The end of November saw RSA Academies hosting the Student Leadership Conference for Year 12 and 13 student leaders from Arrow Vale RSA Academy, Whitley Academy and RSA Academy, Tipton.
Here are some of the TOP 5 TIPS from the students and the RSA Fellows who joined in for a day of inspiration and conversation.
Marie Nixon, Chief Executive at Sunderland University’s Students Union starts us off.
1. You’re a leader all the time. You don’t have to wait for the ‘big’ job or opportunity to start being a leader. You can be a leader in your community, in your area of interest, in anything. Get on with leading and the big leadership opportunities are more likely to come your way.
2. Don’t be scared of ‘don’t know’. One person can never know everything. Surround yourself with brilliant people and together you can know all sorts – and work out the answers to what you don’t.
3. The power of the unthinkable. Don’t be afraid of ‘mad’ ideas that might seem beyond the realms of possibility. It’s a great spark for exciting conversations which help you decide on ambitions and exciting things you want to change and do.
4. The boldest measures are the safest – changing something a tiny bit usually requires exactly the same effort as changing something radically. Be bold, be brave, attempt to do what you really want to do rather than what you might get away with. It’ll take the same effort and you might as well go for what you want.
5. Telling it like it is. Feedback is super powerful and it takes a bold soul to give it. Feedback is essential to make sure you’re getting to where you want to be. When you’re giving feedback make sure you do it with accuracy and kindness and that you’re doing it for the good of the person affected or the project. It’s NEVER a chance to be mean.
Followed by Prince Chivaka and Cynthia Ariana, Head Boy and Head Girl at Whitley Academy in Coventry.
• Communication is key
• Develop confidence in the role
• Be very firm, but friendly and be assertive and considerate in a team
• Plan an agenda for each half term and meet with Student Leadership Group and the Principal
• Encourage others to become leaders, be a role model
And Rick Hall from Ignite’s 5 Rs: the characteristics of creativity… and leadership
1. Resilience – be determined and learn from your mistakes, this is part of the process of getting towards the solution
2. Resourcefulness – working out what to do when you don’t know what to do
3. Referencing – see something is like something else and make the connection, learn from this
4. Reflection – step aside and observe, use mind mapping as a technique to help
5. Risk taking – pushing the boundaries, going outside your comfort zone
And lastly from Andrew Watts, Head Boy at RSA Academy in Tipton
• Plan, plan, plan – set goals, what do you want to achieve?
• It’s crucial to talk to people – what do students want from you? Expect the unexpected.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you don’t have all the answers and learn from the example of others
• You have to make big decisions – consider everything, sometimes what you want isn’t best
• Be willing to get involved – you have to be in it to win it
Duncan Piper at the Young Leaders Consultancy has the parting shot. He encouraged us to think about self-less leadership: how can I help you get to where you need to be?
The South Central Region of the RSA are holding a series of events aimed at sharing ideas about education. These events are run by and for RSA Fellows with the aims of:
- Sharing knowledge and ideas about education
- Meeting and networking with other Fellows
- Clarifying existing, and provoking new, ideas for potential projects
- Sharing information on Catalyst funding which could potentially support the growth of the ideas.
On Thursday 12 September, at the Leadership and Training Centre at Shenley Brook End School, Tom Welch and Lesley King gave a presentation and led a discussion on the idea: Supporting Social Mobility. This is a guest blog from Tom Welch.
Our talk for the RSA South Central Region’s Ideas in Education Series started from the premise that exam results are necessary, but not sufficient, to ensure social mobility.
The forty or so people who took part in the evening needed no encouragement to engage. So free-flowing was the conversation before the presentation proper, that we were considerably late starting, but all knew each other much better for it.
Only 23% of white boys on free school meals get five good GCSEs compared with 55% of all pupils.
We began with an examination of some previous research that we had carried out called Bucking the Trend – a study of white boys of British origin, eligible for free school meals who had gained 5 A* to C at GCSE or equivalent. This study aimed to give these academically successful students, a huge minority in their demographic, a voice that could be heard by educators – why did they think they had managed to buck the trend? How could schools learn from their experience of their nascent upwardly mobile journey?
