Big Picture Learning UK


United Kingdom
Up to £85,000 FTE
19 Dec 2018
14 Jan 2019
Full Time
Contract Type

Big Picture Learning UK is a new charity, set up to implement the Big Picture Learning design across the UK.  We are looking for an exceptional strategic and educational leader to work with our ambitious board to take the charity from an ambitious start-up to a sustainable organisation delivering our mission to transform lives by bringing Big Picture Learning to the UK.

Our fidelity to the Big Picture ethos and design is a non-negotiable, as is our ambition to bring Big Picture Learning to many more places in the UK. We have multiple opportunities to grow and lots of interest in what we do. We are backed by a radical model pioneered and proven outside the UK and our first flagship school is now fully funded and staffed. However, our strategy, our team and our organisational structure is all in development, making this an unmissable opportunity to lead, shape and grow a new organisation.


About the Big Picture Learning approach

Big Picture Learning has had significant impact in the US and around the world, often with young people disengaged from conventional schooling. It is both a philosophy of learning and a radical new design for school. The evidence base is astonishing.  It succeeds by putting students at the centre of their own learning, following the mantra of ‘one student at a time’. The approach explicitly drives engagement in and motivation for learning by unlocking each individual learner’s passions and interests.   More can be found on our website


About Big Picture Learning UK

Big Picture Learning UK was established in 2018 through a partnership between Innovation Unit and Doncaster Council, and is now a wholly independent charity. We are part of the Big Picture International network, working closely with colleagues in the US, Australia and beyond to learn from - and build on - the success of the Big Picture Learning approach elsewhere. We have an ambitious board and a lean operation, supported to date by the Innovation Unit team and a dedicated group of freelance professionals providing admin, communications, design, finance and legal support.

In 2019 we will launch our first school in Doncaster, serving up to 60 students by September 2019 using the Big Picture design. Our CEO will work with the Principal of the school and the Chair and Board of Trustees to ensure the success of this first significant project, as well as respond to growing demand from other localities for support with implementing the Big Picture Learning design. We are developing our strategy which may include opening further schools of our own as well as providing training and consultancy services, materials and Big Picture Learning UK network membership.


The role:

Chief Executive Officer, responsible to the Board of Trustees for the effective running of a new ambitious charity, a flagship school in Doncaster, and delivery of a high impact strategy for growth nationally.

The role is based in London, flexible working with significant travel expected to Doncaster


Key responsibilities:

Ensure success of Big Picture Doncaster

  • Performance management and support to the Principal of Big Picture Doncaster in relation to outcomes, leadership, and fidelity to Big Picture Learning design
  • Oversee operation of contractual mechanisms for Social Impact Bond, including outcomes reporting, relationships with Doncaster Council and Big Issue Invest, contractual compliance and management
  • Ensure fidelity of school to Big Picture Learning design, in partnership with Big Picture US
  • Develop and hold relationships with local stakeholders including Doncaster Council and other local partners
  • Work with the Principal and Doncaster Council to ensure appropriate and ethical referrals mechanisms are in place as school fills up during 2019
  • Provide or enable support to school team regarding safeguarding, curriculum, school systems management and compliance
  • Oversee compliance with national legislation and local policies and report back to Board of Trustees and Local Board
  • Work with Local Board and Principal to develop permanent local governance arrangements

Charity growth and sustainability

  • Develop the Big Picture model of organisational culture & organisational design – by creating an organisation which is Big Picture through and through, and capturing that process to share with others
  • Develop, implement and monitor a mixed income fundraising strategy
  • Develop and hold relationships with funders, investors, Ofsted, DfE and other partners, BPL USA, Innovation Unit

Strategic development

  • Develop a cycle of strategic planning with the board
  • Ongoing analysis of needs and appetite for future BPL UK schools through liaison with partners in national and local government, and other organisations
  • Work with Big Picture US to secure appropriate support to charity in relation to the Big Picture Learning design, participate as part of international network, inviting monitoring & auditing fidelity to the model

Establish a team

  • Define, recruit to,induct and manage employee roles where required, including COO/Finance Manager
  • Oversee the set of up appropriate HR and other processes to support a growing team
  • Ensure the spirit and ethos of Big Picture Learning is at the heart of team culture and motivation

Big Picture Learning UK profile

  • Define and develop a distinctive profile of Big Picture Learning UK in the national education landscape
  • Undertake communications and press work to establish Big Picture Learning UK as a radical and impactful solution to entrenched educational problems

Strategic oversight of core functions

  • Ensure rigorous and strategic financial management of the charity and the school
  • Communications and advocacy for Big Picture UK, including media, website etc.
  • Securing professional legal and accountancy services for BPL UK
  • Overall accountability for legal and financial responsibilities for running an Independent School


About you:

You are passionate about education and you have a detailed understanding of the impact of disengagement and exclusion for disadvantaged young people.  

