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Jean Gross CBE

Jean Gross was formerly England’s Communication Champion for children and young people, responsible for promoting the importance of good language skills. She chaired the ‘Bercow: Ten Years On’ independent review of services for children with speech, language and communication needs.

Jean has been a teacher, an educational psychologist and head of children’s services in a local authority. Until 2005, she was senior director within the government’s National Strategies, responsible for their work on overcoming barriers to achievement, including the influential SEAL approach to developing children’s social and emotional competences.

She has been a visiting fellow at both Bristol University and London University’s Institute of Education, and is currently an associate fellow at Warwick University. She is the author of numerous articles and bestselling books on children’s issues and has frequently acted in an advisory capacity to government on early years, communication and language, wellbeing and special educational needs policy. She recently co-authored the Early Intervention Foundation/Education Endowment Foundation guidance on improving social and emotional learning in primary schools.

In 2006 she set up a new charity, the Every Child a Chance Trust. As its director, she championed the cause of children with significant literacy and numeracy difficulties, raising £10m from business and government to set up the national Every Child a Reader and Every Child Counts programmes, reaching 30,000 children a year at their peak in 2010/11.

Jean’s interests are in the systematic application of evidence-based approaches to tackling disadvantage and under-achievement. She edited the Centre for Social Justice/Smith Institute publication Getting in Early, summarising the evidence on what works for disadvantaged children, and co-wrote with KPMG the influential Long-term costs of literacy difficulties and Long-term costs of numeracy difficulties reports, which sought to quantify the social return on investment in effective early intervention. A forthcoming book Reaching the unseen children explores what schools can do to raise the attainment of disadvantaged children, particularly for a group who consistently do worse in our education system than almost all others — white children eligible for free school meals.

Jean was a founding trustee of the Early Intervention Foundation and is a trustee of I CAN, the children’s communication charity.

She was awarded a CBE in the 2011 New Year’s honours list, for services to education.