Monday, 5 November 2007

Despite our success this year we still face a reality where about half our young people are achieving mediocre and unsatisfactory outcomes at the end of eleven years of statutory education and a significant proportion achieve nothing. The current inspection, testing and standards approach will slowly ratchet up the scores but it will not reform learning, improve outcomes and close the increasing gap between the best and the worst.

We all know that secondary schools need more than tinkering at the edges… we need a learning-centred transformation to achieve transformational outcomes. If schools are to be significantly better they must be significantly different and the answer lies in new institutional models that recognise the nature of learning and the nature of the learner. New community based learning centres with local leadership creating new dynamic institutions with creative and imaginative responses to a rapidly and constantly changing society.

We must rethink content, process, capacity and meaning in the light of an enormously complex and information rich society. We must build on our increasing understanding of how the brain actually works, of the different kinds of intelligence and the different learning styles of individual learners. And we must recognise that in a complex, modern society we need to address each of the three major forms of behaviour and discipline… authoritarian, autonomous and democratic.

To achieve this fundamental transformation we must:
¨ Make our institutions more flexible, open-learning centres that support 24:7:365 learning;
¨ Focus on learning not teaching, emphasising individual learning and core competencies with learning experiences that are learner-centred, life-centred and brain-based;
¨ Move away from the idea of the teacher to the coach, consultant or learning leader model;
¨ Ensure that each learner has a personal learning plan and a personal coach and mentor;
¨ Establish a creative future learning framework where ideas and issues are reviewed, considered and tried and where we experiment and look for feedback;
¨ Encourage competition but focus on partnership and collaboration;
¨ Focus on the powerful and imaginative use of ICT;
¨ Develop new systems of accountability, assessment, evaluation and review to encourage continuous innovation, development and improvement;
¨ Build learning teams and learning networks within, and across, schools and communities;
¨ Develop integrated multi-agency partnerships that link together all agencies that work with learners and their families;
¨ Decentralise and develop democratic control alongside democratic value-systems;
¨ Develop new ways of engaging and involving parents and carers and communities;
¨ Develop new ways of engaging and involving children and young people;

In this brave new world, we need to understand the importance of forming new connections… of people, of ideas, of networks… and we must to be open to new ideas and we must continue to thrive on chaos and transformation.

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