Caroline Wright, new director of the education industry organisation BESA, brings experience of government and public sector media work to her new role when she replaces Ray Barker who is retiring after 12 years at the the end of May.
Her start with BESA, on May 14, coincides with positive market news from BESA research with Publisher Association member companies. This reveals that, despite government cuts, spending by UK primary and secondary schools in the first quarter of 2012 is up 8.6 per cent on the same period in 2011.
The first sign of a turn in fortunes for 'becalmed' UK school suppliers came in the first quarter of 2011 with indications of sales growth of 3.2 per cent (following a reduction in sales of 7.2 per cent across the year in 2011 and 19 per cent in 2010).
The data covers digital learning resources and the situation looks better for the primary rather than secondary sector (primary sales up 15.4 per cent and secondary up by just 2 per cent).
One of Caroline Wright's key tasks will be to reassure the schools market of the continuing need to invest in digital resources rather than sit on funding because of fears of recession. She commented: “I look forward to taking up my post and continuing BESA’s excellent work championing its members and showcasing the top quality products and services they deliver to schools up and down Britain and internationally.”
Caroline Wright takes over from Ray Barker who retires at the end of May after 12 years with BESA. He will continue his work as an adviser and commentator on industry, technology and literacy issues and add writing and publishing work. Ray Barker is also chair of governors in a primary school and chair of the National Literacy Association.
After a career start in journalism, Caroline Wright moved into public sector PR and communications. She has worked with the the Post Office, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Cabinet Office. More than 10 years were spent in education roles with Ofsted, Partnerships for Schools and as director of communications and executive board member at the Department for Education. Since March 2011 she has run her own consultancy covering the youth and social care sectors.
Commenting on the changes at BESA, director general Dominic Savage commented: “Ray has been the highly respected face of BESA for many years combining an unprecedented understanding of the sector with an exceptional level of service to our members, schools and government associates.
"We have spent the past few months working to find the exceptional calibre and capability of replacement that we wanted. It is clear that Caroline’s extensive and broad ranging experience of the public sector, education and the commercial world ideally positions her to offer our members the desired support.”