With SLF 2014 now only 4 weeks away we hear for one of this year’s keynote speakers, Prof Alma Harris about her keynote and her thoughts on Scottish education.
I am looking forward to being part of the ‘Scottish Learning Festival’ 2014 and engaging with this vibrant educational community. I will be bringing a group of Malaysian educators with me and I have promised them a warm welcome but not warm weather! In my previous visits to Scotland I have found that teachers and principals appreciate honesty and integrity so my aim is demonstrate both.
In my session I will argue that we need to go ‘beyond PISA’ to find the touchstone of real educational success and that there are important lessons that systems, like Scotland, can give to the global educational community. Despite the fact that education systems in Asia currently dominate the top of the PISA tables, there is much that the East can learn from the West in terms of educational change and improvement. Some of these messages will be shared with you all.
The aim of the session is not to devalue or dismiss PISA but rather to underline that high performance in education is defined by much more than rankings. The session will argue that we need to put the ‘learner’ at the forefront of our educational reform processes and avoid being seduced by superficial explanations of ‘high performance’ that tend to objectify learners and place performance above learning.
I will also focus upon leadership and will aim to answer the question, ‘what type of leadership is required to ensure success for every student in every setting?’ To answer this question, I will share the findings from two recent comparative studies. The first set of findings comes from a ‘7 System Leadership Study’ that is exploring the relationship between leadership development and leadership practice in differentially performing systems (Australia, England, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia Singapore and Russia). Initial findings highlight that there are more similarities than differences in the approaches these systems are using to secure and sustain improvement. The findings also challenge some of the cultural assumptions and popular assertions about ‘high performing systems’.
The second study looks at leadership within high performing organisations across different sectors (education, sport and business). The full range of empirical findings can be found in a new book with Andy Hargreaves and Alan Boyle called ‘’Uplifting Leadership’. Among, a range of conclusions, the findings from this study show that the type of leadership needed to secure and sustain exceptional performance is that which builds professional and social capital.
Overall, my message is that we need to look ‘beyond PISA’ and to move past the current preoccupation with international rankings, if authentic school and system improvement is to be achieved. I will propose that the real power and potential for system transformation in Scotland resides in the professionalism of its teachers and its school leaders, combined with an unshakable belief that every child deserves the best education possible.
It is with a huge degree of humility that I take part in this ‘Scottish Learning Festival’ 2014 involving educators from many countries. It is also with a great sense of pride that I am speaking at a conference that is about learning first and foremost. Putting the learner at the heart of the reform process, deeply, authentically and genuinely gets us much closer to the outcomes that we want for all young people.
If you want to hear Alma’s keynote then register for SLF 2014.