BE authentic, BE brave

Education often hits the headlines. In recent weeks, it has been for the most tragic and distressing reasons. Our thoughts and sympathy go to the family of Ruth Perry.

As a leader within the sector, I feel a huge responsibility to be part of the change that is needed. Big Education was formed to be a vehicle for that; we are unapologetic about our belief that schools are too often not working for the pupils, their families, or the staff who work with them. On a call this week, a fellow leader told me that heads in her network are telling her they can’t find a way to ‘fall back in love with the school system’’. Things have got to change.

In a recent conversation with Stephen Morgan MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Schools, he talked about the need to reconnect to passion and purpose within the profession, thinking again about what makes a ‘great local school’.

For us, that starts with values, and it starts with purpose, thoughtfully co-created with local communities. It needs sustained leadership, over time, to create organisations which work for everyone involved. BE authentic is one of our values as Big Education – this means being open, vulnerable and reflective, and saying what we really think. Those qualities are not encouraged or supported in any way within the educational infrastructure. That’s why we need our second value, BE brave.

Yes. We think we have to be brave to do what we believe in and say what we think. Yes. It takes courage as a school leader to make choices in the best interests of children which may be less favourably viewed by Ofsted, or take away resource that might be focused on optimising exam results. The incentives all make the ‘rational’ thing to do as a school leader not always the ‘right’ thing to do. This is no way to run a public service – relying on courage and commitment to individuals’ personal detriment.

Big Education is pretty unique. We have a strong national presence as a voice for change. But unlike many other social enterprises, networks and charities, we have skin in the game. We are working directly in our schools to bring about the changes we talk about. We are taking the risks, and we are talking openly about that.

I have spent my entire working career serving some of the most underserved communities in London, and have worked as a head teacher and now Trust lead for over 17 years. Rarely have I felt more acutely both the need for change and the energy to be part of that.

Now more than ever, we need leaders who can reimagine, be creative and brave, to help shape the future of the system. Applications for our next cohort of leaders for our Big Leadership Adventure programme open on 12 April.

If you or others you know fit the bill, register your interest and apply.

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