The most pertinent finding for the purposes of the evening’s discussion, however, was that over 45 of the boys we interviewed had spoken, without prompting, of the social and psychological challenges of their social mobility. Their descriptions reminded us of Richard Hoggart’s ‘Uprooted and Anxious’ in The Uses of Literacy written some 50 years prior to the boys’ experiences.
The room entered into a lively discussion about how the challenges associated with social mobility, for the individual students themselves, could be ameliorated, while ensuring that the benefits of the rich experiences that are part of their journey could be accentuated and brought to the fore.
How can we ensure that upwardly mobile students are not left floundering between two worlds, feeling uprooted and anxious?
There was a broad consensus that, while helping the most disadvantaged students academically is important, and can facilitate mobility after compulsory education ends, broader societal changes - particularly in terms of what we, as a society, value and aspire to - are necessary if we are ever to ease the passage of social mobility and move toward social justice.
I would be interested in discussing further, with attendees and Fellows, the challenges of social mobility – both facilitating it and the psychological challenges faced by the upwardly mobile students. How can we ensure that they are not left floundering between two worlds, feeling uprooted and anxious?
You can book now for upcoming events in the Ideas Education series:
To find out more contact Fellowship Councillor for South Central Bethan Michael.
The RSA is delighted to support today’s launch of a new Open Public Services Network (OPSN) report on ‘Making sense of school league tables’, which uses publicly available data to assess the quality of teaching in UK schools. A roundtable event to mark the report launch is taking place on Monday 9th September at the Guardian.
OPSN grew out of work by the 2020 Public Services Commission, which looked at the long-term pressures and opportunities facing public services in an era of austerity and social and demographic change. Some of what we found was daunting. The challenges facing public services are stark, not just because there will be less money but also because of the pressure of rising demand. By 2030, an additional six per cent of GDP will have to be spent on public services simply to meet the social costs of an ageing society and maintain existing cross-party social commitments.
But there also grounds for optimism. Citizens have a growing expectation of control over their lives and the services they use. Through our Commission and our subsequent work on RSA 2020 Public Services, we have been developing an approach to public service reform based on what we call social productivity. The focus is on unlocking the potential of citizen and social resource through improving the quality of the relationship between people and their services. In an environment in which money is short and demands are growing, mobilising a wider range of social capacity to create more productive individual and community relationships will be critically important.
For that potential to be fulfilled, we need to see a change process with at least two distinct steps. Step one is the provision of better data, which can empower citizens through greater accountability, a clearer voice and more informed choice. Online technologies and open data are key facilitators for this.
Encouragingly, change on this front is happening at an impressive pace. Already, the public can see in more detail than ever before where its money is going, what is being done with it and – though this is considerably more difficult – what is being achieved with it. Information from good data enables the public, individually and collectively, to scrutinise provision, challenging it to be more efficient, effective and responsive.
In some cases, open data will not only amplify citizens’ voices, but drive their choices. Where they can do so, they will access or exit services partly on the basis of the information they receive.
Schools, more than most public services, have been at the frontline of publicly accessible performance information for many years, and are acutely aware of its benefits and pitfalls. Some of these pitfalls have related to the crudity of the data set before the public. Schools are complex institutions, charged with achieving a myriad of social and educational aims in dramatically different contexts.
OPSN’s new report on school league tables, its first major publication, includes new analysis using information sourced from the Department of Education to make it accessible to parents, carers, teachers and school governors. The report offers a way of re-configuring complex data so that it can be genuinely useful to parents and other community members in terms of accountability, voice and choice. It describes a fresh approach to data presentation that draws on a large number of data sources to produce an accessible, rigorous and meaningful picture of school performance.
OPSN has demonstrated that the first step in transforming public services through better data is well under way. It is a necessary preparation for an even more fundamental second step. We need to move from information for accountability to information for social collaboration. This is something the Commission, and now its legacy body in RSA’s Action and Research Centre, terms information for social productivity.
The challenge for the future is to use data from services in a way that engages the public in a process of shared design and delivery, creating better outcomes not just for themselves, but for the wider public good. How could individuals respond to data on school exclusions in order to co-design more effective behaviour management policies? How could information on performance be shared regularly with the local businesses and cultural institutions capable of enriching the curriculum? How could parents use real-time pupil progress data to become more involved in their children’s education?
