The London Leadership Strategy and Denmark


Almost two years ago a Danish journalist employed by a leading Danish newspaper came to London to research a story on the London Challenge and LLS. He was particularly interested in London’s success in raising standards and closing gaps in performance (a growing issue of concern in Denmark) as well as System Leadership and school-to-school support. The articles he wrote about his experience in London had quite an impact and as Chair of the LLS I was invited to speak at a national education conference in Copenhagen attended by Headteachers, Communes (local authority) leaders and the Ministry of Education. This was followed by an invitation to speak at two national teacher conferences held in Odense and Middelfart, to a University Conference in Aarhus, and directly to the Ministry of Education Civil Servants and Ministers in Copenhagen .

Most recently Rob Carpenter and myself addressed a Conference of Headteachers and Commune Leaders in Haderslev, South Denmark. There have been a number of delegations to London from different communes of Headteachers, education leaders and councillors and also the Ministry who have spoken with various Directors of the LLS and visited London schools. In November there will be another delegation from Aarhus who will also visit London’s schools as well as the DfE and the London Institute, University College.

Various Danish delegations have been very impressed with the work of LLS relating to leadership development and school-to-school support. They have had access to our Prospectus and Programme details as well as the Nine Pillars of Greatness.

Their context is quite different from ours. Along with social equity and life security born of their welfare model the Danes are ranked as the world’s most contented people in surveys year after year. Hygge (togetherness), Tryghed (social security), and Trivsel (well-being) are the three graces of Danish culture and socialization. They have a strong, local, communitarian, democratic tradition, running their schools within a light touch monitoring framework from communes and the Education Ministry. They do not have an inspection system. They do have some performance data but don’t use this to compare the performance of schools and communes or construct league tables. They are resolutely against a market economy in education and any form of competition.

Although they are co-operative and collaborative in their relationships this doesn’t translate very well into school improvement and they are fascinated with our models of school-to-school support and sharing best practice which they want to implement. They do recognise that they need to do much better with disadvantaged children and young people and they have been very impressed with the moral purpose, high expectations and ambition demonstrated in London schools along with behaviour for learning. They are also impressed with what London schools provide in terms of well-being and inclusion as they expect parents to do much more than we do and are reluctant to intervene beyond ‘traditional schooling’. Although they don’t like hierarchies of teachers and leaders and tend to have very flat - although relatively generous - pay structures, they are very aware of the need to develop much better leadership in their schools at all levels and want to try out some of our ideas.

It is likely that our partnership with Denmark will grow so if any schools would like to host any future delegations please let LLS know.


David Woods

Chair of LLS (London Leadership Strategy)

16th December 2016
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