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Professor David Hopkins ‘Unleashing Greatness – a strategy for school improvement ‘

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Wednesday 18 January 2023

4pm - 5.30pm




Online study



A group of children sitting around a table and drawing.

There is a paradox at the heart of contemporary school improvement and system change in education. Why is it that despite the phenomenal increase in our recent knowledge about what works in schooling, that standards still lag behind expectations and school level performance is far too variable?

In this presentation, David Hopkins addresses this paradox and concludes that unless we focus unrelentingly on the quality of teaching in both our small and large-scale reform efforts, then current practice will never meet society’s expectations.

The presentation begins by reviewing the global evidence on school and system reform and from this proposes an eight-step strategy for both sustained systemic educational change and school improvement. Although top-down policy may be necessary initially if the school or system is in a poor state, but as one progresses the move from good to great, cannot be mandated – one has to ‘unleash greatness’. The eight-step strategy for unleashing greatness focuses on building capacity for pedagogic improvement that has the potential for generating an increasingly specific language for teaching and learning that significantly aids consistency and precision in the quest for both excellence and equity for all students.

Professor Emeritus David Hopkins is currently Chair of Educational Leadership at the University of Bolton, as well as being Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Education, University College London, and the University of Nottingham. David is passionately committed to improving the quality of education for all and has worked at the intersection of policy, research, and practice for over forty years.

Among a range of educational roles, he has been Chief Adviser to three Secretary of States on School Standards in the UK, Dean of Education at the University of Nottingham and holds visiting professorships at universities around the world. David helped found the National College for School Leadership in England and consults internationally on school reform.

Despite two new knees, David still practices occasionally as an International Mountain Guide; over the years he has led 12 expeditions to the Greater ranges and was one of the ten British Mountain Guides to first receive the UIAGM carnet in 1978. He has written prolifically on educational reform and leadership; he recently completed his school improvement trilogy with the publication of Exploding the Myths of School Reform; the previous books being School Improvement for Real (2001) and Every School a Great School (2007). David was recently ranked as the 16th most influential educator in the world by the American based Global Gurus organization.

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