Bluyonder Greg Whitby

Updated: 42 min 48 sec ago

Bluyonder voices #4 – a connected school leader

15 November, 2017 - 07:02

I hope you have been enjoying bluyonder voices so far; if you like the podcasts then please rate on iTunes.

John Goh is what I would call a connected principal in today’s world. He’s on social media (@johnqgoh), writes a blog,  is on twitter every Thursday evening hosting #ozprimschchat and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For the past twelve years he has been leading the culturally diverse community of Merrylands East Public School in western Sydney.

John is a school leader who is actually walking the talk through the introduction of flexible school hours, agile learning spaces and using technology to deepen engagement in learning. Thankfully, he and his parents came to a compromise when it came to John’s career and he ended up in teaching.

Categories: Planet

The academisation of schools

7 November, 2017 - 22:36

After another big school year, I’m now on professional leave for the next few weeks where the bulk of my time will be attending an advanced leaders course at Cambridge. I’ll also be visiting some innovative schools and meeting with educational authorities in England and Scandinavia. The focus will be on how these schools and systems are responding to the transformation agenda.

Last week I spent two days with Stephen Heppell visiting West Thornton Primary Academy and Stanley Park High School in South London. The chance to spend time talking ‘schooling and learning’ with Stephen is priceless but it takes on an added dimension when you are able to see innovation in action and talk to creative and passionate school leaders.

England is currently undergoing a mass privatisation of schools, which appears to me as to be a way of devolving more control to each school. Local Education Authorities (LEAs) are being phased out and replaced by Academies that receive government funding directly. In this way, the LEA is made redundant. It is a process called ‘academisation’ where not for profit entities are being encouraged to join together as Multi Academy Trusts (MATs). Forgive the acronyms!

Trusts are formed by willing Academies who can become de facto LEAs. There is no overall oversight by governments outside of setting performance benchmarks, which if not met, can lead to school closures. While this is a very general description there is a high degree of concern in the UK for the direction being taken. Like other education systems, there is an ever-widening gap between great schools and those struggling.

However, from what I’ve seen there is a real drive for transformation across schools. Pockets of innovative practice are evident but as always, much harder to sustain over the long-term. New spaces are emerging as teachers are moving to more collaborative practices and personalised learning. The good news is that teacher learning is a high priority in schools.

Those who read this blog know that I have been critical of state and federal education policy in Australia for some time. In comparison to what is happening in England I think we can be thankful that our policy platform is relatively stable. The key is to achieve balance between total autonomy and central control. Although we haven’t reached Finnish status, we are seeing greater trust as schools realise they can demonstrate excellence in learning and compliance.

Categories: Planet

Teachers are the new transformers

1 November, 2017 - 21:16

The fast pace world in which we live challenges us to think differently about the nature of learning and teaching. I’ve been talking a lot this year about the need to move from an improvement agenda to a transformational one. While the transformational agenda is sector blind, it does lie at the core of our mission in Catholic education. When we transform schooling, we transform individuals and society. It calls us back to the real purpose of an education, which is not simply to prepare students to become mere servants of the economy. Rather it is to strengthen relationships with Christ and with each other and to enrich a view of the world in which life is worth living. Education at best provides a solid foundation for all members of society for living life to the full.

At the start of this year, Bishop of Parramatta, Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen outlined his vision for Catholic Education. It is a vision grounded in the Gospel message of radical inclusion. A radically inclusive school exists to deliver a contemporary education and quality outcomes for all students especially those on the margins of our communities.

Transformation is a journey into never been before territory. It is a prodigious challenge to our imaginations that calls us to continually ask ‘what if and why?’ Transformation is a journey into the deep – deeper relationships, deeper learning, deeper teaching and deeper knowledge. It does not mean launching into the great unknown and hoping for the best. It recognises that we must launch from a solid foundation of evidence, theory and best practice. It challenges all working in education to think creatively, to act courageously and to continually seek more engaging ways of drawing out the capacities, talents and gifts within each child. Education must not only be life-long but it must enable us to grow in wisdom and understanding.

The changes we see in technology and the arrival of artificial intelligence create an urgency to move beyond the status quo into unchartered territory by re-visiting the core questions of what (we teach), who (are our learners) and how (do we engage and inspire all learners).

There are many forces seeking to re-shape the future of schooling including governments who seek a return on their massive investment in schools as well as a workforce fit for the knowledge economy. However, those that are critical to the transformational agenda are teachers who can continually re-focus on the core purpose of education and re-imagine schooling for a new era.








Categories: Planet
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