This report is a welcome step towards answering these questions. We look forward to the next steps for OPSN.
Ben Lucas is Chair of Public Services at the RSA and Principal Partner of RSA 2020 Public Services. Joe Hallgarten is Director of Education at the RSA.
A launch event held in partnership with the Guardian will take place on Monday 9th September. Click here for additional information.
Guest Blog: Why we must have a better bacc and why we need the understanding, imagination and common sense of the RSA
This guest blog from RSA Fellow Mark Hewlett reflects on recent changes to the national curriculum and last week’s launch of RSA’s Grand Curriculum Designs. It builds on my recent RSA Journal article about the Modern Baccalaureate.
Educational change continues; two weeks ago, proposals for the national curriculum. Last week, changes to primary accountability. We can all support initiatives to raise standards in basic skills of literacy, numeracy and ICT: the basic “languages”. But despite grand rhetoric there is a sense of disappointment, reflected in observations in The Times the following day, by Alice Thomson, who, being a self-avowed traditionalist, should be an ally of the Secretary of State. She sought, but failed to find, the imaginative vision to spark the originality, innovation, and inventiveness we really need for our national success. Equalling Hong Kong and Singapore in maths and literacy is fine but if that is the limit of the Government’s aspirations then we are being sold short. The Department’s sights are too low, its vision too narrow. We can do better.
These views were strongly re-enforced at last week’s launch of Grand Curriculum Designs, a new CPD programme led by the RSA and the Institute for Education. Teachers, dissatisfied with the current curriculum, were reporting on initiatives which focused not on the relatively superficial regime of the National Curriculum, but on outcomes in terms of general skills (intellectual/practical), competences (the ability to apply ideas to a range of specific issues) and positive attitudes to learning: the fundamentally important elements of learning.
Alice Thomson’s reaction to the modest proposals for the national curriculum reflects the views of those of us engaged in the arguably more significant task of designing a “better bacc” (shorthand for a curriculum and assessment framework) to meet our national interest, and the interests of all young people.
Our current curricular model (described misleadingly, as “academic”) is ill-designed to achieve the aims we all want, as stated by business leaders (the CBI is dismissive of the current E Bacc), by those responsible for the public services, the arts and sport even academics, and not least, politicians, whose statements of aims and aspirations are fine but bear only a weak relationship to the National Curriculum whose assessment system deflects energies from the essential and the important to activities of marginal relevance to the aims they espouse.
Questioning the relevance of our current curriculum, whose structure made sense in the thought world of 18th century Dissenters, whence it originated, Professor John White, in a seminal RSA paper, “How special are subjects?” recommends that we must ask fundamental questions about the purposes of education, for example as considered in “The Point of Education” (Matthew Taylor’s article in the RSA Journal Winter 2008) or the central question posed in The Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education, “What counts as an educated 19 year old in this day and age?” These questions are not being effectively addressed by Government at this time.
If we agree that we want our education system to develop the whole range of young people’s talents to equip them with the skills (intellectual and practical) knowledge and understanding to achieve our national economic, social and cultural aspirations, what responsible person would produce an end-of-course assessment system which ignores or at best sidelines, Engineering, Design, Technology, Health Education in all its facets, Social Education, Citizenship, the Arts, and relegates to inferior status, those social sciences of Economics and Business Studies, Government and Constitution, Sociology, Psychology more relevant to understanding the world they will live in than History, that finds itself promoted with Geography, to pre-eminence, quite arbitrarily and with no coherent rationale. Let it be noted that all these subjects are as “academic” as those currently required in the E Bacc.
This is why we need the support of the RSA, to challenge ill-considered conservatism and inject some realism, common-sense and clear thought into debate about curriculum. The RSA carries weight as a society of thoughtful enlightened people who represent the interests of all educational stakeholders – in academe, business, the public services, design, technology and the arts, promoting intellectual thought and research and their translation into practical reality, a society characterised by its constant, restless drive to look forward and outward, to produce better solutions and characterised by its awareness of the multi-dimensional nature of learning. And all with no spurious distinction of status based on pseudo-academic prejudice -which infects thinking at the DfE, and results in a curriculum narrow, shallow and unfit for purpose.
