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The world is rapidly changing – we need a paradigm shift within education to enable a dynamic, innovative education system fit for 21st century challenges. Our latest report in partnership with the Innovation Unit, and supported by our knowledge partner WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) explores how school systems can create the conditions for successful innovation that transform outcomes for all learners.

To move further, faster, we believe that school systems should create intentional platforms for innovation that are future-focused, equity-centered, and teacher-powered. In doing this, leaders should reinforce the fact that the process of learning should be a humanising experience, and that profound learning and great teaching are ultimately predicated on the power of human relationships. We therefore need to aspire towards a humanising innovation, defined by Chappell as “an active process of change guided by compassion and reference to shared value”.

If transformation is to come from within education systems themselves, rather than left to market forces or developments in technology, then it will depend upon the emergence of a different kind of leadership. System leaders need to support schools to think more often, more deeply and more radically about their mission. Whilst systems can be far better at creating the enabling conditions and cultures for innovation, schools need to take ultimate responsibility for their own ethos. Inevitably, this points to a significant leadership challenge at all levels. We need leadership which has authentic conviction about the potential for education as humanity’s best hope; and which can both assemble and communicate a compelling case for change.

The aim must be to return teachers to the front and centre of the innovation process, but within a context that challenges both systems and teachers to grasp how public education must change to enable learners and institutions to thrive in the new conditions which confront them.