Following her career as a journalist and editor, and ever since her sons entered the state education system, Katie has engaged in the principles and practice of education reform.
As a parent she was a primary school reading volunteer, a parent governor, and a parent campaigner for ‘real’ education as Vice Chairman of the aptly named Campaign for Real Education. With CRE chairman Nick Seaton she co-wrote Operation Whole Curriculum: A Tangled Web? – a study which revealed how the subject disciplines of real education are dismantled, blended and subsumed by non- , or anti-educational processes, programmes and policies.
Katie was a secondary school governor (at Quintin Kynaston School) for some years, and became a Westminster City Councillor with a special interest in education as the council took over schools from the newly abolished ILEA (Inner London Education Authority). She also involved herself in regeneration programmes, notably Estate Action on the then-notorious Mozart Estate.
Informed by the first-hand observations of estate activist Roger Diamond, who noted that local child gang members were mostly illiterate, she helped set up a trial of the ground-breaking Butterfly* Summer Reading School on the Mozart Estate in 1995. In December 1996 she joined the founding committee of the educational charity Real Action** (QPCT) Ltd. - established by Roger Diamond earlier that year.
As an education reformer Katie continues to wear different hats. Her educational advocacy – particularly on the broadcast media – continues as the CRE’s Vice Chairman, as does her educational activism as Real Action’s Education Director. She is an Associate of the Institute of Ideas and member of the IoI Education Forum; and Visiting Research Fellow of the University of Derby Centre for Educational Research.
NOTES: *Irina Tyk is the author of The Butterfly whole-class teaching method and The Butterfly reading courses used by Real Action (QPCT) to help children improve their literacy. An honours graduate of the University of London and for many years the Head of Holland House (coeducational independent) School, Irina Tyk and her husband directed the pilot two-week Butterfly Summer School organised by Roger Diamond and Katie Ivens on the Mozart estate in 1995.
**Real Action was named with no reference to, or association with, the CRE. It has no conceptual or actual connection with the campaigning organisation.