How does the programme work?

BLA is a two year programme, consisting of eight face-to-face days including a  residential in Year One, and a set of optional modules in Year Two enabling you to build your own bespoke learning experience.

Our expert facilitators have both practical and theoretical experience in innovation and education leadership. You’ll become part of a diverse network of leaders, speakers and contributors to the programme from a range of different sectors, and gain exposure to a range of perspectives allowing you to think outside of your own context and education bubble. Education leaders in the group are enabled to articulate their values, to share their own experiences, and to inspire each other, building a sense of belonging into all aspects of the programme. 

You’ll be joining a safe, inclusive, non competitive and deeply connected community of practitioners. The programme offers intentional investment in relationships as the foundation for any meaningful work. You’ll also be challenged to champion diversity and inclusion in your leadership and within your organisation. 

You’ll share and explore systemic challenges to offering a Big Education to children and young people, and codesign innovative solutions that align with your beliefs and values.  You will explore what it means to lead with Head, Heart, and Hand in equal measure. You will explore your own role in changing the education system in your context and beyond.  

By joining the BLA, you become part of a unique and powerful movement: shaping the future of education at what we believe is a critical moment in history.

Who is the programme for?

The BLA is the only changemaker leadership programme for educators in the broadest sense, not limited to those working in schools. We encourage those working in education businesses, charities, social enterprises and the public sector to be part of this programme too.

If you’re not sure whether the programme is right for you, please get in touch at

Design Principles

In line with our focus on design thinking, several key design principles underpin the design of the programme:


Throughout the programme, leaders will be supported to explore and reflect on new content, tools and theories, from education leadership and beyond, both national and international. 


We learn better together.  Leaders on this programme will be part of a peer-to-peer learning community which supports and challenges them as they put their learning into practice.


The daily demands of leadership offer little opportunity for personal reflection.  Throughout the programme, leaders will be invited to slow down, reflect, and consider what is most important for them in their context.

Core components of BLA Year One

Empowering leadership

This module introduces the Big 8 Toolkit – a set of behaviours, mindsets, cultures, and approaches that underpin an empowering, developmental and innovative culture within your organisation. The work draws on insights from psychology about how we develop and manage relationships, and is informed by client-centred coaching approaches which focus on empowering positive action.  Leaders both benefit from and use the Big 8 Toolkit with their colleagues.  

Leaders are also introduced to the Big Education Diagnostic Tool on this module: the self-evaluation tool offers a framework and set of questions to trigger conversations and reflections which can help explore what an organisation delivering a ‘Big Education’ might look like.

Philosophy of education

Deep exploration of your personal sense of mission and purpose is fundamental for any leader trying to shake up the status quo. This module requires you to think deeply about what education, school and learning is for, drawing on some of the different traditions of educational philosophy.  You’ll reflect on your own educational philosophy and how it shapes your actions as a leader, and engage in rich discussions to deepen and develop your current thinking.

Leaders are also introduced to the Big Education 360 Evaluation Tool, a feedback tool designed around the Head. Heart, Hand learning objectives and intentions that underpin the programme.  Leaders share this tool with colleagues and are supported to reflect on the feedback they receive.

Innovation with rigour

We are the only leadership development programme that explicitly develops education leaders in the process and behaviours required to innovate with rigour in education.  This module will enable you to design new solutions to some of the biggest challenges you face AND create the right conditions and culture to enable this work to happen. You’ll develop a ‘designer mindset,’ learning  and practising the Design Thinking process and gaining an understanding of how to effectively facilitate this process in your own context.

Making change a reality

This module offers an opportunity to connect with your own story, and to access a toolkit for effective sector leadership, thinking beyond your own school and making change in the wider system.  You will think deeply about your own story, hear the stories of others, and develop practical changemaker skills, including methodologies and strategies used in Community Organising. You’ll also have the chance to explore the BLA Year Two modules and design your ongoing bespoke learning experience.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Reflective retreat

Developing your reflective capability is a key aim of the programme as a significant contributor to transformational leadership in your own context. This retreat gives you the time and space to develop a richer understanding of their own unique potential and contribution, whilst also learning to pay attention to those habits that may hinder or hold you  back. This celebration of your journey in Year One will deepen connections, give you a chance to reflect on your experiences so far and support you to evaluate your  leadership of the Head, Heart and Hand.

Optional modules for BLA Year 2

There are five optional modules for Year Two and leaders can select three of the five to create their own bespoke learning programme.  In Year Two, leaders also join the BLA Alumni Network, enabling them to connect with their cohort and previous cohorts, building wider networks and alliances.

There is a final celebration event at the end of the year, where leaders reflect on their BLA journey and next steps for their own development and their organisations.

Core components of BLA Year Two

Heart leadership: creating a culture for learning

This module supports leaders to consider strategies to improve their own wellbeing, as well as that of students and staff and to consider the importance of wellbeing to creating a learning culture.  The module also helps you consider wellbeing through a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lens: how can leaders ensure that all members of the school community feel welcomed and valued, creating stronger teams of diverse thinkers.

Call to action: empowering your community

This module is designed and led in collaboration with Citizens UK and explores how education organisations can use community organising techniques to empower pupils, staff, families and the community.  It explores models of community organising that can help shape curriculum, pedagogies and governance.

Sector leadership: making a difference

This module helps leaders develop the confidence, skills and motivation to think beyond their own context and enable sector level change.  The module explores the power of networks and alliances, strategies to develop  an online presence, approaches to making a powerful case for change, and influencing those in powerful positions.

Exchange programme: walk in my shoes

This module enables participants to take part in structured exchange programmes with colleagues in the education sector, shadowing and being shadowed, offering and receiving constructive feedback to enhance their leadership skills.  Leaders will experience cross-sector and cross-phase exchanges, giving them radically different insights into their own contexts and roles.  This module is delievered in partnership with The Forward Institute and please note, there is an additional charge for taking part and a limited number of places.

Becoming an accredited BE trainer: Big 8 and Design Thinking

This module supports those interested in developing further expertise either in the Big 8 coaching toolkit or the Design Thinking approach to become accredited trainers.  Those on the module explore approaches to leading the training and support at workshops with experienced facilitators, and experiment with training colleagues in their own settings.  They can then move into an accredited co-facilitator role with BE, with possibilities for future paid work.

Head, Heart and Hand curriculum: educating the whole child

This module supports those interested in taking a more expansive view of the curriculum in their schools.  Leaders explore the role of pupil agency in curriculum design and different models for curriculum design, considering how they apply to their own pupils and their own community contexts.  They develop an understanding of the importance of community context and ways to empower the community to support curriculum implementation.

Key information

Applications close: 27 September, 2023

The BLA is for education leaders at all stages of their career.  This includes all those working in the education sector, both in schools and beyond

Two year programme with optional modules enabling participants to build a bespoke second year

Eight in-person full day workshops in Year One


One payment of £5,000 for Years One and Two


Year 1: £2,900
Year 2: £2,500

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