Systems Leadership – Exceptional Leadership for Exceptional Times

Download the Story of BALI

Three people designed the Black and Asian Leadership Initiative (BALI): Patrick Scott who worked for the predecessor organisation that is now The Staff College; Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE who is now a freelance international consultant and coach on leadership, following her role as Principal for the National College for Educational Leadership in the Ministry of Education, Jamaica and me (Meera). Rosemary was an associate with the National College for School Leadership in the UK and I had, due to long term health issues, retired from my role as Director of Children’s Services. I have over 35 years experience in local government and was an HMI in the London region.

A Stitch in Time: Realising the value of futures and foresight

The events of 2020 have demonstrated the value of foresight in policy. But also how hard it is to predict the future. Above all, it shown us how complex and fast-moving our world is. If ever there was a need for innovation in policymaking it is now. (Professor Chris Fox, Director of PERU and colead of MetroPolis at Manchester Metropolitan University) Please download below the PDF ‘A Stitch in Time: Realising the value of futures and foresight’.

Seizing the Moment

Building Local Bridges to the Future – Joan Munro and Ian Burbidge Local government has stepped up in the wake of Covid-19 despite a decade of financial emasculation. A key lesson is that chronic underfunding has eroded slack in the system. Slack is essential; it is not waste, it enables resilience. Ian Burbidge, associate director, RSA To read the publication, please download the PDF below.

Humanising the Digital Workplace

Business leaders had no choice but to change their workplaces due to COVID-19. Now is the time to cement those changes to support powerful new ways of working. Discover how putting human needs at the centre of your digital transformation delivers sustainable prosperity. Download the PDF to read the full article.

“We need to rock the boat” – Sherry Malik

The author of this post is Sherry Malik, who is passionate about social justice and social care. She has over 30 years experience of leading and managing a diverse portfolio in public services. She is currently a NED @Dimensions UK and a former DCS @NSPCC, exec roles @MyCafcass, @LBofHounslow and GSCC. I told myself that talking about what I experienced in the context of my gender and my race would somehow label me, that it would stop others from seeing me as a credible senior manager…. The airwaves continue to resound with the issues raised by Black Lives Matter campaign. While I am really pleased that everyone is engaged and there is permission to talk right now, for me personally,…

Schooling for the Future

The Staff College is pleased to announce the publication of the first think piece from our new Schooling for the Future Series entitled “Meeting the digital challenge.” This think piece by our Strategic Adviser, Anton Florek provides an overview of the educational challenges posed by the 4Th industrial revolution and explores the question, “What is the purpose of schooling in 2020?”  It contains embedded links to a rich source of reference materials to support dialogue, challenge thinking and inform the practice of those involved in the planning and delivery of schooling for children and young people. Click on the link below to access the document.

Anonymous: Covid-19 Learnings & Predictions

I’m sure you’d agree that our weeks and months in lockdown have been a challenge. We’ve all had our trials, but the one thing that’s common between us, is that we’ve learned. Learned how to adapt. Learned how to cope. And learned how to remain optimistic. Some of us have had to learn quicker – our incredible key workers. Here, we share comments from a Secondary Academy Head that wished to remain anonymous, about what they’ve learned, and what they predict for the future of Children’s Services when some kind of normality is restored.   Things I’ve learned When facing difficulties, the people who can best deliver are within the organisation not without When told the critical information you need…

The Virtual Staff College

Now, more than ever in recent history, we turn to our incredible public services for help and support. Our duty is to help them in return, in any way we can. The truth is, that when one part of our family of services is fighting, we all join that fight. Self-isolation and our recent ‘lockdown’ status puts pressure on us,  families, and inevitably, children. It also brings out the best in people, and the changes we have seen in recent days have been uplifting during a period of significant anxiety and, sadly, grief. We’re proud of all our members and alumni and the great work they are doing. However, we know that during this difficult period we can do more…

Creating change for the ‘pinball kids’

The rising number of pupils excluded from school and their dire prospects following exclusion are signs of social stress, policy failure and systemic dysfunction.