This blog aims to generate support for those working for a better curriculum: broader, deeper and more imaginative. Visit the web sites of the RSA, Whole Education and HTRT or contact Joe Hallgarten for further information.
We at the RSA believe in the power of making, especially when it involves newly emerging approaches; our intention is to help grow the infrastructure and opportunities for designing and making at a local level, both in London and around the country.
Our first venture into this arena was held at Somerset House last Wednesday, and was a resounding success. We introduced and connected the varied and rather fragmented groups interested in this agenda and showcased some of the great work already happening. 300 people came to this inaugural event and the basement of Somerset House’s west wing was filled with professional makers and designers, hobbyists, 3D printing companies, technologists, schools, educators and many more groups that defy easy categorisation. You can see the full list and links here.
One of the surprising and heartening things about this emerging area is that in terms of age it’s a level playing field: age is no barrier to entry at either end of the spectrum. The Ideas Foundation brought several groups of children from schools in the north west, all of whom were collaborating across various subject areas: English, Art, DT, and ICT students had been working together to create award winning projects that they brought to the event. Many of these teenagers had never been on a train before, let alone to London, yet clearly had huge talent, and were more switched on to the possiblities of emerging technologies than some of the adults in the room.
For many, the most surprising speaker and workshop leader was 14 year old Amy Mather, a remarkable girl who held a workshop for 15 adults making conductive thread circuits after speaking about her adventures with Raspberry Pi.
The confidence of all these young people around technology reminded me of Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms work at MIT which I first discovered when studying Human Computer Interface Psychology in the eighties. One of his theories about the power of computers which really struck me and has stayed with me throughout the years is that computers are non-judgemental; you program something and it either works or it doesn’t. If you’re struggling at school and feel misunderstood, technology can be your saviour. The picture above doesn’t look that different from what we saw this week – kids playing with robots. The difference is that with the invention of Arduino and Raspberry Pi, combined with the knowledge transfer powers of the internet, the technology is now available to many more of us.
However, the event wasn’t all about robots and new technology, exciting though both areas are. Sophie Thomas ran a Great Recovery teardown workshop taking apart electronic products, exposing the elements that we throw away so casually and looking at ways we could re-design them from scratch to re-use our valuable resources. The Restart Project showed us how to fix and repair products that we might previously have thought were destined for the dustbin. Technological innovation is always exciting: developing ways to deliver consumer electronics in a sustainable way is just as important and this conversation was at the heart of the event.
What I found most exciting about the event was the amount of cross cultural connections that were being made as the day went on. On the face of it, we followed a standard trade show format of stands, talks and workshops, but what was different about this event was that everyone was meeting people from beyond their usual networks who were interested in the same subject as they were, but from a different angle. We had educationalists connecting with design innovators to inject a new way of thinking into schools, product designers hatching plans for research papers with RSA Fellows, RSA Student Design Awards winners (see video above) talking to chemists and finding out that there were less harmful chemicals that they could be using, and many more people connecting over their passion for this area. The excitement in the room was palpable all day long and everyone left having had their brains “rewired” in an unexpected and powerful way.
We are currently developing plans for an ambitious and innovative project in the areas of making and education, which will be rolled out both in London and around the country. Also look out for the RSA FutureMaker Premium; a prize for innovation in this area.
Thank you to all stallholders, speakers and workshop hosts for your fantastic contributions, to the Comino Foundation who initiated and funded the event, to everyone who attended the event and to Somerset House for kindly letting us use the recently vacated HMRC mailroom to host the event.
The event was a collaboration between the Design and Enterprise strands of the Action and Research Centre at the RSA.
Nat Hunter is Co-Director of Design at the RSA
You can follow her @redfish66
The Big Idea: making the most of RSA Animates in school using a new collaborative website, WatchDrawThink.org, by Ewan McIntosh FRSA, Founder of NoTosh.com.
RSA Animates have proven irresistible intellectual nuggets for many “grown ups”, and evidence suggests they help us learn about topics better. But what about their potential for little ‘uns and teens at school?
