The McWhirter Conference, Oxford 2018

'Economic Wealth = Social Wellbeing?'


The 2018 McWhirter Conference, Oxford was at Trinity College, Oxford on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th March:

Inspiring young people to debate topical issues and to think about their future role in society


With previous speakers including Baroness Chakrabarti, Sir Richard Dearlove and Sir Roger Bannister, the McWhirter Conference provides a unique, and sometimes life-changing, educational opportunity for bright sixth formers from both state and independent schools.  Small syndicate groups follow each of the four talks and the Conference culminates in a ‘Question Time’ plenary session.

The McWhirter Foundation and its supporters host the Conference at Trinity College Oxford, with no cost to those attending. The conference encourages students to think about their own role in society and to think about how they might get involved in shaping Britain's future. Since 1975, more than 3,000 sixth formers have attended a McWhirter Conference.

The McWhirter Foundation is grateful for the generous support of

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Chris Taylor and Carey Taylor, which has made this year's Conference possible.

Speakers at the 2018 Conference

Cecile Wright .jpg

Tuesday, 13th March 2:30 pm

Cecile has dedicated her life to the Labour movement and serving the community as a trade unionist, academic and campaigner. Her first experience of activism involved, as the Secretary of a local voluntary organisation, being instrumental in formulating a successful ‘Urban Aid ‘ bid to fund a project aimed at reducing poverty and social exclusion amongst marginalised communities. She has campaigned hard for the Labour party many times for wards and constituencies in Derby and Nottingham. Cecile was Professor of Sociology at Nottingham Trent University for 13 years and is now based at the University of Nottingham.

Saffron Cordery.jpg

Tuesday, 13th March 4:30 pm

Saffron is NHS Providers director of policy and strategy and deputy chief executive. She has extensive experience in policy development, influencing and communications and has worked in the healthcare sector since 2007. Before moving into healthcare, Saffron was head of public affairs at the Local Government Association, the voice of local councils in England. Her early career focused on influencing EU legislation and policy development, and she started working life in adult and
community education. She has a degree in Modern Languages from the University in Manchester and until 2014 was the
chair of the corporation of a 16–19 college in Hampshire.

Andrew Simms.jpg

Wednesday, 14th March 9.30 am

Andrew Simms is an author, political economist and campaigner. His most recent book is Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to prosperity, others including The New Economics, Ecological Debt, & Tescopoly.  He co-founded the New Weather Institute, is a research associate at the Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex, is on the board of the Transition Network and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation, where he was policy director for many years. New Scientist magazine called him a 'master at joined up progressive thinking.' tw: @andrewsimms_uk

Matt Kilcoyne.jpg

Wednesday, 14th March 11.30 am

Matt is Head of Communications at the Adam Smith Institute. After reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of York, he worked at the trade and political risk insurer Atradius while simultaneously studying for an MSc in Financial Services Management. Matt moved to work in the City of London as an underwriter in 2014 before he joining the Government of Catalonia where he was a trade and investment adviser. He is a Co-director of Political City. His research interests are in trade, Brexit and financial services regulation. In his personal life Matt is obsessed with promoting/mostly eating British food. He tweets as @MRJKilcoyne.

Nick Marks.png

Dinner Speaker - Nic Marks

Nic is the founder and CEO of Friday. Friday asks employees every week about their experience of work and helps teams work better together as well as simultaneously gathering insightful organization-wide data on how individuals and teams are really doing.

Nic was described by one client as a “statistician with a soul” due to his unusual combination of ‘hard’ statistical skills and ‘soft’ people skills. He has been working in the field of happiness, wellbeing and quality of life for over 20 years with a particular emphasis on measurement and how to create positive change.

In 2010 Nic gave a TED talk on his previous work in public policy, which has now been watched over a million and a half times. He was named as one of the Top Ten Original Thinkers by the UK’s Institute of Directors magazine and his work was also hailed as one of Forbes Magazine’s Seven Most Powerful Ideas in 2011.

Personal Website:




Conference Chairman - Tom Featherstone

Tom's interest in Philosophy, Politics and Economics developed rapidly during his time at QMC, a sixth form college in Basingstoke. Teachers encouraged Tom to read well beyond the syllabus - from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty to Sophocles' Antigone. He was highly fortunate to be able to discuss these books with staff, friends and family. With a lot of support from school teachers, Tom gained a place at Oxford University to read PPE, before returning to QMC to teach the next generation of A Level students.

Tom now leads the History, Philosophy and Politics department, but is perhaps best known around campus for taking the role of 'Golden Snitch' in a charity Quidditch contest!

Tom regards taking part in last year's McWhirter Conference as a career highlight. He is very excited to again join with student delegates in learning and thinking about this year's topic.

Syndicate leaders

Robert Hobhouse.jpg
John Field.jpg
Marilyn Banks.jpg

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