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5 quickfire questions with Alex Jones

Natasha Bance

This feature is part of our Analysis in Government Month 2023 series. You can find more articles and resources on our Analysis in Government Month hub.

Alex Jones, Director of Insights and Research at the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), answers our 5 quickfire questions about his career so far.

What is the best thing about your job?

There are so many great things about my job it is hard to choose! It is inspiring to work with, and be surrounded by colleagues who are so knowledgeable and passionate about making a positive difference for children and learners, and keeping them safe. I have worked at Ofsted for a little over a year and am still on a steep learning curve, which is also a wonderful thing. There are many opportunities to apply myself, and my skills, deeply through my work.

What motivates you?

In so many ways, it is my education and the life chances that gave me, which I have to thank for the opportunities I have had in my life. Paying some of that back is what motivates me in my current job. Children only get one shot at childhood, so working to help ensure that everyone gets the best possible start in life is a great motivator. For me personally, being able to use my analytical skills in service of this, is brilliant. I have also been known to be motivated by cake!

What does “making an impact” mean to you?

To me, it means making things better for those who most need it. There are lots of ways, and lots of levels at which it is possible to make an impact. This could be through work that directly affects specific individuals, or through influencing in a small way, policies that will affect millions. I seek to do this, personally, through bringing to bear the best available evidence and analysis, for the most important issues, so that Schools, Local Authorities, and Ministers can be absolutely clear-eyed about the consequences of the decisions they take.

What was your first job and what did it teach you?

One of my first full-time jobs was working for Social Services in Devon, with adults and children with physical and learning disabilities. This taught me the value of compassion, gave me experience of the infinitely demanding work that social workers do every day, and that even small actions can make a big difference to people. It also taught me that I wanted to find a way to use my analytical skills in my work, which led to me applying to join the civil service.

If you could go back in time and give your 16-year-old self just one piece of advice, what would it be?

I am going to cheat here, and share some advice that I did receive at the age of 16, from the headteacher at my secondary school. That advice was one word: “care”. I think about that often, to this day. It applies to so much in life, and has always served me well.

Alex Jones
Natasha Bance
Alex Jones is Director of Insights and Research at the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).