About Simon Breakspear
Dr Simon Breakspear is a researcher, policy advisor and speaker on education policy, practice and change. Simon develops frameworks, tools and programs that make evidence-based ideas easy to understand and apply. Simon and his team partner with schools and systems around the world. Over the last decade he has worked with over 100,000 educators across 10 countries, and is known for his engaging, practical and evidence-informed approach.
Simon is the founder of Agile School Leadership, a program and community of committed leaders that are harnessing research evidence and agile improvement methods to create sustainable change within their schools despite growing complexity and uncertainty.
Simon is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales, an advisor to the NSW Department of Education School Leadership Institute, and serves on the Australia Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Expert Standing Committee. He has been a Fellow of WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education).
Simon is the co-author of the book Teaching Sprints: How overloaded educators can keep getting better (Corwin Press, 2021) and creator of the Teaching Sprints approach to professional learning. Teaching Sprints is used by thousands of educators across the planet to engage with relevant research evidence and enhance their adaptive expertise.
Simon received his BPsych (Hons) from UNSW, his MSc in Comparative and International Education from the University of Oxford and his PhD in Education from the University of Cambridge. He was a Commonwealth Scholar at Oxford and a Gates Scholar at Cambridge. Simon began his work in education as a high school teacher and lives in Sydney with his wife and 3 children.
A message from Simon
Hi I’m Simon Breakspear,
I’m an educational researcher and advisor, who helps leaders and their teams to adopt new evidence-informed ways of thinking and working. I’m an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at UNSW, and am fortunate to spend most days of the week working with leaders serving in schools and system roles. Through my speaking, advisory and capacity building work, I partner with educators in order to help them to clarify their thinking, apply relevant evidence and effectively implement for impact. I’m flexible in how I work, but am relentlessly focused on improving the learning and life outcomes of young people.
In all my work, I’m driven by my personal mission of unlocking human potential through improving education systems. This started when I dropped out of my medical degree at UNSW to become a teacher. Now as a researcher and advisor, I see my key role is to take complicated ideas and turn them into easy-to-understand frameworks and actionable tools that can support busy practitioners to be more impactful. By sharing fresh ideas I try to help leaders get beyond the default ways of leading educational change and create sustainable change that is appropriate for their unique local contexts.
My normal approach is to find a ‘sticky’ problem from the field that I really want to make progress on and then work from research to practice. I scan the research literature and international practice to draw out the ‘best bets.’ My team and I then work alongside educators in the field to co-create prototypes of new approaches. After months (or years) of testing and iterating, I share what I’ve learned with other educators to enable them to adopt and adapt in a way that is appropriate for their own context. It’s no surprise that I’ve learned that practitioners often have the best ideas.
After a decade of working shoulder-to-shoulder with leading practitioners, I’ve learned that educational change is both complex and deeply human. I definitely don’t claim to have all the answers nor any simple silver bullets for creating school systems that we need. I’ve become convinced that when practitioners on the ground are supported with useful research, frameworks and tools, making meaningful progress is possible. I hope you’ll find some of my ideas and lessons useful to your work.
Papers & Publications
Teaching Sprints: How Overloaded Educators Can Keep Getting Better (2021).
Book published by Corwin Press.
WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education):
Report on ‘Developing Agile Leaders of Learning: School leadership policy for dynamic times’. View article >
Centre for Strategic Education:
Occasional Paper, ‘Agile Implementation – Learning how adopting an agile mindset can help leaders achieve meaningful progress in student learning. View article >
How does PISA Shape Education Policy, Nov 2014:
Why how we measure learning determines what counts in education. Download PDF >
Talent Magnets, May 2009:
Attracting & Retaining Top Talent. Download PDF >