Developing leaders who can change the story of education

We’ve built the capacity within our own schools to deliver a holistic education and experiment with new pedagogies. We care about making a difference to the entire system, not just our own schools and are now working with schools across London to deliver our groundbreaking programme – Big Leadership Adventure.

The Big Leadership Adventure is a two year, deliberately different, leadership programme for leaders in schools and social enterprises, who are ready to think more expansively about the challenges faced in the education sector. We work to empower, enable and inspire the leadership required for a holistic education of the Head (academics), Heart (character and wellbeing) and Hand (creativity and making a difference)

How is the Big Leadership Adventure Different?

The BLA is designed to develop leaders to push boundaries and model an education that prepares young people to better participate in, and take on the world. The programme has been designed with the expertise of different sectors, and our inaugural cohorts are already experimenting with new ideas and processes for impactful innovation. This is becoming increasingly important as leaders navigate a new world in light of Covid-19. 

The BLA is a vibrant mix of workshops on job projects, immersive experiences, peer learning, and residential elements. Leaders on our programme are thinking more strategically and imaginatively about how to deal with the new world dominated by various challenges.

The programme in a nutshell...

What is your why? To rethink education, we must think deeply at first principles of what school should be about. Philosophy of Education is a deep exploration of a personal sense of mission and purpose – fundamental for any leader trying to shake up the current paradigm.

In education, we need new solutions to some of the biggest problems within education. Design Thinking provides an expansive, systematic process to innovation. This powerful methodology enables you to creatively problem solve and apply a different lens to a problem or area for innovation.

The 7 Leadership Tools are a powerful set of skills based on person centred coaching. These tools encourage a culture of responsibility and action in every conversation we have – fundamental to leading with the ‘Heart’.

Empowering Teams. What are the behaviours and mindsets of a team trying to shake things up in education? How do we get there? The Big Leadership Adventure explores the importance of understanding how our own behaviour, values and preferences affect the teams we work with.

Personal manifesto

Transforming personally and intellectually

Being able to tell compelling stories is a powerful way of connecting with others and deepening your own reflections.

You will start your own Personal Manifesto during the selection process and will spend time revisiting this on the programme, with expert input on the Philosophy of Education.

Innovation projects

Doing real work now, not just training for the future

We know that generating new ideas and designing great practices is challenging within education. Innovation has been stifled by mounting pressures of exam results.

The Innovation Projects are a microcosm of being able to lead a school innovatively. Using Design Thinking methodology, you will be looking at an issue through a different lens. The projects will play a part in testing new approaches to providing a ‘Big Education’ for young people.

The Interchange

Giving feedback is a gift

We believe that it’s important to know how to get out of our thought bubble… and let someone into ours.

The Exchange is a unique opportunity to see and be seen in your own context. You will be paired up to conduct deliberately developmental observations of each other in your role. This experience provides the time to give and receive incredibly detailed feedback – something we don’t usually give enough time to!

Coaching groups

Building heroic teams, not heroic individuals

Practicing coaching makes brilliant coaching.

Your coaching groups will act as a mechanism for developing in the 7 Leadership Tools. These provide a safe space to deeply reflect on yourself as a leader, whilst being coached by your peers on the programme.

Immersive Visits

Asking bigger questions

Many school leaders focus their research within other schools. We want our leaders to be asking themselves; how do other sectors and organisations generate new thinking and design great practices?

The Immersive Visit is horizon scanning in action. You will have the opportunity to visit forward thinking organisations, exposing you to new ways of thinking and doing. The Big Leadership Adventure will support you to take meaning from this and translate it into your own contexts.

Train the Trainer

Feeding the ecosystem

Knowing how to systematically empower and support those around you is a critical skill for all leaders. We care about deliberately empowering each cohort to train others in their learning. We call this becoming ‘meta-consciously competent’ – the ability to narrate or explain what you are doing as you are doing it.

We will challenge you to develop not only for yourself, but in a way that enables you to spread and share your learning in your organisation/school and beyond.

Reflective Practice

Transforming personally and intellectually

We know that all leaders have habits and behaviours that hold us back. The Big Leadership Adventure aims to build a greater reflective capability in yourselves as leaders, working towards a deeper sense of personal transformation.

Alumni Network

Feeding the ecosystem

Our cohorts as ambassadors for the change we want to see within the sector. The Big Leadership Adventure provides a wealth of opportunity for you to be part of a growing movement for change.

Who we are looking for

The Headteacher

Are you leading a good school, possibly one you have turned around? You are getting good exam scores and the school is running well. But you crave something more. You want to offer a richer curriculum and a wider repertoire of pedagogies. You want to see what’s out there and what might take your school to the next level.

