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Papers of Jan McKenley

Identifier: MCKENLEY


  • c1979-2006

Biographical / Historical

Jan McKenley was born in Brixton in 1955. Her parents migrated to Britain from Jamaica. Her family moved to Manchester for five years then back to Tottenham, London. In 1966, she passed her 11 plus and attended the local grammar school, Tottenham County School, where she took 9 GCE Ordinary Levels ('O' Levels) and 3 GCE Advanced Levels ('A' Levels). She enrolled at University of East Anglia in 1973, where she studied BA (Hons) History with French and German (European Studies) and graduated in 1976. McKenley became increasingly involved in the women's liberation movement in 1977 and joined a group in Brixton headed by Susan Scafe. McKenley was also active in campaigns such as the National Abortion Campaign and the campaign against 'forced' sterilization.

Mckenley joined the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) in around 1978/1979. After attending the first National Black Women's conference in 1979, she joined an informal women's group, with other activists such as Mo Ross. McKenley, along with the other women activists, were also very active in their professions and taught subjects like Black Studies to encourage Black people to raise their career aspirations. In that same year she began a two-year Diploma in Counselling at South West London College.

McKenley was a feminist and applied for the co-ordinator post for the National Abortion Campaign at 374 Grays Inn Road which was home to various feminist organisations.

Through her membership in the Brixton Women's Group, McKenley was involved in the Brixton Defence Campaign following the Brixton uprisings in 1981.

In 1981-1983 Mckenley studied for a Post-graduate Certificate in Education at University of Greenwich.

Mckenley taught at a local boys Hackney in the local boys' secondary school and was a senior lecturer in an FE College before joining Her Majesty's Inspectorate (HMI) in 1990-2001 and in 1993 she was a member of the first OFSTED School Improvement Team working with governmental policy to improve the standards of failing schools. The team provided Local Educational Authorities (LEA) with inspection instruments and guidance for schools.

From 1997 to 2001 she was part of a small OFSTED advisory team providing educational advice to 'Ministers on Educational Action Zones, Education Development Plans, statutory proposals on schools places, new schools, reorganisations and school closures'.

Mckenley led the inspections of LEAs from 1997-2001.

McKenley contributed to a series of research papers including; 'Career histories and progression routes of Black and minority ethnic headteachers for the National College for School Leadership' in association with Dr Gloria Gordon, South Bank University Business School published by the NCSL in May 2002.

Mckenley was also the main author for a research commissioned by Lambeth in March 2003 on successful strategies in raising the achievement of Black Caribbean pupils.

In 2004, McKenley started her own education consultancy company, McKenley-Simpson Limited. McKenley chairs a School Improvement Partnership Board for the DfES and was one of the original London Challenge Advisers working with Professor Tim Brighouse from the Institute of Education, University of London.

Mckenley completed her PhD in Education Policy Studies in 2005 and now works as a senior consultant 'developing and implementing' government policy on Education. She wrote 'Seven Black Men: an ecological study of education and parenting' published by Aduma Books in 2006 which was developed from her PhD researcher topic.

Mckenley contributed to 'Education in a Global City: Essays from London' edited by Professor Tim Brighouse and Leisha Fullick, published by the Institute of Education in 2007.

McKenley is continues to work in education developing and implementing government policy. She has designed and delivered management and leadership development programmes for senior and middle leaders for over 20 years, these include the development of the SHINE leadership programme for aspiring headteachers from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds; she is the lead designer and facilitator of the Equal Access to Promotion programme run by the National Union of Teacher (NUT) and the National College of School Leadership (NCSL). McKenley was a member of the original Tribal Intervention team in Swindon, where she designed and delivered the Change Management programme. She is working with Bradford on the design and delivery of its strategy to increase the diversity profile of the school workforce. She is member of a several professional bodies; British Educational Research Association, ASPECT, First Division Association, NIACE and London Centre for Leadership Learning.

This administrative history was compiled using her interview and the interview summary created as part of the BCA's Oral History of Black Women's Movement project, Jan McKenley biography on Aduma Books Publishing website; [] and he CV on her website; [ ].


5 boxes, 1 poster box and 1 tube

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Custodial History

The papers were donated to BCA by Jan McKenley in May 2009

Black Cultural Archives: The Papers of Jan McKenley
Black Cultural Archives
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Repository Details

Part of the Archives Collection Repository

Black Cultural Archives
1 Windrush Square