Consultancy and mentoring for change in a complex organisation

The Setting 

The Church of England, Birmingham, runs a bid-funded project called Leadership Pathways, which trains future leaders. It is a collection of blended courses hosted on Moodle. Since its inception, the project has gone through several phases of development.   

The Challenge

The courses under the Pathways banner were originally delivered face to face. During a period of restructuring and development, the organisation decided to adapt them so they could be delivered part online and part face to face (blended learning).  

Sam Hudson is the Learning Pathways Coordinator, tasked with the job of transitioning the courses into the new, blended format. Sam had no previous background in teaching, course design, or pedagogy, so she needed a sounding board and mentor who could guide her through the practical demands of the project.  

To this end, she was introduced to Simon as an educational specialist with expertise in Moodle. Someone who could come alongside for the journey. 


At first, Sam asked Simon to support her as a technologist, working mainly on the code for the Moodle site. This was a successful arrangement. 

At the same time, the organisation recognised that the Leadership Pathway courses needed a learning designer and educationalist to give hands-on support over the longer term. Recognising Simon’s value to the organisation the conversations shifted from ‘how can we do X?’ to ‘How do you think we should address specific learning design problems?’. This was a far bigger task. Rather than asking Simon to perform practical technology-related tasks, Sam and her team now asked Simon to advise on all aspects of course design. He was now a key voice in the course redesign process.   

While working on the design aspects of courses, Simon mentored Sam so that she could carry on without him. He trained her in some html code and aspects of learning design. ‘This is typical of Simon’s generous approach to training’, she says.

Simon also continued to be the ‘expert in the room’ for organisational course design meetings for the full suite of courses offered by Birmingham diocese, including an Unconscious Bias course and Reader ministry training course.  

The impact of working with Simon 

Simon’s impact is hard to put into words, says Sam. Basically, without Simon ‘the course wouldn’t be any good!’ 

Sam had felt ill-equipped for the role at first, but with Simon’s support and training she soon became able not only to function but also to flourish. The knock-on effect on the organisation has been huge. What Sam learned from Simon she has been able to pass on to the diocese, a sort of trickle down effect from Simon, through Sam, to the organisation as a whole.      

What it’s like to work with Simon?

‘Simon has a collaborative approach coupled with a genuine curiosity’, says Sam. He gives all of himself to the work at hand, wanting to be fully involved. This, Sam says, is because he values long term professional relationships. ‘He’s very attentive and knowledgeable’, she adds. 

One of the traits of a good consultant is the ability to provide options. Simon is great at listening and then exploring possibilities and solutions, but without being prescriptive. ‘He’s always open. Always interested’ and is ‘incredibly generous with his skills and knowledge’.

‘Would I recommend Simon? He’s my go-to person for all matters in educational technology and learning design’.