“Teachers need autonomy in the classroom” Keith Budge in the TES

Posted on 10th May 2016

Ahead of the Liberating Leaders conference at Bedales on 25 May, the TES has published an article on school leadership by Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools.

“If we are to be creative and innovative, headteachers need the space to lead and, perhaps paradoxically, this requires us to give others in the school picture the wherewithal to lead in their own domains. Teachers need autonomy in the classrooms as, in turn, do students over their own learning. Not only does this give everyone a stake in the direction of the school, it frees headteachers from the shackles of micro-management and instead allows us to consider the bigger picture.”

Keith Budge commented on the promise of greater freedoms to be found in the latest Education White Paper, and the fractious and uncertain times for education policy and practice. Plans for the academisation of all state schools have been changed following the less than positive reception from teachers, the Opposition and even government MPs, and parents are reported to be keeping their children out of school in protest at the new assessment regime for primary school pupils. All this is taking place against a backdrop of shared concerns about an increasingly narrow curriculum, and school heads being stifled by a fear of finding themselves on the wrong side of inspectors.

These issues will no doubt feature in the Liberating Leaders conference which has a strong line-up of speakers – Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw, creator of the Learning How to Learn MOOC Barbara Oakley, academic Bill Lucas and Silicon Valley leadership expert Danielle Harlan.

Keith Budge continues: “I am confident that our conference speakers will prompt discussions on the hot topics facing education. Delegates will certainly find the day thought-provoking and leave equipped with some new ideas and approaches to try out. The welcome additional feature of our conference is that students will be taking part in the event along with their teachers. They won’t be there as passive observers: students’ involvement in the school’s running, a strong feature from our foundation, is taken as read. Bedales founded its student School Council 100 years ago. Even the food served at the conference – school-reared meat and hand-baked rolls – will have been prepared by our students. This theme of partnership – reflected in our ongoing relationship with King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds – will therefore also be echoed through the dialogue between teachers and students. All of us in the end are learning about leadership.”

Liberating Leaders will bring together staff and students from both the state and independent sectors to explore leadership as it applies to their schools’ distinctive values and practices, and to new developments in teaching and learning. A partnership between Bedales School and the TES, this event is designed for serving and aspiring school leaders (200 places, £75 each), with another 100 free places available for pupils who will be offered leadership workshops. Click here for further information and tickets.