Our team

Mark Lehain – Director

Mark was a secondary school maths teacher until 2010, when he launched the campaign to open a new state school. Bedford Free School opened in 2012, and he was Principal there until 2017. He then ran Parents & Teachers for Excellence, a grassroots group campaigning for higher standards in schools.

Most recently he was a candidate in Newcastle for the General Election where, fuelled by Greggs sausage rolls, he halved the incumbent’s majority. Alongside campaigning and meeting people, he drinks copious quantities of coffee, runs, and pretends to know how to manage his four young daughters.

James Knell – Research Director

Before joining the CCS, James spent a decade working in geopolitical risk, consulting for government, a number of major law firms, financial institutions and advisories. His regional specialisms are Brazil and Lusophone Africa and he has worked with clients to develop risk mitigation strategies across Sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the Americas.

In his spare time, he is an ardent enthusiast of the Portuguese language, avid swimmer and, despite having been repeatedly attacked by a variety of wildlife, is passionate about nature conservation and volunteers with a London-based animal charity.

James Knell

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