You know what it takes to change people’s hearts and minds about the things that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and with barriers to learning can achieve and contribute, and you have shown that you can inspire them to take action.

You are adept at maneuvering within a complexity of systems and can mobilise practitioners and changemakers to create new system conditions, to remove barriers and maximise opportunity.

You understand employers and are able to inspire business and organisational leaders to see the benefits that providing real world learning experiences for young people will bring them.  You can do this in a locality and at a national level.

You understand the cultural and resourcing needs of a new and growing organisation and have the confidence and experience to get Big Picture Learning UK, the charity, off the ground and geared for success.

You are resilient and able to deal with sceptics and cynics.  You listen to their perspectives but are not deterred by them from doing the right thing.  

You know UK schools; how they are resourced, regulated, staffed and run.  You understand what great learning looks like and have demonstrated that you know how to make it happen.

You know how money and students flow around education systems and understand what happens when young people are excluded from school; the options that are available to them and their families.

You are knowledgeable about different approaches to supporting young people who are finding school a challenge and able to explain the unique contribution that Big Picture Learning makes and its potential to radically improve their life chances.

You thrive on uncertainty and challenge and see opportunity where others would simply see risk. You are as careful and diligent as you are creative and bold and you inspire trust and loyalty in the people who work with you.

You are not afraid to ask for money and have a track record of securing funding from different sources.  You are able to adapt your operating model to meet the needs of different funders; from local authority commissioners to social investors; philanthropists to fee payers.

Education, knowledge & experience


  • You have extensive knowledge and understanding of working with education commissioners and other accountable organisations, including schools
  • You have experience of working at executive level in start up organisations or small charities, and are well versed in the legal, financial, HR and safeguarding implications and requirements of charities and schools
  • You are self sufficient and flexible and can work without the support of a big or established team
  • You have experience of problem solving complex implementation challenges involving multiple stakeholders
  • You are experienced at fundraising, working with funders, and/or generating new revenue streams
  • You have the capacity and willingness to lead and oversee management of Payment By Results mechanisms
  • You have a deep knowledge and understanding of the challenges faced by young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in mainstream education.  You see the system as the problem and the solution, not the young people.



  • Knowledge of alternative, post 16 and work-based learning provision
  • Educational leadership experience, whether in schools or elsewhere
  • You have demonstrated your ability to implement radical new approaches into resilient systems that are resistant to change.  You understand the associated technical and cultural challenges and have developed strategies to address these in previous work
  • You have extensive experience of working with employers and understand how to engage them in creating extraordinary learning experiences for the young people in their community.
  • Awareness of Social Impact Bonds and/or Payment by Results contracts
  • You are confident and flexible and are able to inspire confidence and flexibility in others.


Personal skills and attributes - essential

  • Utter commitment to the mission of Big Picture Learning and to the ethos of Big Picture Doncaster.
  • Self aware, a learner, as committed to your own growth as those of your team and the students we benefit
  • Superb relationship builder, able to model the empathy and values espoused by Big Picture UK
  • A clear, effective and compelling communicator.
  • A genuine passion for and belief in the potential of all young people.
  • You are passionate and driven, motivated by improving the experiences and outcomes of disadvantaged young people
  • Excellent time management, planning and prioritisation skills.


Terms of appointment

  • This is a 12 month fixed term appointment in the first instance, with a view to becoming permanent, should the right candidate be successful in securing future funding for the role.
  • 25 days holiday per year, FTE
  • This is envisaged as a 4 day per week position in the first instance, with flexible working arrangements available
  • We envisage that the role, and therefore the remuneration package and/or time commitment will grow with the organisation.
  • There is a contributory pension available subject to employee contribution, to begin upon employment.  
  • The role will involve regular national and some international travel, with significant time to be spent in Doncaster during this contract period
  • The Big Picture Learning UK board and team currently operates flexibly from home, and uses co-working space in London
  • This position is subject to an Enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service check and other safer recruitment pre-employment checks.    


How to apply

  • Please send a CV, a letter of application stating why you would like the role, and a completed application form by 12:00pm noon on Monday 14th January 2019.
  • First interviews will take place on 22nd January 2019 if possible – please indicate likely availability on application.

Similar jobs

Similar jobs