Message from our Chair
Our History

The British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) has celebrated over 50 years as an independent voice supporting quality education through effective leadership and management. Ideas and practice, and the relationship between them, are what interest us. Our members are a mixture of practitioners in schools, colleges and universities and working academics, encouraging a unique perspective which brings together the theoretical and the practical and encourages stimulating debate at our conferences and events.

Who are we?

BELMAS members work as school or college leaders and academic leadership and policy researchers mostly throughout the UK but also in 75 different countries around the world. We are united by a common interest in how research and evidence can inform and enhance practice.

The majority of our members are either school leaders or academics. Others work in leadership roles in local authorities and further education colleges, or are research students. We actively welcome new members who share our interests and would like to join our community to research, share or disseminate knowledge and good practice.

How are we different?

BELMAS’s unique contribution is our ability to bring together practitioners and academics as well as representatives from all sectors of education in a context in which no particular interest is represented. Members generate and debate ideas that make a difference and discover, understand and disseminate good practice.

What do we do?

We aim to be a distinctive, independent and critical voice in the pursuit of quality education through effective leadership and management. We encourage and facilitate mutual support amongst our members in their research and practice through our annual and smaller conferences, publication of two journals devoted to leadership research and practice, interest groups with a range of foci, targeted small grants and links with fellow organisations.

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 

Helen Gunter is Professor of Education Policy Management at the University of Manchester.

Professor Helen Gunter was commissioned by the Society to write a paper on the foundation of BELMAS and its development within the field of educational leadership, management and administration as part of our 40th anniversary celebrations. The paper represents Professor Gunter’s own views, but, having published a number of highly regarded books and articles on the historical and philisophical context of the field, her contribution here provides a fascinating examination of the genesis and growing relevance of the Society.

BELMAS: perspectives on origins and development

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