Message from our Chair
Our History

Who We Are and What We Do

The British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) has been an independent voice for over 50 years, supporting quality education through effective leadership and management.

BELMAS members operate as senior leaders across a host of education settings, as well as policy researchers. With members in 75 countries, the organisation offers a global perspective on how research and evidence can influence best practice.

The charity supports its members in their day-to-day practice, research, and planning by providing annual events, the publication of two journals exploring research and practice, interest groups and targeted grants. In addition, BELMAS holds an annual conference where members can gather and engage in key debate, discussion and collaborate on.

Our Mission and Vision

Mission: Our mission is to be the place where research meets practice in Educational Leadership Management and Administration.

Vision: Our vision is to be an innovative, globally recognised and respected Learned Society for the development of Educational Leadership Management and Administration.

Our Values

Integrity: We are transparent, honest and hold ourselves and others to high standards

Scholarship: We are a global learning community that embraces difference of opinion

Social Justice: We are brave and equitable

Inclusion: We recognise many voices and celebrate diversity in all of our work

Welcome to our BELMAS website – this has opportunities for BELMAS members both new and old, but please engage with us about what we do, as for BELMAS to be the Learned Society for all of us interested in educational leadership, across all its levels and areas – is a continually evolving piece of work, that all our members need to play an active part in.

From Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) to structural reform to critical education policy, our wide team of active members (well-supported by our small team of employed staff) run Research Interest Groups (RIGs) in all these areas, and more. We want you to be informed of all that BELMAS has to offer to anyone interested in educational leadership from Early Years through all forms of schooling and into Higher Education.

We are interested in the leadership, the management, and the administration – of our field of educational leadership – and if we don’t provide what you are looking for then please do email me or let the office team know through the info@belmas.org.uk address, as we are keen to continually develop.

We have been working steadily over the last few years in changing our structures, and website, to ensure that we are fit for our charitable purposes: to support both our Journals and our 13 RIGs in providing research and events that matter across our field so whether you are an Early Career Researcher (ECR), or have many years of research or practitioner experience to bring to our events and research work, we welcome you joining us and playing whatever role you’re able to – so please do get in touch with your thoughts.

To a casual observer, it may not look like much has changed but we are a more robust organisation on its way to being a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (a CIO). This new CIO structure streamlines what we do moving forward (removing the two forms of governance we had previously, and replacing it with one) ensuring appropriate ever-changing governance of what BELMAS does next by enabling regular elections and changing personnel to be involved, with the continuity of our employed staff team, and by utilising the advisory experience and policy-memory of our newly created Distinguished Service Award (DSA) Advisory Board.

We wish to support engagement of all our members by launching new initiatives such as the Membership Support Fund for Conference, Hardship Fund for those whose circumstances may prevent them from renewing membership and extending our student offer to include membership rates to ALL students as opposed to just those who are in full-time education.

We believe that we need to nurture and support the next generation of BELMAS leaders, and we cannot do that with barriers to engagement. We wish to encourage participation through events and activities such as our newly established Early Career Researcher (ECR) Month, held every October and our Emerging Researchers RIG, which may be just the place for you, if you are doing a Masters, a doctorate, or in your first five years post doc. Equally, this support extends to our experienced researcher community too with our range of Awards, Bursaries and Grants.

Our focus moving forwards is to live our mission, vision and values by investing in driving high quality research, that comes together with practice in the field of Educational Leadership, Management and Administration.

I look forward to meeting you at in-person and online events, and seeing our offer across the field grow because of our combined involvement – we live in interesting times from climate emergency to democratic challenge, and educational leaders everywhere are busy playing their parts in this. BELMAS is the Learned Society that represents you in your work, and develops our scholarship of the field, but it also gives practitioner voice and academic weight to these debates – so please join us if you haven’t already.


Deb Outhwaite

Important Key Dates in the Development of BELMAS:

  • The British Educational Administration Society was set up in 1971. In 1973 BEAS was incorporated and the original Executive Committee was replaced by a Council of Management.
  • The word ‘Management’ was put into the title in 1980 to form the British Educational Management and Administration Society.
  • The word ‘Leadership’ was put into the title in 2000 to form the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society.
  • BELMAS converted from an Charitable Company to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) officially in 2024.

The origins of BEAS is located in UK field leaders networking with the International Intervisitation Programme (IIP), and the Commonwealth Council for Education Administration (CCEA, later CCEAM) from the 1960s. The IIP was held every four years from1966, and its first meeting was at various universities in the USA and Canada, and was sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation and the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). While international connections had been facilitated by private visits and the creation in 1963 of the Journal of Educational Administration, the real initiative for the IIP was William Walker of the University of New England in Australia. The participants came from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and the USA, and those from England and Wales who networked internationally in the 1960s set up BEAS in 1971, and the first chair was Eric Briault from the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). In 1973 BEAS was incorporated and the original Executive Committee was replaced by a Council of Management. During the 1970s and into the 1980s the Council of Management had representatives from LEAs, Schools, and FE, but the major grouping was from HEIs and included leading names: Baron at the London Institute, Taylor in Bristol, with Bolam at Bristol, Bone at Jordanhill College of HE in Glasgow, Glatter at the London Institute, Hughes in Cardiff, and Watson at Sheffield Polytechnic. The aim of BEAS was to promote, conduct, and disseminate research into educational administration in order to support the preparation and development of those in or aspiring to administrative roles. This was done through networking at home and abroad, the production of a journal (originally known as the Educational Administration Bulletin, and from 1976 it was called Educational Administration), and an annual conference. The membership of BEAS was meant to reflect the broad appeal of the field to include teachers, headteachers, LEA officers, civil servants, as well as academics in colleges and universities.


The period from the mid 1970s to the late 1980s was dominated by debates between ‘administration’ and ‘management’, where the tension was between the use of educational administration by professionals in local and national government, and by international researchers in Australia, Canada and the US, and in the UK the term management was promoted by those in Polytechnics and Management Centres, and members of the profession in the school sector. Management was further enabled by the 1988 Education Reform Act that introduced site-based management based on budgets, market, HRM, and the headteacher as managing director of the school as a small business.


From the 1990s field members began focusing on leaders, leading and leadership with important debates about the role of headteachers as corporate executives and school autonomy. Major interventions into field purposes and knowledge production took place 1997-2010 when New Labour governments identified school leadership as vital to national standards, and so they invested in leadership training and accreditation through the National College for School Leadership.


You can read more about the history of BELMAS in an essay prepared by Professor Helen Gunter (University of Manchester) for BELMAS. This historical work was reported in her 1999 PhD thesis, An Intellectual History of the Field of Educational Management from 1960, and this available on her website. Additional sources by Helen Gunter have (a) examined the labelling tensions between administration, management and leadership (journal article); (b) the debates about field purposes (book); (c) how UK governments have invested in school leadership (book).

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