Today I attended a Leadership Challenge Conference hosted by Krista Carter, Headteacher at Crestwood School, with keynotes from Peter Rabbett and Alan Newton, Headteacher at Wyvern Technology College.
Peter Rabbett brought a breadth of knowledge from his advisory background which he expertly delivered. His thought provoking repertoire echoed ‘Shift Happens’ and included a dutiful dose of Hans Rosling style statistics that was both information and very engaging. Sandwiched between his two sessions, Alan Newton offered a more factual and personal insight into the working life of a nearly appointed Headteacher, both were of value but for very different reasons.
Here are my notes on Peter Rabbett’s trinity of influence on today’s education; economy, society and technology.
Economy – moving from a manufacturing base to a knowledge base, where research will become our competitive advantage. Traditional jobs and income streams will run dry as talents moves east and lost cost labour moves into the UK. There will be a significant reduction in public spending and change is inevitable.
The pace of technology is ever increasing. From concept to mass adoption timeframes are nearly as low as 3 years. Our learners view of technology is evolving, digital pioneers are now not only consumers but creators, information gathers and technology a part of their everyday communication. For technology to be powerful it needs to be self-motivated, there must be ownership, it must be purposeful and connected (peer-to-peer). The question posed by Peter was how do we adapt teaching to their space.
It was at this point Peter offered a societal review and also recommended The Spirit: Level Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. Supported by statistical evidence and numerous real teaching examples he talked about educational success stories that managed to overcome inequalities. Basically, he was outlining the need to address within society variance, which I interpreted as the need for leaders to address within school variance.
This dialogue was the platform for the second part of the keynote, that I unofficially title ‘Do we know why the children that don’t succeed, don’t succeed.’ It was argued, that addressing the least advantaged, is where the biggest opportunities for school improvement lie.
Park Community School and Marlowe Academy “Proud to be Different” were recommended school visit, to observe schools in which inequality had been overcome. In Peter’s opinion, the key drivers / characteristics to successful schools should include;
- a commitment to the Performing Arts
- a common literacy, rigorously applied
- a belief that learning was more important than teaching
- re-engineering of the school day
Finally, my ‘eyes wide open’ moment, was data displayed as a pictogram and not statistics / percentages. Data was presented as 100 students, similar to the miniature-earth concept. The next step is too find out what our school looks like, develop that visual. At my next opportunity I will write up my notes from Alan Newtons perspective, at the frontline.
Now one of the conversation that spilled out from the impetus to re-engineer schools was the use of mobile phones in schools (one that should also include the internet, social networks, messaging, twitter). First lets correct that term, mobile communication and learning device. Here are my brief thoughts on the matter;
Banning mobile communication and learning devices teaches students that they don’t deserve to be empowered with technology the same way that their teachers are.
It teaches students that communication tools used by staff / adults are not relevant to their own communication needs.
It teaches students that they can not be trusted (or taught) to use mobile phones appropriately in school.
Banning mobile communication and learning devices means you limit your teaching options but also increases unnecessary spending on camera, mp3 recorders and school planners.
Banning mobile communication and learning devices limits your capability as a school to reach an individual student promptly (text / call).