Beating the odds, and the system

Purpose-led transformation in further education

Achieving swift, noticeable culture change in an organisation is one of the toughest challenges a leader can take on. It is a particular challenge in the further education sector, characterised, as it is, by significant budgetary constraint, a demanding accountability regime and a culture of high expectations combined with regular and often ill-considered top-down policy reform. This publication explores this issue, sharing one leader’s perceptions of effective culture change at his own struggling college. The perspective it takes is a personal, albeit a recognisable, one. However, the lessons are transferable, and leaders in the sector are engaged with and think hard about the issues this experience raises.

There is, of course, no one way to run a college and there are no ready-made solutions when it comes to changing the culture and performance of an organisation. That would be the wrong way to read this paper. Rather, it gives leaders different options and ways of thinking about problems and challenges that may or may not be relevant to them, and, I very much hope, the confidence to try something different. New ideas and fresh thinking are the lifeblood of good educational leadership, but they must be tempered by a shrewd and carefully cultivated understanding of purpose, people, place and possibility. – Dame Ruth Silver

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