Monday, 28 March 2011


The March Court Dinner is traditionally one that commemorates the Company's education links.  These, as regular readers of this blog will know, are very wide ranging.  They involve some twenty five organisations and range from Oxford and Cambridge colleges to an infant school, the Thomas Russell Infant School at Barton-under-Needwood in Staffordshire.  A consequence is that the guest list is very eclectic including chairs of governors, heads, Drapers' governors, Drapers' scholars and fellows as well as head boys and head girls of our various schools.

A record number of one hundred and twenty five attended.  This increase was partially due to the fact that Drapers' Academy is now established.  Incidentally Matthew Slater, the Principal, and others were made most welcome.

One pleasant coincidence is that Professor Michael Moriarty, the husband of Professor Morag Schiach, a vice-principal at Queen Mary and also vice chair of Drapers' Academy, has recently been appointed to the Drapers' Chair of French at Cambridge University.

Our principal guest was Lord Adonis.   When he was leading the academy programme in the last government he gave considerable support to the Company in the early stages in the development of Drapers' Academy. Andrew is a man of considerable interests and energy.  After providing a huge energy in setting keeping the momentum going with the academy movement he then went on to spend a very innovative time in the Department for Transport, latterly as secretary of state, where he was particularly active in promoting the growth of railways including publishing proposals for increased electrification and the building of a high speed railway north of London, known as High Speed 2. 

As I mentioned in my speech a minister who can claim one sucessful initiative that has bought real bebnefit is unusual but to achieve success in two fields, in this case education and transport, is exceptional. Andrew Adonis gave a great speech combining his hallmarks of a lightness of touch and a passionate commitment to improving education.

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