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Message from BELMAS Chair


As we approach the end of 2017, members of BELMAS Council have been thinking about the future direction of BELMAS and ambitions for 2025.

At Council’s annual strategy meeting in November, discussion focused on the future development of three key elements of what BELMAS does. These are: the role and effectiveness of BELMAS Council, BELMAS’ offer to members, and the shape and content of BELMAS Conference.

Council’s ambition is that by 2025, BELMAS will be the foremost internationally recognised and respected organisation that brings together practice and research in educational leadership and administration for the purpose of improving education for all.

Over the last few years, and under the leadership of highly regarded colleagues, BELMAS has made steady progress towards attracting and involving more practising leaders, as well as increasing the number of early career researchers. This has added new perspectives to professional reflection and debate and helped to ensure that there is always lively discussion, thought provoking challenge and opportunities to deepen understanding and improve practice. Participants at BELMAS Conference often comment on the friendly and welcoming nature of the organisation and this has been borne out by the experience and feedback from those attending Conference for the first time.

However, we need to go further than this if we are to achieve our vision.  We cannot ignore the fact that there are sometimes considerable differences in interests, experiences and professional demands of members researching and teaching in higher education and those practising in other areas of education, for example as school and college leaders. It can be easy to overlook the fact that both groups have stressful, busy and demanding roles, but in different ways and it would be helpful to understand more about these differences which sometimes lead to barriers in communication.

Regardless of our roles and experience, we are all united by an interest in education leadership, administration and management. If we are serious about making a real difference, we must move forward in an inclusive and collaborative manner.

There is work to do and in order to get things moving a BELMAS Futures working
group has been set up. This is a sub group of Council and its remit is to take forward and translate the vision into practical steps. Over the next few weeks and months we will be challenging ourselves to address a number of questions including the following:

  • What do we want BELMAS’ impact to be and how will we measure it? What should be the size and shape of membership in 2025?

  • How do we meet the needs of our academic community?

  • How do we meet the needs of our growing practitioner community? How can we encourage more international members?

  • How can we ensure that our offer is appealing to the wide range of members’ interests?

  • How can we ensure continued sustainability and healthy membership numbers?

This is an exciting time for BELMAS and one which will be significant in defining future direction. We will need to examine in detail the effectiveness and sustainability of what we do now - from our membership offer to the size and shape of Conference. Council is keen to hear views of members on the above, and to receive your suggestions for the future. Please address these, marked for my attention, to the BELMAS office.

May I take this opportunity to wish all members a very Happy Christmas and a successful and peaceful New Year.

Gill Howland

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