Caroline Barlow, SSAT Head of Innovation, writes…
In my previous blog, What is innovation; do we really want it?, I reflected on whether we as a profession were really ready for innovation. Two months on, and the answer is a resounding ‘absolutely, we are!’
Since November we have been visiting schools, collecting and collating case studies of Redesigning Schooling in Action. They have been written to be as practical as possible, with an evaluative tool to help schools to consider, adapt and adopt the practice you read about in your own context. They work on the principle that there are few silver bullets out there but much that we can achieve by learning from each other if we keep the needs and characteristics of our own context at the heart of the process.
And from today, this ever-growing body of case studies sharing practical ways in which teachers are innovating up and down the country will be available to SSAT members via our new member-only online area, the Exchange.
(The Exchange is initially being rolled out to members in the eastern region, but will shortly be made available to members nationwide – joining links will be sent by email to member headteachers). If you would like to access the case studies in the meantime, or have any questions about accessing the Exchange, please email email@example.com).
It is no coincidence that the timing of the first release of our Redesigning Schooling in Action work chimes with the burgeoning discussion about a College of Teaching.
In much the same way as the Claim Your College coalition’s proposal for a College of Teaching is calling for the teaching profession to be championed and supported with evidence-based professional development, the schools featured in the Redesigning Schooling in Action case studies have developed successful evidence-based experiences for their students. We have found a willingness to do things differently to do them better – to challenge the status quo, shine a light on current practice, and ask why, with what impact and at what cost?
Redesigning Schooling in Action case studies focus on five core areas: teaching for learning, principled curriculum design, principled assessment design, courageous leadership, and the new professionalism. I hope you will look forward to diving in and exploring them on the Exchange.
For now, here’s some initial trends observed in the schools visited so far:
- Effective internal self-evaluation is leading to genuine school improvement that puts students and teachers at the heart of all that we do.
- Professional honesty and a commitment to support and challenge are being supported and rewarded, developing trust as a powerful driver of improvement
- Intelligent leadership understands the reality of external accountability in our current climate, but in the best schools, this pressure is rarely passed beyond the leadership team. ‘Because Ofsted say so’ is seldom heard in these corridors.
- Clear decisions are made around the required performance measures that prevent them becoming a sole, demoralising focus that squeezes professional dialogue and stops the collaborative challenge that leads to genuine improvement.
- Leaders, teachers and students are working together to redesign the schooling experience to provide the best outcomes, in the short and long term, for both staff and young people.
Our aim now is to provide a vehicle to widely share and celebrate the innovative work in schools. There is a lot to capture and it will be an organic process. We know that the practice exists, and as a profession we must all encourage, develop, celebrate and share it. We aim to provide the evidence and mechanisms that genuinely allow schools to collaborate, working together to tweak and transform the practice and impact for our young people.
A deficit model of education has for too long driven us into competition, compliance and isolation. A surplus model approach is needed now to share the schools and leaders who are determinedly showing the courageous, collaborative and challenging leadership that can reignite the passion in our profession.
For this to be a truly collaborative professional movement we want to develop this alongside schools. We feel it is important that schools are able to contribute and inform the process and would encourage schools to come forward and tell us about the interesting and creative practice, in line with the core principles of Redesigning Schooling that is making a difference to the young people in your schools.
The opportunities for collaboration on a national scale are exciting.
To discuss sharing the work of your school, or to get involved, please contact: RMteam@ssatuk.co.uk.
View the Redesigning Schooling in Action wall chart to find out more.