RSA Pinball Kids – Preventing school exclusions

In the last five years, there has been a 60 percent increase in the number of pupils permanently excluded from England’s schools. By 2017/18, the last school year for which data is available, there were – on average – 42 pupils expelled each school day. In that same academic year, pupils were suspended from school over 410,000 times, missing – on average – two school days at a time. Pupils are most commonly expelled or suspended for ‘persistent disruptive behaviour’ suggesting that there are a group of pupils who consistently bounce up against the boundaries of their school’s rules, norms and expectations. It is this group that former head teacher Tom Sherrington was describing when he used the term “pinball…

Inclusive Inquiry: student-teacher dialogue as a means of promoting inclusion in schools

This paper traces the development of Inclusive Inquiry, a new approach to the promotion of inclusion in schools. It explains how this builds on a programme of research carried out by the authors over a period of 20 years. Central to the approach is dialogue amongst teachers and their students about how to make lessons more inclusive. This involves children becoming researchers who learn how to use research techniques to gather the views of their classmates, as well as observing lessons. The approach was refined as a result of a three-year action research study carried out with a network of eight secondary schools, in three European countries. It was then trialed in 30 primary schools, in five European countries. In…

Fight or flight? How ‘stuck’ schools are overcoming isolation

This evaluation report investigates why some schools that have previously delivered a low standard of education for long periods of time have managed to sustainably improve and others have not. It examines the role of school improvement initiatives and intervention in this process. The report finds that we need a system of deeper inspection and better support to improve education for children in these schools.

European Toolkit for Schools

The European Toolkit for Schools offers concrete ideas for improving collaboration within, between and beyond schools with a view to enabling all children and young people to succeed in school. School leaders, teachers, parents and other people involved in different aspects of school life can find helpful information, examples of measures and resource material to inspire their efforts in providing effective and high-quality early childhood and school education. The aim of the Toolkit is to support the exchange and experience among school practitioners and policy makers. European Toolkit for Schools

The Fix – Debt and Poverty

This is the third series of Radio 4’s programme which tries to solve some of the UK’s most difficult social problems. This year, The Fix spends three episodes looking at one issue: debt. Why is it such an intractable problem in the UK, where 15% of the population have no savings at all? Presenters Matthew Taylor and Cat Drew visit the borough of Barking and Dagenham in east London, where more than one in ten people there owe money to the council. They speak to working people about how debt is affecting their lives, to the council about what they’re doing to try to help, and ask why current solutions don’t go far enough. The Fix – Debt and Poverty

Developing inclusive and equitable education systems

The year 2019 sees the 25th anniversary of the World Conference on Special Needs Education. Co-organized by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education and Science of Spain, and held in the city of Salamanca, it led to the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, arguably the most significant international document that has ever appeared in the field of special education. In so doing, it endorsed the idea of inclusive education, which was to become a major influence in subsequent years. On the occasion of this Forum, UNESCO will capitalize on its unique convening power to give new impetus to inclusion in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by addressing questions such as: How…

Schools without walls

“Exploring the schools that extend their impact beyond the school gates by working with the local community. This RSA-ECIS (Educational Collaborative for International Schools) report includes the stories of 11 schools in the UK, USA, Italy, and Israel that are committed to community partnerships. Schools Without Walls shows how these school’s collaborations with local charities and voluntary organisations, professional bodies, arts and cultural organisations, colleges and universities, and businesses benefits students and the wider community.”  


By Meera Spillett, Associate, The Staff College. Following on from the previous Think Piece, this paper suggests that there exists a uniting concept, that when effectively applied, can become a powerful tool for whole organisational and individual change, potentially creating the context for increased equity in the workplace and ultimately leading to improved service provision for diverse communities. Underpinned by the concept of Cultural Competence, organisations can create the conditions to receive and support more Black leaders, helping Black staff and leaders to survive and thrive within their roles and address the barriers that sadly still exist for Black staff in achieving primary leadership roles. In addition using this approach can make their commissioning and service delivery more suitable for…

For long-term improvements, schools need to slow down

Pressure on schools to make rapid improvements discourages deeper thinking about long-term solutions. An article by: Jess Harris, Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Newcastle Mel Ainscow, Emeritus Professor of Education , University of Manchester Nerida Spina, Lecturer in Education, Queensland University of Technology Suzanne Carrington, Professor in Inclusive Education, Queensland University of Technology Published by The Conversation.

Community Collaboration. A councillor’s guide

Engaging people in the decisions that affect their lives is an essential feature of local democracy. This goes far beyond town hall meetings and opinion surveys: we must recognise that communities often hold the answers to their own problems and allow them an equal voice at the table. For the purposes of this report, we call this concept ‘Community Collaboration’.>In partnership with Local Trust, LGiU has undertaken a year-long project to define and promote Community Collaboration and uncover the best examples of it in practice. We have been asking how councillors can actively support communities to lead their own projects by facilitating conversations, using their network and influence, and advocating within their local authority. This report showcases the best examples…