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Systems and Structures Change Nothing, People Do: UK Expert

16 May 2017

A preoccupation with the results of international testing programs and the “march towards standardisation, is having a less than positive impact” on Australia’s school education system, according to a renowned UK educator and change expert.

However Richard Gerver, a former school principal turned acclaimed author and sought-after presenter on leadership and organisational transformation, says education innovation still has the potential to flourish, particularly in independent schools.

Mr Gerver is one of four high-profile international and national speakers presenting at the Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) State Forum – Limitless Possibilities on 1 June.

Mr Gerver said in today’s “high stakes world of education” it was imperative school leaders learn how to move from “change that feels reactive, as is too often the case … to one of proactive change”.

“The independent sector is perhaps the one where education innovation has the best chance of flourishing and therefore, for me, the opportunity to create powerful cultures and models for the future have never been more important,” he said.

“I think that principals are some of the most sophisticated leaders in the world, in any industry, anywhere. It is crucial that they don’t feel guilty about delegating and about creating space to lead as well as manage.”

Mr Gerver was critical of the emphasis education systems like Australia placed on the results of international testing programs like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

“Like so many systems around the world, there seems to be a raging debate between what some commentators call ‘traditional vs progressive education’,” he said.

“For me, historically I always looked enviously at Australian education and its commitment to the development of the whole child. I fear though that the march towards standardisation is having a less than positive impact. It’s why, as a profession, we must do all that we can to protect our professionalism, to exercise it and to focus on what is right for our children and their futures.”

ISQ Executive Director David Robertson said the ISQ State Forum was a biennial event that exposed school leaders and educators to new ideas and inspiring international thought leaders on education.

Mr Gerver is one of four speakers at the 2017 ISQ State Forum – Limitless Possibilities at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on 1 June.

Also speaking is:

  • Angela Maiers, US founder of the global You Matter movement. Ms Maiers will share how two words can change a life and why educators need to prioritise emotional and social intelligence in classrooms as a method to improve student well-being and outcomes;
  • Professor David Christian, director of the Big History Institute at Macquarie University and co-founder of the Big History Project with Bill Gates. Professor Christian is dedicated to sharing his interdisciplinary approach to understanding the history of the world with schools around the globe;
  • Mark Sowerby, inaugural Queensland Chief Entrepreneur and influential business leader. Mr Sowerby will share his insights into Queensland’s start-up ecosystem – a key generator of jobs in Queensland’s transitioning economy.

For more information on the forum and to register go to

Media contact: Justine Nolan M: 0428 612 315 E:

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