Tom Burkard is a Visiting Professor of Education Policy at the University of Derby. He is the co-author of the Sound Foundations reading and spelling programmes, which are rapidly gaining recognition as the most cost-effective means of preventing reading failure. In a speech delivered at St Stephen’s Club on 5 November 2009, Michael Gove acknowledged that “Tom Burkard has done more than anyone living in the fight against illiteracy in this country.”
Prof Burkard's practical experience in education include a 3-year stint teaching basic literacy skills in a Norwich comprehensive, and 9 years as an instructor in the Territorial Army. Prof Burkard found the latter to be far more effective at motivating and socialising young people—and also much more in tune with his libertarian instincts. His 2008 proposal to adopt the American 'Troops-to-Teachers' programme was enthusiastically endorsed by Michael Gove at three successive party conferences.
He is the author of (with Martin Turner) Reading Fever: Why phonics must come first (CPS, 1996), The End of Illiteracy? The Holy Grail of Clackmannanshire (CPS, 1999), After the Literacy Hour: may be the best plan win (CPS, 2004), A World First for West Dunbartonshire (CPS, 2006), Troops to Teachers (2008), Ticking the Right Boxes (2009), School Quangos (CPS, 2009), (with Tom Cleford) Cutting the Children's Plan (CPS, 2010), (with Daisy-Meyland-Smith) Children behaving Better (CPS, 2010). He is also the author of Inside the Secret Garden: the progressive decay of liberal education (University of Buckingham Press, 2007). He is currently working to start a free school staffed exclusively by teachers with experience in the armed forces.