He was born March 10, 1941 in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, of an English father and a Welsh mother, and raised in Sunderland. After a grammar school education he went up to the University of Nottingham in September 1959 where he studied Mathematics and Statistics. On graduating, he commenced training to be an actuary and worked for short spells as a supply teacher, and as a statistician with Tate & Lyle. In the autumn of 1964 he secured a post at the National Foundation for Educational Research where he conducted the first study of a new area called item banking, resulting in his first book Item Banking. He then went to study at the University of Chicago, having received a Fellowship, and was awarded a Ph.D in 1971.
Returning to the UK in July 1971 he took up the position of Director of Research in the University of London School Examinations Department where, among other things, he organised the 1979 conference Rehabilitating psychometrics for the Social Science Research Council. In 1980 he was seconded to direct the Evaluation of Testing in Schools Project at the Institute of Education, also in the University of London. The following year he moved to Jamaica where he served as Professor of Educational Measurement in the University of the West Indies. In early 1984 he took up a Fellowship at Flinders University in Australia and later in the year was appointed Director of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research but declined to take up post citing personal reasons.
Having become an Associate of the British Psychological Society during the 1970s, he was in a position to start a new career in England as a business psychologist. In 1985 he helped to establish a consultancy called Psychometric Research & Development Ltd with an office in St Albans. He was made a Fellow of the British Psychological Society in 1986 and for the academic year 1987-88 he was Visiting Professor at the London Institute. In 1990 he joined Pearn Kandola Occupational Psychologists in Oxford. From 1998 to 2005 he was a Special Professor in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham. In 1998 the same university conferred on him the degree of DLitt in recognition of over 120 published books, monographs and articles. A partner at Pearn Kandola from 1993 onwards, he decided, in March 2000, to work as a freelance and to take up other writing. A memoir Mackem Mayhem appeared in 2004, followed, in 2005, 2006 and 2007, by the three novels comprising the Moving Deckchairs trilogy. Eight of his short stories have received commendations in various competitions. These days he concentrates on writing walking books. The first appeared in 2009 and the second in 2010.