Saturday, 29 June 2013


I have been able to get a break and spent some time reading and reflecting on the challenges we face in building truly world class provision consistently for all young people.  I know colleagues think that is asking the impossible but my visits to some amazing schools in Singapore, Stockholm, Helsinki, York, Leeds, Lincoln, Sheffield, Nottingham and Guernsey have shown me what is possible; what we can achieve if we create the right culture, if we create passionate and compassionate learning places built on skills, character and deep knowledge of what works and what doesn't!
We need to understand that we are working far from an industrial age when we needed batch processed learners or even a knowledge age when all that mattered was what you could remember. We are working in a conceptual age shaped by abundance, driven by automation and powered by the success of the Asian countries who can do most things cheaper, faster and better. An age where learners obviously need the fundamental basic skills but also need a blend of higher level skills, character traits and deep understanding to build the competitive edge that is excellence. Dan Pink highlighted this in his wonderful book 'A Whole New Mind' where he argued that design, teamwork, storytelling, play, empathy and meaning were the keys to success in this new order and should be at the heart of our education and learning places. Interestingly, these things underpin the approaches taken with very young children in Reggio Emilia and with older students in High Tech High. Approaches rooted in problem or enquiry based learning and underpinned by high expectations, excellence, trust and respect! This approach also underpins the work we are doing in Sheffield with the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" programme where we are developing the skills, character and knowledge young people need to equip themselves for success in the world class advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors in the Sheffield City Region. What matters is that we recognise that our children and young people are no different to those anywhere else and that we should celebrate their uniqueness, their talents and their potential and reengineer and re imagine our provision with learning leadership, beautiful systems and intelligent accountability to release their magic!

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