IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


New book examines the importance of school belonging

4 April 2022

A new book by Professor Kathryn Riley from IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society, investigates the importance of fostering a sense of belonging for school pupils.

Teacher and pupils talking in a drama class

Published today (4 April 2022), ‘Compassionate Leadership for School Belonging’ looks at why belonging matters, what it looks like in practice, and how schools can work to build their sense of community.

Belonging is that sense of being somewhere you can be confident you will fit in and feel safe in your identity: a feeling of being at home in a place. Professor Riley argues that schools need to be places of belonging. She notes that when belonging is a school’s guiding principle more young people experience connectedness and friendship, perform better academically, and come to believe in themselves. The book also looks at the impact of belonging on teachers and pupils’ families too.

“In these difficult and uncertain times, schools need to be places of belonging where young people can dare to dream.” – Professor Kathryn Riley.

‘Compassionate Leadership for School Belonging’ is based on Professor Riley’s career in schools and her research looking at schools and leadership practices. The book contains observational vignettes and drawings from children, young people and teachers who have been her co-researchers, and presents international analysis from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Professor Riley also offers tools, ideas and analysis about how school leaders and communities can create school belonging. She stresses the importance of compassion for bringing school communities together.

‘Compassionate Leadership for School Belonging’ was published by UCL Press on Monday 4 April 2022.