I do short illustrated talks on the history of education, aimed at both teachers and non-teachers alike. These generally get a great response from teachers in particular, as many of them were never taught about the history of their own profession during their training.

I’ve presented to audiences including: the East London Science School, researchED national conference, the Battle of Ideas festival at the Barbican Centre, U3A Ealing, Discovery Education, Microsoft Education, and the Academy of Ideas Education Forum.

The talks are 30-40 minutes, plus 15 minutes Q&A.

If you would like me to give a talk at your school or organisation, please contact me.

Schools through the ages

This traces a journey from the first grammar school in England, set up by Augustine of Canterbury in the 6th century, to the creation of the state education system in the 19th century.

It explains the profound impact that events such as the Black Death, the Reformation and the Industrial Revolution had on schools.

How could learning Latin save your life? What were the Seven Liberal Arts and what made them ‘liberal’? Why do ‘public schools’ charge fees? How could a Victorian schoolmaster teach a class of a thousand? All these questions and lots more will be answered.

“Harley’s talk was informative and engaging. He is highly knowledgeable and was able to explore the issues, which really developed my understanding of the education system as a current teacher. I would recommend him and his talk highly.”

Tarjinder Gill, Primary school teacher

“A comprehensive and insightful overview of the history of education in Britain. Harley has been researching the subject for many years and he believes that every education student and lecturer should delve into the rich past of education if they are to understand the present. It is an intellectually stimulating talk that everybody with an interest in education will enjoy.”

Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler, Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at the University of Derby

A history of liberal education

The explores how the idea of a liberal education – an education for a person with free time – has evolved since the days of Ancient Greece, through the Seven Liberal Arts of the Middle Ages to the Classical Liberal Education of the Victorian Public Schools. Does the idea of a liberal education still have something to offer us today?

“A fascinating insight into a topic sadly often overlooked by teachers and educationalists. Richardson combines a thorough knowledge of his subject with a lively and accessible style of presentation in such a way that history asks urgent questions of our current educational practices.”

Joanna Williams, director, CIEO

Under development

“The pioneers of education for girls”

“1,000 pupils in a classroom: the rise and fall of the monitorial system”

“Town v gown: the early universities”