This afternoon I visited Benton Park School again...
My colleague David Foley, headteacher, had asked me to come to talk to his leadership team about the future. We all know that change is happening wherever we look at a frightening pace and young people live in a digital world that is so different from the one we grew up in. We need to work within the opportunities this presents to build a new schools and learning system for this new world. A learning system to equip our little learners with the skills they need to be successful bigger learners and to be successful in a world that is changing beyond recognition. A learning system where every little learner is a reader, write and counter by seven or eight, a powerful little learner by the time they leave primary school and on a pathway to success by the time they leave secondary school. We need to nurture talent, creativity and imagination wherever we can find it, and we need to share and network and learn from the things that work well and stop doing those that don’t! And whatever we do we must re-engineer our culture and the current systems that leave so many of our children and young people thinking that they are not clever enough, talented enough or bright enough to be successful.
We need to ask ourselves what works well, what doesn’t and what do we need to do about it. We need to develop new models of learning and we need to create learning places and learning environments that find and release the talent, the potential and the magic in all our young people. Picasso said that every child is born an artist and Einstein said that every child is born a genius. Interestingly, in a study of divergent thinking researchers discovered that children in the early years are extraordinarily good divergent thinkers and that the ability get worse with age so that by the time our children leave school almost none of them can do it any more. Our schools and learning systems must nurture creativity, innovation and potential because the standardised and systematised model of learning many young people are being offered isn't actually fit for purpose. We have to think differently and recognise that everyone has talent, potential and magic and we have to get over this old, and dangerous idea that splits people into clever and not so clever, bright and not so bright, academic and non-academic and recognise that it simply isn’t true!
The last ten years have shown that great learning happens in teams and groups and networks who share ideas about what works and what doesn't. Great learning develops and grows through cooperation, collaboration, networking and sharing. Great organisations, great schools, great classrooms are about great individuals who operate in and with great teams. AND...you don't need to look elsewhere to see great teams and brilliant leadership. Simply look around. Wherever you look there are simply extraordinary colleagues releasing the magic where it really matters. The future is full of opportunities for outstanding colleagues, outstanding teams and outstanding learning places. AND FINALLY... always remember that the best way to predict the future is to invent it for yourself.