The Senior Leader

Are you a senior leader who might want to run a school one day but want to do it in a different way? You don’t just want to maximise for exam results but want to offer a bigger education to your pupils. You are excited by education debates and relish the opportunity for more horizon scanning to add to your thinking.

The Social Entrepreneur

Are you someone with a passion for the education of young people and want to have the biggest possible impact? You may not be or want to be a qualified teacher but want to gain the tools and mindsets that will allow you to create programmes and eco-systems that might change the way we think about education.

The Innovative Middle Leader

Do you get frustrated with some of the ways schools are run? Are you itching to try different approaches? Are you trying out new things in your current role but want a bigger opportunity to learn the tools of an innovative leader.

BLA and the need for Covid-19

With the additional demands of COVID-19, leaders have been forced to rethink how their schools operate overnight. Navigating this unprecedented challenge requires creativity and lateral thinking – both are key competencies that we focus on during the Big Leadership Adventure. Our participants are currently using the tools and learning from the programme to respond to these challenges. 

The Big Leadership Adventure is needed now more than ever before. There is an ever-increasing need for teachers and leaders to access the tools to rethink and re-shape education. The sector is being forced to shift rapidly, and there is a need for expansive leadership to respond to this challenge, learn from it and recognise the lasting legacies.  

Applications for the BLA are open and we welcome applicants from leaders who are ready to think differently about the challenges we face within the sector.

Practical implications of Covid-19

We are continuing to welcome applications for the Big Leadership Adventure. Each stage will be run remotely and we will aim to be flexible as possible. 

Whilst it’s hard to predict what the coming months will look like, we know that school leaders are busier than ever. We are adapting our current programme offer, by delivering aspects remotely and tailoring the programme to meet the needs of the sector during this time.

We are planning to postpone the Induction and Immersive Retreat ( due to be held in July and August) and will adapt the programme depending on the situation we are faced with in September. The updated version of the programme will  be sent to accepted participants on 1 July (which of course, is subject to change with the unpredictable circumstances).

Selection Process

We are looking for leaders who show that they are on the start of their journey to becoming leaders of the Head, Heart and Hand.

To apply to join our next cohort you’ll be asked to…

Stage 1

Complete an application form
by midnight 1 June

Stage 2

(if successful at stage 1)

Video yourself delivering a 5 minute Stump Speech on what you believe to be the purpose of education

Stage 3

(if successful at stage 2)

Attend virtual development morning / afternoon (approx. 3 hours)

Applications open January 27th 2020, register your interest below.

Stage 1 submission deadline

17th March 2020

Stage 2 submission deadline

7 days after being notified of success at stage one.

Window 1 Development Days

23rd, 24th, 27th April 2020

please ensure you are available for one of these dates when applying

We are planning to run additional Window 2 Development Days in May for applications received after 17 March. However, we have a limited number of places on the cohort and cannot guarantee that we will have remaining places. To guarantee consideration, we would strongly advise that you apply before 17 March.

We want to ensure our selection process is inclusive and accessible by everyone, if you have any queries about the selection process outlined above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Applications for 2020 are now open!

Start the journey

You will be asked to register an account with Big Education in order to apply for the Big Leadership Adventure.

Please ensure that your email address is correct as this will be our main method of communication.

Continue the journey

If you have already registered an account with us, continue your application.

Stage 1 submission deadline

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the vital role leaders in education are playing in relation to it, the deadline for window one submissions has been extended to 29 March. If you submit your application before this date, you will be assessed at the end of April. Further assessment dates will be available for those who submit their applications after this date. 

Stage 2 submission deadline

7 days after being notified of success at stage one.

Window 1 Development Days

23rd, 24th, 27th April 2020

please ensure you are available for one of these dates when applying

We want to ensure our selection process is inclusive and accessible by everyone, if you have any queries about the selection process outlined above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The practical stuff

Commitment from the leader

Note: This is subject to change, depending on the current circumstances surrounding Covid-19

Immersive retreat: 25-27th August (compulsory)

6 full days out of school in year one.

5 Saturdays (one of which is an overnight immersive retreat) in year one.

This cohort will be predominantly run in London, leaders must be willing to travel to sessions.

Year two of the programme will be less days overall.

Staying in your school or organisation for the duration of the programme, unless your new school/organisation is willing to cover the remaining costs of the programme.

Cost: £2000 per year  (paid by the individual or organisation)

Commitment from the school/ organisation

Headteacher/Chief Executive is engaged in some or all of the programme.

Allow school release time for leaders on the programme (see commitments for the leader).

To develop a school of a Big Education, we encourage more than one leader from each school to apply.

School/organisation is willing for leaders on the programme to work on potential areas for innovation back in the workplace.

Cost: £2000 per year, per leader.

Big thanks to our funders

Salesforce.com, Inc. is an American cloud computing company headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Big Change reimagine education so that every young person can thrive in life not just exams.