Labour life peer and Patron of Humanists UK
Born in 1942, Tessa Blackstone was educated at Ware Grammar School for Girls and the London School of Economics (LSE) where she went on to take her doctorate. Her academic career began at LSE, where she was a lecturer in social administration. In 1978 she became Professor of Education Administration at the University of London Institution of Education. She has also held research fellowships at the Centre for Studies in Public Policy and the Policy Studies Institute and worked as a policy adviser in the Cabinet Office in the 1970s. She has served as chair of the ballet board of the Royal Opera House, the Fabian Society, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the BBC’s General Advisory Council and the RIBA Trust, and has sat on the governing bodies of numerous other organisations. She was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich from 2004-2011.
She is currently the Chairman of the Great Ormand Street Hospital Trust and the British Library, and a member of the Royal Opera House Board.
In 1987 Tessa Blackstone was awarded a life peerage. In the Lords she was Opposition spokeswoman for Education and Science (1988-92), for Treasury matters (1990-91), for Trade and Industry (1992-97) and principal Opposition spokeswoman for foreign affairs (1992-97). After Labour came into power in 1997, she was Minister of State for Education & Employment (1997-2001) and Arts Minister (2001-3) with responsibility for the arts, crafts, museums, galleries and libraries. In 2001 she was appointed to the Privy Council.
Her many publications on education and social policy issues include Race Relations in Britain with Bhikhu Parekh and Peter Saunders (1997), Prisons and Penal Reform (1990), Inside the Thank Tank: Advising the Cabinet 1971-83 (1988) with William Plowden, and Disadvantage and Education with Jo Mortimore (1982).
In 2007 she was one of the UK Signatories of the Brussels Declaration, which affirmed “common values” for Europe… based not on a single culture or tradition but founded in all of the cultures that make up modern Europe.”