NZI 2019 Staff BRIAR LIPSON 03

Briar Lipson

Research Fellow

Briar is a Research Fellow specialising in education. Before joining the Initiative she was a Maths teacher and Assistant Principal in London, where she also co-founded the Floreat family of primary schools. Briar has worked for International Education consultancy CfBT, and the Westminster think tank Policy Exchange. She holds a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Edinburgh. 

Latest reports:
New Zealand’s Education Delusion: How bad ideas ruined a once world-leading school system (2020)
Research Note: Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it) (2019)
Spoiled by Choice: How NCEA hampers education, and what it needs to succeed (2018)

Phone: +64 4 499 0790


Recent Work

Classroom student

PISA results: why are we slipping?

Ever since the OECD began testing the educational performance of 15-year olds in the early 2000s, New Zealand has performed progressively worse in all three assessed areas of reading, maths and science. The troubling trajectory was confirmed again with the release of the results of the OECD's 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) testing round. Read more

Briar Lipson
RadioNZ - The Panel
4 December, 2019

Ignorance is not bliss, even in Bluff

“For a child in Bluff who might be interested in muttonbirds, they are not going to be interested in the fact that there are seven continents in the world." This statement, made by the elected President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, Whetu Cormick, perfectly encapsulates what is wrong with education in New Zealand. Reported in the Herald in response to a question about our national curriculum, Cormick’s example was prompted by our latest research note Ignorance is not bliss. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
22 November, 2019
BL AM Show 19 Nov

Discussing the gaps in Kiwis' general knowledge

On The AM Show, Briar Lipson discusses her new research, Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it), and highlights the serious gaps in Kiwis' knowledge, Briar explains why a knowledge-rich curriculum is so important and says while it is exciting the Government has announced that New Zealand history will be a required subject in schools from 2022, why does it just stop there - what about teaching world history? 


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Briar Lipson
The AM Show
19 November, 2019
Child reading

Discussing ignorance is not bliss

We all assume we've got a handle on basic knowledge, but a new survey has found New Zealanders have some serious gaps when it comes to basic maths, geography and history facts. Briar Lipson spoke to Jesse Mulligan on Radio New Zealand about the finding from her new report, Ignorance is not bliss: why knowledge matters (and why we might not have enough of it). Read more

Briar Lipson
Radio New Zealand
19 November, 2019
BL Q+A 19 Nov

Why knowledge matters

On Q+A, Briar Lipson discusses our survey that tested 1,000 voting-aged New Zealanders on the state of their general knowledge. The (surprising) findings formed the basis for her latest research note, Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it). Read more

Briar Lipson
18 November, 2019

Tiptoeing towards a truly national curriculum

In his speech last week at the NZEI conference, Education Minister Hipkins reminded the audience of primary school teachers that he had scrapped national standards because he was listening, and because the standards were neither national nor standard. It was catchy rhetoric that, if we follow his logic, has implications for our national curriculum, too. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
4 October, 2019
Maori Language week Kia Kaha

‘Kia Kaha te Reo Maori’

Monday saw Wellington’s Lambton Quay come alive with a joyful parade celebrating Māori Language Week. Yet, when asked whether her government would make te Reo compulsory in schools Prime Minister Ardern dodged the question, explaining instead that even if the government wanted to do this, New Zealand lacks the necessary teaching workforce. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
13 September, 2019
apple on book1

Knowledge is the answer

During a visit to a new London charter school in 2015, then-Mayor Boris Johnson sparred with a 12-year-old over the year the Roman Empire converted to Christianity (313 AD). Johnson was wrong (by a year) and dumbstruck by the knowledge of the inner-city children. Read more

Briar Lipson
The National Business Review
6 September, 2019

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