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Professor Jeff Thompson CBE: oration

Read Dr Mary Hayden's oration on Professor Jeff Thompson CBE for the honorary degree of Doctor of Education in June 2014.


Jeff Thompson joined the University of Bath as a Professor in 1979 from a post at the University of Oxford, following undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and science teaching in the mainstream and independent school sectors. Having since been Head of the (then) School of Education for three blocks of three years each, Professor Thompson has also been, at different times, Arts Area Chair (precursor to the current role of Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor. He has brought in to the School (now Department) of Education over £5 million of funding through research, consultancy and other projects, and has led numerous innovations including founding the department’s Centre for the study of Education in an International Context, developing the international dimension of the MA in Education and, in 1997, leading the launch of the University’s first professional doctorate – the Doctor of Education. Both programmes continue to be central to the work of the department today. Formally Emeritus Professor of Education since 2005, he has for many years demonstrated enthusiastic and effective support for the department, and the University more widely, on both the national and the international stage. He continues to publish, to teach and to supervise research at Masters and Doctoral level in the area of international education, and is a popular and respected figure with the teachers, heads and principals who participate in those programmes.

Nationally, Professor Thompson has made an enormous contribution to the development of Education over many years. He has held numerous leadership roles including, inter alia, Chairman of Council for the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Chair of the first working group (science) charged in 1987 by the then Secretary of State, Kenneth Baker, with developing a national curriculum, Deputy Chair of the School Examinations and Assessment Council, Chair of the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, and most recently Chair of the Examinations Appeals Board for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Among the honours bestowed upon him nationally are that of Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Education, Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, and Freeman of the City of London.

Internationally, Jeff Thompson has for many years been held in great esteem in a range of contexts. Involved from the earliest days in the development of the now well-established International Baccalaureate (IB), he has been a popular and highly regarded figure on the IB and international schools stage for over 40 years. His roles in the IB have included Chief Examiner for IB Diploma Chemistry and Physical Science, Chair of the IB Examining Board, and Director of International Education. As an indication of the esteem in which he is held within the IB organisation, the Jeff Thompson Research Award was instituted by the IB to fund research by teachers worldwide. In 2005 Jeff Thompson was also honoured with two other awards: one by the European Council of International Schools, in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of international education; the other the International Schools Association’s Distinguished Service Award for services to international education. An accomplished public speaker, he continues to be in demand at conferences nationally and internationally, and has been guest speaker at numerous school prize-giving ceremonies in many countries. Highly regarded in both university and school sectors, he is Chair or Board member of a number of international schools around the world, and is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Alliance for International Education.

An exceptional national and international educator, leader and mentor for teachers and colleagues in many contexts, Jeff Thompson continues to support developments in both national and international education to this day with an energy and enthusiasm that many who are decades younger would struggle to emulate. His support for the Department of Education and the University of Bath more widely continues unabated, and there is no doubt that he is a tremendous ambassador for the University both nationally and worldwide.

Chancellor, I present to you Professor Jeff Thompson, who is eminently worthy to receive the Degree of Doctor of Education, honoris causa.

Dr Mary Hayden

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