Friday, August 14, 2015

Personalising learning spins our wheels

I love this  You Tube clip which is the work of  Sandy Hooda and the team of Vega School, Delhi. – It articulates their  personalised learning values and vision very well. I am sure that a lot of people will find it very useful to promote discussion and thinking about ways to enact their schools vision for personalising learning. It also gives a bit more detail on the Global Schools Alliance. Freemans Bay School is a recent member to this alliance and as you can see the GSA has some real visionary educationists in their  organisation. I am really looking forward to meeting and having some rich dialogue with them in October in Delhi at the new Vega School that is in this Your Tube clip.

Our New Zealand  Ministry of Education is promoting  their property policy now called Innovative Learning Environments.  Its a useful link, also thought provoking for anyone who is embarking on school design. I like the notion that values and vision around education is becoming part of the picture painted by our policy makers. However the development of the schools learning vision and  plan to transition towards the vision also needs strong leadership, resourcing and support. 

The educational and political context is a little different in NZ than the countries and schools that Sandy Hooda includes on the above Veda School video clip. We don’t have SATS like they do in UK. Schools in New Zealand are self-managing and develop their own curriculum. Freemans Bay School has no schemes or exams. Many schools in New Zealand have no schemes – but if they are into that and it spins their wheels – they have them. As a school leader I always get rid of them – I have been burning school schemes since the 1980s! We also have no text books  to damage learners spines as they are carried backwards and forwards to schools in backpacks.

Our secondary assessment system,  NCEA, is flexible and personalised for the learner. Our teaching and learning can be more project based and integrated as we don’t have the pressure of national exams from an early age. Its all about differentiation, visible learning and personalisation.  There are a lot of schools into a more project or inquiry  based curriculum  now in NZ. Schools such as Albany Senior and Hobsonville Point are leading the way in this area. There are now more secondary schools with a project based lens on their curriculum in New Zealand, than there were 10 years ago.

I think it is heartening  that our Government is giving stronger leadership around school design to the education sector. Note that the learning zones do not include subject based classrooms, instead they have learning zones or  hubs where personalised learning takes place with specialist areas provided for subjects that need these spaces.  Many school leaders are  trying to influence the Government to resource schools to articulate and develop their learning vision – and resource schools to develop strategic plans to achieve this.

I think the Ministry of Education property pages on their website is a great start to assist schools with their journeys towards a more personalised and innovative curriculum – they promote lead schools with  great practice to others in New Zealand and linking it to education values, culture, collaboration and making culture. 

Innovative Learning Environments is our Ministry of Educations policy. So if you are building a new school or remodelling – it has to be a ILE by design. The next steps would be  to resource the change management needed, otherwise bookshelves will be used to make walls and separated classroom spaces and teachers will do what they have always done and they will get what they have always got.

A Innovative Learning  review tool was posted on CORE Education site recently. This is a good place to start for school leaders to review where they are at and where they are heading. However we would get greater traction to a modern national curriculum if the Ministry resourced the education vision development as part of the project.

Finally as a foot note, we made the cover story of our Education Gazette

Our students wanted a safe place to ride their bikes in the city and here they are enjoying our new facility.

They helped to design the track and now are working out how it can be used during the day.

Involving students to make decisions about their learning environment really spins our wheels at Freeman Bay School.