He attended Plymouth College and then Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, gaining a MA in Economics, Social and Political Science in 1976. He gained a PGCE from Brunel University in 1977.
He worked for almost 10 years at the National Foundation for Educational Research. He first joined the Department for Education and Skills (DfES, later renamed the DCSF) in 1997 where he worked with Professor Sir Michael Barber in the School Effectiveness Unit. He was Head of the National Grid for Learning from 1999-2000. From February 2000 - March 2006, he was Chief Executive of the TTA (Teacher Training Agency), which became the TDA (Training and Development Agency for Schools) in March 2005. His leadership coincided with a very successful period in teacher recruitment and teacher training, as the government turned round historically low performance.
Tabberer left his position as Director General of Schools at the DCSF some months after the death of his wife, Helen. To nurse her, he had partly left in May 2008, being replaced by Jon Coles. He became Chief Schools Officer and Chief Operating Officer at GEMS Education, the worldwide education conglomerate headquartered in Dubai, in March 2009. In January 2012, he left to set up his own series of businesses, under the collective name of BBD Education. He also co-owns INK Education Worldwide.