Education and early career
Tony Attwood was educated at Poole Grammar School, Brighton University, The Open University, London University Institute of Education and the University of Nottingham.
He worked as a teacher before moving into the theatre. He later moved into higher education as a senior lecturer in music at Dartington College of Arts (then part of the University of Exeter, now part of University College Falmouth) and taught the course Art and the Environment with the Open University.
During his time with the Open University Tony worked with other academics who saw the arrival of the new “micro computers” as a way of changing the world of publishing, and in 1978 they began to experiment with methods of taking data straight from the floppy disks used by the Apple II computers of the day, and linking their data directly to a Linotron typesetting machine. Tony realised that this approach could reduce the lead time for publishing books from months to a matter of weeks, and set up a company (Hamilton House Publishing) to exploit this discovery.
The company successfully published a series of twice yearly directories, and was eventually sold in 1984.
Throughout this period Tony also worked as an author writing articles for educational publications such as the Times Educational Supplement and Music in Education, plus a series of school books. He became particularly well known for introducing the idea that popular music could be used as part of the in-school education of 14 to 16 year olds in English and music classes (a radical thought at the time). His work published by Oxford University Press was widely used in schools during the 1970s and 1980s.
As his own businesses grew Tony moved from writing school books to writing books on running small businesses, as well as contributing to the popular TV science fiction genres of the day: Doctor Who and Blake’s 7. He also contributed a series on small business issues for The Guardian.
In 1985 Tony began to explore the notion that books for schools, colleges and universities could be supplied with a licence that allowed the to be copied, thus reducing the costs to the buying institution and allowing the much quicker spread of information among teachers and academics. At first these books were supplied as photocopiable masters, but later were offered on computer disk and as downloads.
First and Best (www.firstandbest.co.uk) the company that was set up to handle these volumes has to date published over 1000 titles, and continues to explore the opportunities in this market.
Tony later developed a second company, again exploiting possible new developments stemming from the arrival of ever greater computer power. Hamilton House Mailings www.hamilton-house.com focussed on postal direct mail services and later email and internet marketing services to companies. Tony included within the company a creative side which became the first to introduce findings from the psychology of perception into the way in which direct marketing was written www.theory.bz .
In the last ten years Tony Attwood has worked with colleagues to set up three separate educational organisations which are charged with running courses and developing resources: The School of Educational Administration www.admin.org.uk; The Dyscalculia Centre www.dyscalculia.me.uk; and The School of Professional Writing www.exceptional.org.uk
The School of Educational Administration was granted government funding and support from the University of Northampton in 1998 to set up and run a series of courses on the administration, organisation and efficiency of schools. These have since been offered throughout the UK.
The Dyscalculia Centre has developed a range of materials for use by teachers and parents who work with children who suffer from dyscalculia – which manifests itself as an inability to do basic mathematical calculations and has just launched an on-line assessment tool for those who believe they (or their children) have dyscalculia.
The School of Professional Writing runs a course which helps writers explore and develop their own creativity and writing skills, and helps them make use of the changes in publishing that have occurred with the advent of digital publishing and the internet.
The School of Professional Writing emerged from Tony’s latest round of research which experimented with the use of the internet as a tool to be used by publishers and writers. In 2009 he started a daily blog which has since grown dramatically in size and by 2012 was reporting an audience of around 400,000 hits a month. Tony has experimented with using this site as the basis for a new publishing venture, and it is the success in this field which is used in part to help writers who take the course to exploit their own publications in previously un-explored ways.
Tony continues to work as a consultant to the companies he has founded, and is closely associated with the day to day work of The School of Educational Administration, The Dyscalculia Centre and the School of Professional Writing.
If you wish to contact Tony Attwood or his colleagues who work within the companies and organisations that Tony has set up and is associated with, you will find contact details on each of the websites noted within this article.