School Reborn 2020: Part 3

We’ve planted some seeds and are now seeing some serious shoots growing.
This is the 3rd post in my series documenting my high school’s two-year project to make the significant shift from subject silos to an integrated learning programme.  The sewing of those ‘seeds’ are covered in Part One and Part Two. In this post, I’ll take you through some of the student and staff driven ‘shoots’ that are now appearing.

Aligning our Vision with that of the nation.

One session we ran this month was a full school meeting where staff sat in subject departments to discuss the elements of this change and then feedback as a subject department. The vision was quite simple in that the National Curriculum asks schools to review their curriculum in how much it aligns with the intent of the National Curriculum. Here are the slides and they had prompting questions and summary documents from ministry and curriculum to help them.

Change is easier when it’s visible

Any change is difficult and making everyone comfortable with change is to some extent impossible. But once you start the process and encourage all voices as they engage, ideas start to form and the visibility of those ideas shifts people’s thinking. So lets look at examples of the mind-shifts already happening within this revolution:

Supporting teachers can happen naturally
The most common questions from busy teachers who feel their first priority is preparing for and surviving the day can include:

  • What will this look like?
  • Will I have the time to prepare?
  • What will I be doing?
  • How will we grade kids?
  • What resources will I be using?

Our primary target during this “rebirth” is that everyone knows they have multiple channels in different formats to get involved. This involves creating a number of networks where debate, ideas and concerns can be shared and built on.

Networks we have created:

  • a thinking room “Sharing Shed” in the school to post real documents and examples,
  • a digital online equivalent,
  • student surveys and
  • interviews to ensure their thoughts are clear.
  • Parent surveys containing a full video outline of what’s being considered, and staff workshops and committees.

Amongst all this, the teachers most keen on integration are putting ideas on the table which others are picking up on. Volunteers are coming forward to produce resources and trial examples with classes during the next 18 months before we relaunch. Concerns are being answered or followed up on and there are a number of examples where staff have started against the idea and now with visible debate and examples are starting to agree the change might be a good idea.

Ideas are born in connections

Ideas and connections made in just the first 6 months of our two-year journey include: timetable redesign ideas from staff and students; how to fit mentoring into the existing timetable until we change it; how we can develop project-based learning within the existing structures to prepare material for 2020. Teachers have made their own links with other integrated and project-based schools (without being asked to). Students are now choosing to email school leaders with ideas they have. There is a daily growth in the number of staff who have added input to the conversations. A momentum is growing and I believe that by 2019, most staff will have chosen to be involved in initiatives with some group or network and we might achieve the target to have the whole community own the development of this rebirth.

Next step: consolidation of feedback and focusing of scope

Over the next two months we will be consolidating all the community feedback and start to draft a number of elements that are definite, optional, and not desirable to focus further discussion and ideation. We will start to consider how to combine the various suggestions for 2019 trials within existing structures and maybe some definite elements that will shape learning at the school in 2020.

Part 4 coming soon.