Meet the Fellow: Richard Banks, Policy Profession

25 October 2021


Meet the Fellow: Richard Banks, Policy Profession

Reported by Jessica Foster, CSaP Communications Coordinator

A public servant says he hopes to gain “connections and understanding” from researchers and experts in public and private roles, during his first visit to Cambridge as a CSaP Fellow.

Richard Banks, Deputy Director of the Policy Profession at the Department of Education, joined CSaP's Policy Fellowship programme in October 2021.

The two-year initiative creates opportunities for public policy professionals and academics to learn from each other, improving public policy through the more effective use of evidence and expertise.

During his first visit to the University of Cambridge, Banks met academics including Ian Hosking, a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Engineering, Professor John Clarkson, Director of the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre and Bill Sutherland, Miriam Rothschild Professor in Conservation Biology.

He also had one-to-one meetings with Dr Julian Huppert, former MP and Director of the Intellectual Forum at Jesus College and Professor Dame Athene Donald, Master of Churchill College and Professor of Experimental Physics.

As part of the programme, academics and professionals are chosen based on the relevance of their research to the questions drawn up by the Fellow, who spends five days in Cambridge meeting as many as 30 senior researchers.

Reflecting on his first visit as a Policy Fellow, Banks said:

“The experiences have been really useful in some areas, where workstreams are already evolving. For example, I met with Professor John Clarkson and we talked about developing system thinking capability and with Professor Bill Sutherland, around the synthesis of the evidence base, and how do we synthesise and access the evidence that is known internationally, to effectively support decision-making across government?”

Banks has headed up the Policy Profession Unit for the UK Government since October 2013, responsible for coordinating collective efforts to professionalise policy making and build a clearer structure around it.

During this time he has also been the Deputy Head of Policy Profession in the Department of Health and Social Care, and is now responsible for policy capability in the Department of Education.