We live in an era of accelerating change, affecting every sphere of human existence – including education. Our education system is facing challenges from a number of directions, including poor literacy and numeracy results, increasing truancy, and teacher workload for example. In recent years this has resulted in review after review and waves of ‘new thinking’ in an attempt to mitigate these concerns.
Globally we are faced with unprecedented challenges including climate change, environmental degradation, global pandemics, poverty, political instability, and acts of terrorism for example. While the impact of these things on education may not be as immediate as some of the ‘internal’ drivers, they have the potential to be just as impactful and so deserve our attention as leaders and planners in the education system.
The ability to look long and wide with a future focus, while also keeping a ‘hand on the wheel’ to maintain what needs to be done in the present is a rare talent. And yet it is essential that as leaders in the system, we are paying attention to these things and planning strategically how they might be addressed. Otherwise we are doomed to be continually operating in a ‘response’ mode. The major concern here is that when acting in a ‘responsive’ mode the actions taken are invariably anchored in old ways of thinking and acting.
Often, when I share this thinking with schools, school leaders and teachers I hear feedback highlighting how difficult it can be to keep up with what’s happening and the impact it might have on education.
This has prompted me to undertake an education environment scan, using information from a wide range of sources and representing it in a way that can be used by education leaders to inform conversations and decisions about the future direction of their organisations and the system as a whole.
In this document I’ve explored a range of ‘internal’ change drivers, and a variety of ‘external’ change drivers, using a modified version of a PESTLE analysis to organise the information and create a framework for meaningful engagement and provoke conversations.
This document has been worked on in the background for some months now. As can be imagined, it was easy to keep on growing as I came across new ideas and information. But I’ve decided to halt things here and release it for wider circulation and feedback, in the hope that some might find it helpful at this point in time when so much change appears to be happening, and the need for critically minded, future-focused leadership has never been so important.