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UK Review Seminar: A Summary


The BELMAS UK Review of Education Online Seminar, which took place on 25th June 2020 with over 60 participants from all four jurisdictions and from overseas, stimulated a lively discussion. The seminar was an opportunity to discuss the UK Review Report. The report set out the results of workshop-style conferences, held in each of the nations of the UK, to discuss and compare the state of play and prospects for educational leadership, management and administration in the four nations. The seminar considered the report’s implications, focusing particularly on three questions:

  • As we look towards the future following the first months of the pandemic, what national discourses about educational leadership are needed to provide the direction and tone required for improving school education?
  • What changes in the structures and cultures of school systems in the four UK jurisdictions are needed to support educational leadership in responding to future challenges?
  • What are the implications for educational leaders of the new and pressing questions about social justice to which the pandemic gives rise? How should success be assessed as we move forward?

Lots of interesting and challenging points were shared in the discussion. On national discourses, issues that arose included the importance of a co-construction approach to developing policy on educational leadership and the value of ‘locality working’ in which local agencies work together. Getting the relationship right between the local, regional and national levels is a challenging concern in all four nations. Issues arising from neo-liberal policies were raised, and it seemed that a shared language for talking about alternatives to neo-liberalism would be valuable.
The value of structures in the school system that facilitate ways of bringing the voices of different stakeholders together was commended; though it was recognised that structures are not enough on their own. It’s not enough to be ‘in the room’; safe places for discussion and sharing perspectives and ideas are needed. The question about social justice elicited concern about the persistent and, with the pandemic, growing gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils. One participant suggested that the pandemic had shown the fragility of the education systems and the need for a reset. Making sure that the purpose of education and educational leadership is truly educational and inclusive was a theme that came up at various points in the discussion.

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