RSA Animates can undoubtedly provide rich stimulus for learning, and the visual representation of abstract or complex ideas has become increasingly admired by educators all over the world. However, harnessing these clips successfully is not necessarily obvious or easy for educators who’ve not tried before.
RSA Animates have proven irresistible intellectual nuggets for many “grown ups”. But what about their potential for little ‘uns and teens at school?
WatchDrawThink is a new RSA Catalyst-supported project launched by Ewan McIntosh FRSA and colleagues Peter Ford and Tom Barrett FRSA at education firm NoTosh. The collaborative site aims to provide a space for teachers to share ideas, example lessons or projects where students use RSA Animates for their learning. The idea is that teachers will get inspiration on how they might use a whole or part of an RSA Animate video as an initial stimulus or part of an immersive discovery session on a given topic.
Why use RSA Animates in school?
RSA Animates have tended not to be used widely in school, perhaps because they handle genuinely complex cross-curricular knowledge. But it’s the very visualisation that is so tantalising, that also makes the comprehension of these complex areas of knowledge easier, and the viewer’s chances of retaining the message so much better. Professor Richard Wiseman’s own research study of RSA Animates showed that the visualisation used could help viewers retain up to 22% more information than had they just listened to the audio alone. You can watch Richard Wiseman and Andrew Park, the illustrator, talk about this at an RSA Event.
Support from Catalyst helped deliver an initial session with RSA Academies teachers in March, where the potential for their use within the English curriculum was confirmed. Teachers spotted relevance to the curriculum in areas as diverse as physical education (Dan Pink: The SurprisingTruth of What Motivates Us) and mathematics (Renata Saleci on The Paradox of Choice), as well as a blanket appreciation of their potential use in language arts, design and primary education.
WatchDrawThink’s first prototype
Launching as a prototype platform in time for teachers to get engaged in the last term of this school session, WatchDrawThink is crowdsourcing as many light-touch – or involved – ways as possible to harness three particularly rich RSA Animate clips in the classroom. Anyone, student, teacher or parent, can jump onto the site and add their innovative, short, sharp idea for handling a segment or whole clip to achieve a specific curricular goal or to create an engaging task with the clip.
Over time, based on how people use the site in the first couple of months, the website will also provide support from the NoTosh Team and RSA Academies with specific ideas and advice on:
- How to plan a competence-based unit of work or set of lessons that encourages student-led research on the back of an RSA Animate stimulus
- Different ways to use visualisation to express knowledge and understanding on a topic, à la RSA Animate.
How you can get involved
Teachers and students can get involved this term and see which of the RSA Animates might help you explain a new, complex topic in a simple way. Use the WatchDrawThink website, Twitter hashtag #watchdrawthink or Facebook page to share your own lesson outcomes (videos, images, texts, comments, blog posts) and share further ideas.
If you’re a parent or Governor, share the site with your child’s teacher.
To get help from RSA Catalyst for your social venture visit www.thersa.org/catalyst
I spoke this morning at the annual IBO conference for those schools who are piloting the career-related International Baccalaureate – the IBCC. We’re proud that our RSA Academy in Tipton is at the forefront of this exciting development. Nothing I have seen, in England at any rate, has come closer to breaking the academic-vocational divide. It demonstrates the power of schools and organisations bypassing policy fluctuations to take their own rigorous approaches to assessment. In a recent speech to Teaching Schools, Michael Gove signaled his enthusiasm for teacher-made GCSEs and other assessments. Today’s launch of the Progressive Awards Alliance is another intriguing example, although perhaps not what Mr Gove had in mind.
I was asked to talk about the future of 16-19 vocational education. Partly to avoid the morass of acronym-heavy policy reports, many of which aren’t relevant to the IBCC schools outside the UK, but mainly to cover up for my lack of detailed knowledge (if in doubt, broaden it out), I framed my presentation through a different question:
What would it take for the future of 16-19 vocational education to be bright?
Then, borrowing heavily from the OECD skills strategy, the Centre for Real World Learning’s report on vocational pedagogy, and a number of summaries of research on adolescence, I offered five possible responses.
