Public First boosts policy arm with hire of ex-Number 10 adviser
Jonathan Simons becomes a director at the fast-growing agency
Policy and campaigns specialist Public First has hired former Number 10 education adviser Jonathan Simons to lead its work on education and social policy.
Simons joins Public First next month from the global education foundation the Varkey Foundation, where he was director of policy and research. He was head of education in the Number 10 strategy unit under Gordon Brown and also head of education at Policy Exchange.
Public First was set up in 2016 by James Frayne, a former Portland director and Department for Education communications director, and Rachel Wolf, founder of the New Schools Network and a former adviser to David Cameron at Number 10. Having made a number of hires in the last two years, including former Whitehall communications chief Gabriel Milland, the agency now has a head count of 14 with three associates also on the books.
The hire comes as Public First has been rapidly developing a policy team. The agency recently published new economic impact analyses for Google and Deliveroo, and also wrote a paper on tackling the gender pay gap for the Association of British Insurers.
Wolf said: “Genuine policy specialists are extremely hard to find and with Jonathan we’ve found one of the best around. Anyone that has worked in the education policy world in the last decade will know of Jonathan’s exceptional work in the field and we’re looking forward to him strengthening our rapidly growing policy team.”
In a statement on his move, Simons said: “What attracted me to Public First is that it’s an agency that builds on the best elements of a serious think tank. Many agencies produce so-called ‘thought leadership’ but Public First’s team produces high-quality public policy research which helps clients to truly shape the policy space they operate in.”