Do new solutions need new leaders?

18th December 2019

At Big Education we have a vision to prepare young people to better participate in, and take on the world.

We believe that significant change and new thinking is required. We believe that a paradigm shift is needed; new thinking about the very purpose of schooling, through to the values of the system, the curriculum, pedagogies, culture, assessment and of course, a new model of leadership.

Generously hosted by PWC at their Embankment Place offices, the opening of our second series of ‘Big Education Dialogues’ brought together leaders in business, education and the third sector to explore the leadership required for a Big Education; asking ourselves ‘Do new solutions need new leaders?’

Co-Director Peter Hyman, kicked off the evening by framing our work – our vision for a bigger and better education. Many schools are trapped in the cycle of needing to improve exam and ofsted outcomes, with little space to think about the broader purpose of education and school. Peter articulated the need to move from Paradigm A to Paradigm B, to a more expansive, ambitious view of education.

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The Big Leadership Adventure is a bold new programme to support leaders who are interested in developing and implementing these ideas in their institutions. They need a leadership toolkit to enable them to lead change and make it stick.

We believe that a mindset shift is needed and are delighted to have worked with Hannah Jepson (Psychologist and Co-founder of LGBTed) to conduct an in-depth piece of research into the behaviours required for this change. Presenting her findings at the Dialogue to frame the discussions, Hannah articulated our belief that the new framework is fundamental for any leader within education who wants to be the change we want to see. We are excited to launch our Leadership Reflection Wheel in 2020.

Each bringing their own provocation statement on leadership, we were also thrilled to be joined by some of the key voices within the field of education and leadership.

Our speakers were...

Adam Grodecki (Forward Institute)
Beccy Earnshaw (Voice 21)
Essie North (Big Change
Esther Stevenson (Leadership Development and Organisational Change Consultant)

Hannah Jepson (Engaging for Success and LGBTed)
Kiran Gill (The Difference)
Reuben Moore (Teach First)

Each provocation generated fascinating debate and dialogue on the mindsets and competencies needed.

Following some reflection after the Dialogue, we were inspired by the notion that as leaders, we often think we know all of the answers within our profession. We are the experts. What happens when we question to genuinely understand? What happens when we look outwards to other sectors who are doing work that is seemingly different to ours?

We often think that we are considering diversity and inclusion within our schools, but what happens when change is coming from young people through a pupil centred approach? What happens when we remove our own filters and assumptions that squash voices and different mindsets? In education we can be so inward looking, meaning that young people can get left behind.

We were also struck by a discussion around the need to celebrate our failures and show imperfections. In education, we currently operate like machines in the structures we have built. Time and space is essential if we want to produce beautiful and brilliant work that is sustainable and engrained in our own contexts.

We are at the very start of this journey in developing more expansive leaders in education and are delighted to be building a coalition who are starting to show this change through the Big Leadership Adventure. Applications for our 20/21 cohort open in January 2020. Contact us for more information.

If you would like to join in the next Dialogue, these are taking place on 23 Jan and 4 March. More information can be accessed via Eventbrite.

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