1. Escape from the tyranny of the enlightenment.
2. Apply new findings about the teenage brain and behaviour.
3. Create a culture of evidence-informed and evidence-building pedagogy.
4. Turn vocational learning into an entitlement for 7-16 year olds.
5. Be clearer about the role of vocational education for the most disengaged learners.
To keep this blog short, I won’t expand on any of these, although if people ask me to via comments, I’ll be flattered enough to reveal more.
The photos above came from an RSA Area Based Curriculum blacksmith Project at Ark SCE School in Germany. They were taken by Windsor School SCE student Jack Turner to support his Arts Award Gold, with the support of photographer David Crausby.
Joe Hallgarten Director of Education @joehallg
Three weeks before the June 26 Spending Review, it probably feels like a civil service version of Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘squeaky bums time’ down Whitehall way, especially for those Departments who haven’t yet settled with the Treasury. The seven departments who have settled are rewarded by helping to cast judgement on the others. However, with ringfenced budgets in place for two big spending departments, and the give and take of welfare reform rendering the DWP budget virtually untouchable, it probably feels more like tiller touching than any opportunity for radical re-engineering.
Rumours have been emerging that the Treasury might end the ringfenced budget for schools. Tony Dolphin’s blog last week argued that ringfencing the NHS and schools was no longer viable, pointing out that “by the time these [other] cuts are fully implemented, on the government’s current approach, other departments could have seen their budgets cut in real terms by one-third. This represents a massive reallocation of government spending to the NHS and schools.”
Any abolition of the ringfence for schools’ budgets might make the pasty tax and granny tax look like minor media scuffles. Unions such as the NASUWT are already screeching that the Chancellor is not, in practice, protecting school budgets at all. This is reinforced by the IFS’ 2011 analysis showing that, although the schools budget has been relatively protected (with the exception of the substantial cut in schools capital spending) as compared to other areas of education, the cash-freeze in per-pupil funding outside of the Pupil Premium means that the majority of schools at both secondary and primary level will see real-term decreases in funding per pupil each year to 2014-15. Schools with a high proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals are being protected from cuts, with a small minority – about 3% of secondary schools and 10% of primary schools – seeing an increase of 5 percentage points above inflation, as a result of the Pupil Premium. Increases in the Pupil Premium since 2011 have probably made little difference to these overall trends.
Despite this data, and although my RSA Academy headteachers and many Fellows won’t like this, I would still argue for a replacement of the ringfencing of schools’ budgets with a more expansive ringfence. The overall budget for government spending on 0-19 year olds should be protected for the next three years, but the schools’ budget should be open to redistribution within this ringfence. This would enable the DfE, Education Funding Agency and Local authorities to have the courage to have serious conversations about the most effective use of funding to achieve equitable outcomes for young people, and be prepared to make decisions that would be possibly counter-intuitive, hopefully evidence-based and probably unpopular. In doing this, education funders might want to learn from the principles of a social productivity spending review created by our 2020 Public Services Hub here at RSA.
My guess is that a proper ‘zero-based budgeting’ approach to could lead to significant redistribution: away from schools, towards broader services for young people; and away from secondary schools, towards the early years. The graph below from the DfE’s business plan shows how school spending dominates all, and leaves little scope for anything that might impact on the 80% of young people’s time when they are not at school.
Joe Hallgarten Director of Education @joehallg
Andrew Hadley and his team has set up 2020 Education with support from two RSA Catalyst grants to recognise the powerful work of young people to make a difference in their future. In this guest blog Andrew sets out the thinking behind the idea and calls on Fellows to get involved:
2020 Education is a movement in the making. In a nutshell it is about showcasing what schools and community groups can do to prepare young people for the challenges facing them – and the world – in the decades ahead.
This initiative has been started by a group of Fellows and others. An RSA Catalyst grant has helped us get the programme off the ground, and we’re now starting to roll it out more widely across the UK and internationally. We hope Fellows will be instrumental in making this happen so we’re calling for the support of everyone who shares our belief that education needs to be more than simply classroom learning and exams.
- Could a school run its own fair trade coffee business?
- Could it propagate rare orchids and sell them on the commercial market?
