Education has always been a crucial area of interest for the RSA and its Fellows. While these are difficult and uncertain times, within education it is exciting to see innovative work taking place and opportunities for change being embraced.
It has never been more important to take action, support change and encourage more debate and dialogue. With this in mind we are delighted to be able to announce the relaunch of the Innovative Education Network. We look forward to working with existing members and welcoming new people to the network so that together we can make positive changes in the world of education.
How we work: Our purpose
Incredible work is taking place in all spheres of education. Teachers and schools are making a real difference to the lives of children and their prospects for the future. However, there is also a considerable level of frustration and discontent in this sector. In particular, educational professionals, parents, academics and many other groups have highlighted their concerns with the current system of education. While the list is extensive, some of the major areas of concern include: funding, accountability, high-stakes testing, equity and inclusivity, vocational education, changing systems of collaboration and support, life-readiness and providing a broad and balanced curriculum.
A major aim of this network is to make a difference to education by exploring, creating, sharing and supporting the development of innovations in teaching and learning in formal and informal settings. Developing and sharing alternative approaches and ideas that seek to address these concerns or provide innovative solutions to learning and education is therefore a key focus for us. This includes joining together to address the following questions:
How can we improve the educational experiences of all children, teachers and schools?
How can we create successful futures for children, communities and society?
How can we ensure a greater degree of inclusivity, equity and a whole education approach for all children?
What do we need to change and how?
How can we pull together innovative ideas and practices already taking place and share these with others?
How we work: Task Groups
As education is a broad and extensive area of interest, we aim to support a wide range of specialised task groups. This allows the network to bring together an array of people engaged with educational change, while also working on specific issues and areas of focus.
Each task group focuses on specific provocations to create activity and suggestions for change based around their own particular aims and ambitions. The current list of task groups include:
Life Readiness and Education: How can we shift the increasing focus on exam or work-readiness to one that looks at life-readiness? How can we ensure that all formal and informal learning provides more consciously holistic preparation for the complexities of modern life and the ability to lead fulfilled and resilient lives in the 21st Century? We want to explore how less-measurable - but essential - learning, such as that around self-awareness, negotiation, creativity, empathy and risk-management, can be embedded in all forms of education. The first event for this task group will take place in Brighton on Thursday 22 November 3-6pm. Task Group Lead: Richard Freeman FRSA
Accountability and Assessment in Education: How do our accountability systems affect those being measured and what becomes valued? Can we develop alternative approaches to assessment and accountability within education? Within this group we also wish to raise further questions about our current systems within education in order to find innovative approaches to accountability and assessment in education. This will include reflecting on existing solutions and generating new ideas to achieve an effective and socially responsible approach. Task Group Lead: Andy Hodgkinson
STEM in Primary Education: How can we find better ways of connecting schools and parents with businesses and the local community around the issue of STEM. How can developing more cross-curriculum approaches, additional training and research in this area assist in the development of more effective approaches? Within this area of STEM in primary education, we want to explore different issues, recommend change and support implementation of possible solutions. Task Group Lead: Keiran McGeown
We also plan to expand the number of task groups in order to address many other fascinating areas of interest and innovations within learning and education. Please feel free to email us if you have further suggestions for task groups. For example, there has been a growing interest in developing a new task group around the theme of cultural learning and arts in the curriculum. Please email us if you are interested in being involved in developing this group so we can gauge levels of interest.
Join the network
To make a difference we need your help and the help of those around you. We need individuals who share our ambition for change and are looking forward to creating a new dawn in education. One way you can do this is by joining the different task groups or creating new ones within this network.
The network seeks to bring together a wide range of people who are interested in exploring learning and education from a diverse range of perspectives. Whatever your interest or background please come and join one or more of the task groups or events. We also welcome those who are not RSA Fellows to join the network as well.
While it is wonderful to attract as many experts in the field as possible, please do not be put off because you feel that you do not have the necessary expertise. Contributions and participation can come in many forms and from many different people. We welcome your input and participation, however small or large, as together we can help make a difference to the development of innovative approaches and practices to learning and education.
How to get involved
If you want to work with us to make a change and want to support the network, there are many ways you can get involved:
If you would like to join the network please visit the sign-up page. If you’re already a member, we’ll be in touch shortly to provide details of plans for the new network and confirm how you would like to be involved.
We have an online relaunch event on Wednesday 28 November at 6pm. This will be a Zoom event that will enable Fellows to connect from many different places and engage in a discussion around innovative education. After an initial overview of the network we will organise break out groups so that we can focus on discussion and debate around specific themes.
There will also be a series of face to face events around the UK over the coming year, including our first event in Brighton on Thursday 22 November. Network members will be invited to attend these events and we will also post details on our webpage and inform you of new events through emails. We will also have online Zoom events that will allow network members to join these events from around the world.
Through our task groups, events and other initiatives, the network therefore seeks to make a difference to the lives of many different individuals, organisations and networks connected to the issue of education. This includes capturing and sharing the many wonderful examples of good practice that are already out-there, exploring ways of opening up new spaces to enable good practice to flourish; and/or examining the barriers and concerns that people share in terms of learning and education in practice. Please join us on this journey and we look forward to meeting you and working with you in the future.
Thirteen-year-old J'lyn talks about her mission to get young people talking about mental health in school. She held a student-led Pannel on mental health and wants you to do so too.