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According to Dow Chemicals there is now a word called solutionism. Not only that, but solutionism is the new optimism. I’m filing solutionism with Innovalue (Taiwanese for excellence), as proof that it’s not only the public sector that creates irritating non-words.

Since June’s launch of the Suffolk Raising the Bar Inquiry, we’ve spent time talking to headteachers, employers and others in Suffolk, and absorbing as much information and data as possible. In partnership with the council, we have decided to take a different approach to this Inquiry. Rather than the standard evidence-hearing-report-writing-recommendation-making model, we are trying something faster and more action-focussed – working with people in Suffolk to design and, where possible, implement solutions. The main reason is that the Inquiry launch has already in itself created a momentum across the county that we believe can best be harnessed by inviting people to co-construct solutions - to contribute rather than consult, act rather than argue. Through the Call for Ideas, and other activities (including a 6.10 am appearance on BBC radio Suffolk yesterday), we are mobilising as many people as possible, and hope that Fellows can also participate.

As well as the Call for Ideas, we are also facilitating a small number of ‘suffolk solutions groups’. These groups will be charged with developing practical answers to key issues. The groups that  have emerged organically through our conversations include the following:

  • A Learning Partnership Solutions Group will explore whether new models of partnership between the local authority, schools and other partners might be better suited to building Suffolk’s collaborative capacity, and fostering sustainable leadership.
  • A Teacher Quality Solution group  will look at teacher training, recruitment, retention in the county.
  • A Curriculum Design Solutions Group will take a more immediate, practical approach to fostering  collaboration.
  • An Education/Employers Solutions Group will build a framework so that all young people in Suffolk can develop their employability skills through participating in high quality work-related learning opportunities.
  • A Modern/Mid Baccalaureate Solutions Group will ensure that Suffolk becomes part of the national pilot for assessing and recognising young people’s knowledge, skills and other attributes.
  • A Mentoring Solutions Group will aim to develop a coherent, targeted approach to mentoring across the whole county and all age groups.
  • A Governors Solutions Group will explore how governors can become both better at fulfilling their existing role, and being at the heart of developing a pro-learning culture in their communities.
  • Each Solutions group responds to the current direction of travel of national policy changes, although some challenge assumptions upon which policy has been made. None of the solutions will be reliant on a change of national policy, legislation or regulation. We see each group as being engaged in a design process: for some this may be the design of a pilot to test ideas; for others it might be the design of a new service. Through these processes, we hope to establish a collaborative way of working that can be used to solve other issues across the county when the Inquiry finishes. If you are interested in participating in any of the groups, please get in touch through the Call for Ideas – you have until 2 November to help Suffolk get innovalue through solutionism.


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