I had the pleasure this evening of attending a meeting hosted by Gillian Heald, one of the guardians of the NZ Secondary Futures project. Around 30 secondary teachers, student teachers and others interested in secondary education gathered for an update on where things have developed to with the project, and to consider the two main themes that have emerged and are being focused on as a priority, Students First and Inspiring Teachers.
This project has been running for four years now, and it was interesting to get a first hand update on how things are going and what is emerging. Many things rang true for me in terms of what was presented, and the discussions reinforced what a multi-faceted job we have to do if we’re to succeed in reforming the way we provide a secondary education for our you.
I was very interested to be introduced to the work of Valerie Hannon, the Director of Strategy in The Innovations Unit (a UK organisation tasked with promoting innovation to improve education) and her work on Next Practice in System Leadership – I can see I’ll be doing some more reading in this area.
Gillian’s comment about NZers being “change wary and change weary” also rang bells with me – she reinforced the fact that the SFP isn’t looking at promoting another “Tomorrow’s Schools” scale of change to our school system, but is seeking to bring about widespread change that is neither “top down” nor “bottom up” – but is achieved through engaging all stakeholders – parents, students, teachers, Ministry of Education, ERO, teacher unions, employers etc – in the dialogue around change leading to the implementation of various ideas and initiatives that will build an understanding of what the future of secondary schooling will be. Judging from the case studies on the SFP website, it would appear that there are already a number of schools and communities doing just that!