- Could you link up students from a deprived rural area with the astronauts on the international space station?
- Could you excite young people about engineering by getting them to build and race electric cars?
We’ve already found examples of exactly these things, and more.
We’re not creating a prescriptive model and asking schools to adopt this (and we’re well aware of the pressure that teachers are under). We’re not setting fixed criteria of what a “2020 Education” project looks like. Quite the opposite: if we want to inspire more people to start something, the best thing we can do is to show them the variety of outstanding examples of innovation already happening in schools and communities, and then let them replicate these ideas or come up with their own. At the same time we will create opportunities for peer-to-peer education among young people , via social media and face to face. And we will show the teachers involved that their projects are not isolated examples but a powerful model of what education can be in the 21s Century.
Projects can be based around all sorts of themes, such as social enterprise; science, technology and engineering; environmental protection or ecology; humanitarian and social issues; intercultural understanding; and more. Broadly speaking, they:
- are school or community based
- raise awareness of global issues
- make an impact locally
- empower young people through active participation, and so develop employability skills
- are innovative and newsworthy
So how can you get involved?
First, sign up to the 2020 Education site where you will find more information, including films of individual projects. Then put us in touch with any school, youth group or other organisation you know of which is running an amazing project, or where there are inspiring adults and motivated children who would like to do so. Finally, tell us if you would like to become a mentor to a project (giving as much or as little time as you are able) – or any other way you feel able to contribute.
As Sir Ken Robinson says, don’t expect the revolution to begin from above. With your support, 2020 Education will harness the energy of the people who are already making it happen on the ground.
Andrew Hadley and his team want to hear from you, please send him an email if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the website and remember if you want to get your idea off the ground you can contact me via email or twitter @pickfordrich. I’m currently working with Fellows in Derby to develop a project that will supply Raspberry Pi’s to schools across the area. What are you doing?
Is there anything Ofsted won’t do? Fresh from Michael Wilshaw’s ‘Damascene Moment’, changing his mind to pitch for Ofsted sticking around to support school improvement (aided by their new regional directors), David Laws claimed last week that Ofsted would make sure that the Pupil Premium was well spent.
Last week’s TES leader questioned Ofsted’s mission creep. Accountable to the Queen, Ofsted has a clear role: “to inspect and regulate services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.” The Chief Inspector’s comments should be limited to telling the world what inspection evidence, and inspection evidence alone, tells us about the English education system, and priorities for improvement. Conflicts of interests around inspecting your own school improvement programme are not insurmountable, but are probably an unnecessary risk, given the emerging market amongst teaching schools, academy chains and other schools and providers to deliver school improvement services.
This mission creep goes against the original instincts of our Chief Inspector. As a brilliant school leader, his philosophy was about focusing headship on the key role of improving the quality of teaching and learning. All other activities, if not necessarily a distraction, should be subservient to this goal. This steer, and a much more focused inspection framework, rightfully reminded those headteachers who were tempted towards excessive innovation, social entrepreneurship and peripheral issues that they should to some extent ‘stick to their knitting’.
Ofsted has enough to get right, right now. Raising the quality of its existing inspectors, strengthening their scrutiny of the FE sector, and sensitively changing its inspection framework to incorporate new priorities should be enough for any body. All public bodies occasionally feel the seduction of extending their remit. Unless it’s a clear takeover of someone else’s powers, this strategic slipperiness is often problematic. Ofsted should resist.
Building on an earlier blog about four foundations for a self-improving school system, I am currently thinking through what the idea of self-regulation might mean in a school system context. It is too early to claim any breakthrough, conceptually or recommendations-wise, but I am fairly sure that a truly self-improving system will need to develop the power to self-regulate, and therefore to write Ofsted, if not totally out of the script, into the margins of footnotes and stage directions. A decade ago, Matthew Taylor and I wrote that ‘Ofsted’s long term aim should be to render itself unnecessary.’ I remember Chris Woodhead laughing off this idea, and perhaps it is fantastical. However, the principle of “inspection in inverse proportion to success” as currently applied to outstanding schools should hold true for the system. Our school system is improving, whilst Ofsted’s role may simultaneously be growing. This makes no sense.