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Embedding Advocacy in Schools

Dr Phil Cummins and Adriano Di Prato summarise how schools can embed advocacy in today’s learning for tomorrow’s world.


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What is the value of advocacy in today’s learning for tomorrow’s world

It is advocacy which shows our learners the values and value propositions of the selfless and intentional pursuit of better outcomes for people and place and place. We need to create communities of inquiry and practice in our schools that are dedicated to the understanding that our graduates and their world will thrive when learning is characterised by both a fearless determination to promote the interests of others and an habitual interdependence in bringing them about.

Why should schools embed advocacy into the daily work of an education for character, competency and wellness? And what is the nature of the school leader who does such a thing with that combination of humility and willpower that Jim Collins identifies in Good to Great as the hallmark of the best leaders? We think that the leadership of influence through advocacy looks like this:

It is leaders who show the way forward. They do the very important work of personalising, aligning and integrating the values and value propositions of an education for character, competency and wellness into a daily experience and supportive ecosystem that equips, empowers and enables students with the adaptive expertise and self-efficacy for them to experience growth, progress and success as they thrive in our world.

Ref: Cummins, Philip and Di Prato, Adriano, Game Changers: Leading Today's Learning for Tomorrow's World* (Amba Press 2023) p. 14

So how will you as a leader know if you are embedding the advocacy required for today’s learning for tomorrow’s world? You can use the following summaries of both our research and insights from our Game Changers Podcast Series 15*  to help you to gauge your mark and measure as a leader for and through your advocacy for the other:


When we build culture in a school by strengthening it with advocacy for the other, we reinforce the whole work of the school so that it develops the civic, performance and moral character of its learners in a deliberate way so that they might become good people of integrity who know the way, go the way and show the way forward on their pathways to excellence. In Episode 1 of Series 15 of the Game Changers Podcast, our conversation with Glenn Savage, Associate Professor of Education Policy and the Future of Schooling from the University of Melbourne, demonstrated that the heartbeat of advocacy resonated in just this way:

True advocacy is a cultural force, a heartbeat that, when cultivated through regenerative education, becomes a catalyst for profound cultural change. There is an intricate dance between educational policies and the cultivation of a culture where advocacy, for and with the other, including our planet, is not just taught but lived.

Glenn Savage | Game Changers Insight


When we build leadership in a school by informing it with advocacy for the other, we co-construct a compelling narrative about the progress of a school from yesterday to today to tomorrow that prepares future builders to help others to interpret and navigate through complexity, particularly through their capacity to communicate. Episode 2 of Series 15 of the Game Changers Podcast with Rosemary Kairuki, social entrepreneur, author and the 2021 Australian Local Hero recipient, revealed the way a leader’s advocacy can be immersed in the joy of life:

When the leader’s insight and impact transcend a conventional understanding of advocacy, joy becomes a potent force for leadership. Advocacy, when infused with this joy, possesses a magnetic force that not only inspires but also uplifts, awakens, and empowers communities.

Rosemary Kairuki | Game Changers Insight


When we build learning in a school by orientating it towards advocacy for the other, we contribute to the ongoing learning journey of a school that develops the adaptive expertise and self-efficacy of continuous learners and unlearners to grow in character, competency and wellness, achieve success in the school’s graduate outcomes, and thrive in their world. Episode 3 of Series 15 of the Game Changers podcast with Sandra Milligan, the Executive Director of Melbourne Assessment and Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne, brought clarity and energy to the exploration of advocacy within learning

Effective advocacy is intrinsically tied to learning. There is an intricate connection between advocating for educational reform and the transformative impact this advocacy has on students, the entire system, and ultimately the broader community.

Sandra Milligan | Game Changers Insight


When we build performance in a school by focusing it on advocacy for the other, we support the establishment of a culture of high-performance in which solution architects learn how to ask the right questions to produce evidence-based and research-driven answers to multi-dimensional problems. Our conversation in Episode 5 of Series 15 of the Game Changers Podcast with the dynamic Drew Cortese, the Director of Global Partnerships at Avenues The World School, was an energetic exploration into the realms of advocacy and performance

In the world of education, performance is not just a show; it's a powerful tool for making a difference, shaping how schools should engage with students’ heart, head and hands. 

Drew Cortese | Game Changers Insight


When we build strategy by aligning it with advocacy for the other, we use future-fit thinking to create and implement a way forward that will ensure the attainment of the school’s preferred future by encouraging the responsible citizenship of learners with the perspective to balance the needs of their local, regional and global communities. Our conversation with Ali Durban, the Co-Founder of the Gesher School UK, in Episode 5 of Series 15 of the Game Changers Podcast, offered a masterclass in advocacy and strategy, weaving a tapestry of change through her groundbreaking work.

Advocacy is an intentionally purposeful journey, not left to chance but carefully charted. A strategic approach transcends conventional boundaries, emphasizing that true advocacy goes beyond rhetoric — it's a transformative endeavour.

Ali Durban | Game Changers Insight

Systems and Operations

When we build systems and operations that are enriched with advocacy for the other, we refine the knowledge engine of a school so that it becomes a community of inquiry and practice focused on improved outcomes for learners who collaborate with each other as team creators. In Episode 6 of Series 15 of the Game Changers Podcast, Joann McPike, the Founder of THINK Global School, took us backstage and guided us through the intricate pathways of advocacy in systems and operations.

True change is rooted in systemic thinking and operational efficiency in structures that recognise that the world is our classroom. This understanding plays a crucial role in nurturing advocacy skills in students, shaping leaders who can navigate the complex landscapes of societal change with empathy and a deep consciousness of the other. 

Joann McPike | Game Changers Insight

Despite the ebb and flow of differing influences across and upon education, there's a constant force of influence that has remained steadfast: our educators. All of the evidence internationally shows us that our teachers are our greatest resource for the impact we can have on how our students learn, live, lead and work, especially through our advocacy for them and the way in which we show them what it means to advocate for the other themselves. Our special series conversations with Dr Jason Dewling, the President of Western Canada and Asia Pacific, LCI Education Network, served as a poignant reminder of this:

Educators are not just instructors; they are architects of human potential, leaving an indelible mark on individuals and communities.

Jason Dewling | Game Changers Insight

So, the challenge is ours, game changers, to make the most of the opportunities presented to us to build the adaptive expertise and self-efficacy of our learners (indeed of all the people in our school communities) through our and their advocacy, and to help them to amplify their own voice, agency and advocacy, those qualities that truly characterise today’s learning for tomorrow’s world.

Let’s go!

Phil & Adriano 

*You can purchase your copy of Game Changers: Leading Today’s Learning For Tomorrow’s World (now published by Amba Press) through Amazon here, Barnes and Noble here, and Booktopia here.

Dr Phil Cummins FRSA FACEL FIML is the Managing Partner of a School for tomorrow, Managing Director at CIRCLE – The Centre for Innovation, Research, Creativity & Leadership in Education, Associate Professor of Education & Enterprise at Alphacrucis University College, and co-host of the Game Changers podcast series. Adriano Di Prato is a best-selling author, broadcaster, co-host of the Game Changers podcast series and the Academic Operations Manager at LCI Melbourne, a progressive art + design higher education institute.

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