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Speaker Biography

Lord Willis of Knaresborough

Phil Willis studied History and Music at the City of Leeds and Carnegie College, qualifying as a teacher in 1963 from the University of Leeds Institute of Education. Phil's teaching career was mostly spent in Leeds where he rose rapidly from Assistant Master at Middleton Secondary Boys' School in 1963 to become Deputy Headteacher at West Leeds Boys' Grammar School in 1974.

In 1978 he became head of Ormesby School in Middlesbrough where he helped pioneer the integration of children with physical disabilities into mainstream education. In 1983 he returned to Leeds as Head of one of the city's largest comprehensive schools, John Smeaton Community High School.

Phil was elected to Parliament in 1997 having defeated the former Chancellor Norman Lamont. He was immediately made HE and FE spokesperson under Paddy Ashdown before becoming Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills in 1999 retaining the post until 2005, when he was appointed Chairman of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.

Phil retired from the Commons in May 2010 and was immediately ennobled as Lord Willis of Knaresborough and was appointed to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee. In Nov 2012 he published the Willis Commission Report on the future education and training of pre-registration nurses for the Royal College of Nursing.

Phil continues to be prolific writer with regular columns in a wide range of scientific and educational publications as well as local and national media. He is a popular key note speaker and contributor to national and international science conferences.


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