Innovative Education Network: Visions and Hopes for 2019 - RSA

Innovative Education Network: Visions and Hopes for 2019

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  • Picture of Chris Mclean
    Chris Mclean
    Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester
  • Education
  • Fellowship

For numerous years Babylonians, Romans and many others have followed the tradition of making promises or setting goals at the start of each New Year. This year millions of people will be making their New Year resolutions to change and improve something in their own lives. Following the successful relaunch of RSA’s Innovative Education Network, we hope to extend this idea by drawing together examples of the changes, opportunities or potential improvements within education and learning that you would like to see this year.

The blog seeks to explore this in the following three ways:

  1. What specific visions or resolutions for change do we think could make a difference to learning and education in the future?

  2. What would you like to see as New Year Resolutions for 2019 in education and learning? What visions or improvements would you like to see introduced?

  3. What will the task groups within the network be focusing on this year in terms of visions of change, provocations and resolutions? 

During this year many people and groups will be thinking about how to provide inclusive and rich learning experiences for all? For the OECD this includes a new vision for education and learning that considers the complexity of our future lives:

“To prepare for 2030, people should be able to think creatively […] increasingly, innovation springs not from individuals thinking and working alone, but through cooperation and collaboration with others to draw on existing knowledge to create new knowledge. The constructs that underpin the competency include adaptability, creativity, curiosity and open-mindedness.

This requires us to reflect on outcomes that match our vision for the future of society and our view of learners and learning within society. Approaches to education that go beyond merely preparing the young for the world of work, but also ensure everyone can experience productive and successful futures and are equipped with the knowledge and skills to become active, responsible and engaged citizens.

 21st Century Learning: Three visions and resolutions

 How could the three visions below provide a difference within the area of learning and education?

 Rethinking Competencies: How could a focus on transformative competencies help to improve and reframe education and learning? Perhaps a more effective foundation for thinking about the complex links between learning, knowledge, skills and education could be achieved through an approach to rethinking competency. An approach that acknowledges the value of certain disciplinary knowledge, while also going beyond a more restricted view of merely acquiring knowledge and skills. How could such an approach also support the development of inquiring, creative and ethically responsible learners and citizens of the future?  

Thriving through Thinking and Co-Agency: Can we support learners to develop as co-agents of change who can acknowledge competing demands through different forms of cognitive thinking? By developing the ability to draw on analytical and critical thinking and working with others collaboratively, this would allow greater reflection on competing demands, the impact of certain actions, issues of responsibility for ourselves and others, and the ability to evaluate the consequences of different possibilities and future pathways.

Quality and Equality: How can we ensure that all learners are provided with good quality and inclusive educational experiences? Although high on the agenda for any vision of learning this involves developing greater clarity around the following questions: What are we seeking to measure in terms of quality? How should we make such an evaluation? How do we ensure all learners are included within this vision? This also requires care to be taken in the extent we standardise education. While we may wish to ensure a good quality experience for all, we  do not want to limit this by standardising the life out of learning and making those involved feel suffocated or excluded from such experiences. While maintaining high quality experiences and achieving certain standards may be important, we also need to accept and support difference and diversity in learning. This is certainly not to say ‘anything goes’. While learning requires spaces for innovation and creativity, this is not at the cost of good quality, high value and rich pedagogical experiences.

What are Your New Year Resolutions and Visions?

Key to this network is finding out your ideas and visions for the future. By the end of the month, please could you send in your thoughts and visions around changing education and learning, so we can expand this blog to include your contributions. Please email us with your thoughts before January 30th. This could be something small and simple, or larger and more extensive. We leave the choice to you. When you email us, please also let us know if you’d like us to keep your contribution anonymous or include your name.

So what would be your New Year resolutions and visions for the 2019? What could make a difference for a child you know, the teachers and educationalists within society, a local school or community, or the wider educational sector? By bringing together your different visions and ideas we can begin to make a difference and promote change collectively.

Making Visions a Reality and Getting Involved

The RSA’s Innovative Education Network held its official relaunch event in November. We have over 900 members and three initial task groups within the network.  Everyone is welcome to join whether you are working in education or passionate about the issue.

It’s an exciting time to join the network and contribute to shaping our plans for action. There will be task group meetings in late January and early February (see below for dates and sign-up information).

In order to turn our visions into reality, our aim is to create as many opportunities as possible for you to be involved in the network and participate in a variety of ways. So if you’d like to get involved please do sign up to the network (if you haven’t already done so), and join the relevant task group(s).

Accountability and Assessment

Life Readiness

STEAM in Education


Donaldson, G. (2015) Successful Futures: Independent Review of Curriculum and Assessment Arrangements in Wales, Welsh Government. Online, available at: [Date accessed, 9th January 2019].

OECD (2018) The Future of Education and Skills: Education 2030, OECD. Online, available at: [Date accessed, 9th January 2019].

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  • Is it possible to envisage a slightly earlier change?  Perhaps a smaller 'state school system' and a larger 'informal/non-formal' system? One may imagine the graphics, the discussion of what-is-what and the whom-does-what, but we really have plenty of evidence, and increasingly so, that other systems work rather well and in some cases better.

    One great and emerging source is the EEF. A single page of their research suggests some poor routes are still within our systems. Whether blind confidence or cultural changes, taking account of non-school opportunities could be the correct route for some of 2019.


    I am happy to work with others on the alternative to in-classroom learning group.

  • We need to move to a more cohesive state school system. The pro and anti academy debate is old hat and serves no purpose. Government research has shown the quality of teaching has the greatest effect on outcomes, not the type of school.

    We should move to the same accountability and support for all schools. Children are all equally valuable to us as a society. 

    The section on "Quality and Equality" has to include governance which has a measurable effect on school outcomes.

    • Look at the Slovenian SLOfit programme That is an excellent model of data collection and joint responsibility between doctors, PE teachers and parents to ensure the physical fitness of all children. Then also go on and look at Slovenia's data on obesity and on educational outcomes - they look good! Look at how they have used the SLOfit data to inform research and policy. They are not wasting time on politics and chair shuffling they are focusing on fundamentals. If we focused on fundamentals all the garbage and the background noise falls apart - it is obvious that we barely understand how children learn in the UK and that too much is driven by short-term political game playing.  

  • Until we understand how children need to develop in order to be efficient learners nothing fundamental is going to change. This is not an SEN issue it is about all of our children. We at Fit 2 Learn CIC screened 400+ children 8 years and over last summer with our MP Sarah Jones observing the last 60 - we could show that poor motor skills development went on to restrict cognitive development in many other areas. Children have a very distinct chain of physical development in motor skills, sound processing and visual processing which all comes together around 7 or 8 years of age in motor sensory integration - we have to support and respect that process to empower all our citizens to become calm, efficient learners. Without the fundamental foundations in place we are building our education system on sand and leaving too many young people behind with low skills and anxiety.