After a career as a science teacher and a local authority adviser, Mike established the Fischer Family Trust Data Analysis project in 2001. Working with a small team, and initially based in his kitchen, he brought about a sea change in the use of data in schools and Local Authorities that went far beyond the headline indicators of school performance tables and Ofsted PANDA reports.
‘FFT estimates’, ‘CVA’ and ‘FSM Ever’ were just some of the concepts that Mike became known for, terms that became common place in almost every school classroom across England and Wales. But most of all, Mike was passionate about using data to make a real difference to pupils’ lives, particularly those children and young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds. ‘Data should be used to raise questions and unlock potential’ was a phrase that all of those that knew Mike or heard him speak would instantly recognise.
It was Mike’s work in the field of education that led him to receive an OBE, an honour that he was proud to receive but characteristically didn’t make a ‘song and dance’ about – it was the data that he wanted to take centre stage.
Mike was a wonderful colleague to work with. Relentlessly cheerful and fizzing with ideas, it was hard to keep up with him as he enthusiastically outlined the latest analysis he had dreamed up during the night. Although he retired in 2015, he continued to work with FFT Education Datalab, writing blogposts and ‘playing with data’ in way that most of us could only dream of.
Our thoughts are with his wife and family.