Blinks: High quality reviews and training
Blinks: High quality reviews and training
Blinks: High quality reviews and training
High quality reviews and training
High quality reviews and training

Guest Column - May 2023
Jack George

Inter-school collaboration has never been more important

There are a lot of things at Aiglon College, Switzerland, about which we can be proud, but one aspect stands out for me - it is our scholarship programme.

We are in the fortunate position of being able to offer a growing number of full scholarships, for up to three years, to students in partner schools in developing countries across the world. Our scholars go on to top universities and have the opportunity to benefit from what we are proud to call 'world leading character education' which truly develops the mind, body, and spirit.

My role as Assistant Head recently allowed me the privilege to travel to Starehe Girls’ and Boys’ Schools in Nairobi, Kenya. The idea was to interview potential scholars and, at the same time, discuss how the money we raise for the schools is allocated to improve education for current and future Stareheans.

As an educator I believe that we are on the brink of a revolution bigger than the birth of the internet, in the form of block-chain and AI. At Aiglon we are building the conceptual and physical foundations within which this can flourish. As well as a physical innovation centre, we are currently trialling holistic, Instagram-style reporting, non-fungible token awards and credentials, AI personal tutors for homework, and even Eduwallets so students can be true authors and therefore owners of their educational narratives.

We call this 'School 3.0' and want to share this framework in an open-source model with all who wish to embrace it.

During my meetings in Nairobi I got to know staff well. Their passion for teaching and learning was inspiring and we talked about the future of education late into the night over Kenyan wine and coffee. When discussing our conceptual framework for the future my counterparts were excited, at times sceptical but always open to ideas.

They spoke of getting up at 4am to run catch-up classes for groups of fifty students as a result of fallout after COVID, and that AI could help to ease their load. Naturally, we then moved onto the role of the teacher when knowledge transfer and, to some extent, ownership of educational journeys is handed over to the student and AI. We both agreed that the role of a teacher will move towards facilitation of learning - celebrating soft skills and the human side of teaching and learning will become ever more important.

I was informed by the Starehean students themselves that they pride themselves on their oracy skills, their ability to work independently during self-directed learning time, which occurs as well as homework, and their autonomy when running student-led activities.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, these are the exact areas that the Academic Leadership Group at Aiglon has identified as priorities for future improvement for our students. When asked about why Starehe is so successful at these traits, their primary response was that the school's values make it so. We at Aiglon must learn from their staff in order to achieve our priorities.

In essence, we are financial supporters of Starehe schools but in terms of all other involvement we are collaborators through a shared passion for progress in the never perfect craft of education. Networks such as Round Square facilitate this collaboration through a values-based approach, and we as educators should harness these channels to build the educational infrastructure of the future.

I would encourage all schools to collaborate with others beyond their regular networks, regardless of available resources, and to move towards an open source model in which all initiatives are shared with a view to improve teaching and learning for all.

As AI and block-chain begin to change our world, we must lay common foundations throughout the sector and allow healthy competition through the human qualities that we refine and celebrate. We must actively establish positive relationships with the best edtech companies so as to redesign the sector together.

In essence, we are at a beautiful point in the history of education where technology can help us rebuild digital, social and even societal foundations. Let's ensure that the structures we create democratise learning for all young people, empower students to control their own narrative, and holistically celebrate the incredible humans that they are.

Jack George is Assistant Head, Aiglon College, Switzerland

Inter-school collaboration has never been more important (May 2023)

Guest Column - March/ April 2023
Alison Rendle & Kit Messenger
'Curious Not Furious'
Nobody rises to low expectations.
Once the first foundation stone of strong, positive relationships is firmly in place, we need to take a look at the second of those three foundation stones: working with young people to set clear, consistent and high expectations. You may have heard the saying that nobody rises to low expectations. That's why we firmly believe that expectations should be set high for all young people. High expectations set the aspiration that young people and all those around them are able to be safe, content and at their best.
'Curious Not Furious' (March/ April 2023)

Guest Column - February/ March 2023
Carole Herman
Mathematics for all?
When Rishi Sunak announced in his first speech of 2023 that all students should continue to learn mathematics to the age of 18, I am sure I wasn't the only educationalist to be somewhat surprised. When had this major policy announcement been discussed with the profession?
Mathematics for all? (February/ March 2023)

Guest Column - January 2023
Malcolm Wheeler
Open your classroom window
Marsha Ivins, a veteran of five space shuttle missions who logged over 1,300 hours in space, was asked by one of our students, 'So how do you go to toilet in space?' Her smile told me it was a question she had often fielded. Her answer, although given hundreds of times by her, was original for every child asking the question for the first time.
Open your classroom window (January 2023)

Guest Column - December 2022
Tim Coulson
If I were Education Secretary
If I were education secretary, I would expect to reverse the current position, and to be seen as more influential than Ofsted.
If I were Education Secretary (December 2022)

Guest Column - September/October 2022
Simon Watson
Aim High, Work Smart, Care Deeply
International schools are free to choose from the best educational initiatives around the world, unshackled from the administrative handcuffs of national and state regulations.
Aim High, Work Smart, Care Deeply (September/October 2022)

Guest Column - July/August 2022
Jane Harris
2030 vision: we need to talk about speech and language
Given the unusual way the schools white paper and SEND green paper were published on consecutive days in late March, it is understandable that the sector is still trying to make sense of them.
2030 vision: we need to talk about speech and language (July/August 2022)

Guest Column - April/May 2022
Andy Samways
10 reasons why reading aloud matters
The simplest sentences are often the most impactful. That was certainly the case in Roy Blatchford's monthly column in March:
"If you read no further than the end of this sentence, please watch the YouTube video Frank Cottrell-Boyce supporting the Essex Year of Reading - Essex County Council."
10 reasons why reading aloud matters (April/May 2022)

Guest Column - February 2022
Tom Duckling
Learning Strands
It is the start of term and for INSET day an engaging and inspirational speaker has been booked. It is a financial investment but they have a great reputation on the conference circuit and some glittering reviews.
Learning Strands (February 2022)

Guest Column - January 2022
Samantha Smith
Lead as yourself
When I was starting as a headteacher, I was given the advice, Remember to lead as you.
This is a most valuable piece of advice and one I often return to. And it has never been more important than in the past two years, when we have all been asked to give more than we ever thought we would.
Lead as yourself (January 2022)

Guest Column - December 2021
Jean Gross
Reaching The Unseen Children
This is an extract from Chapter Seven of Jean Gross's recently published 'Reaching The Unseen Children'
The seven secrets of self-efficacy
This is the most important chapter in this book. It is important because it introduces a concept which is relatively unfamiliar to educators, but profoundly important in improving outcomes for disadvantaged children.
Reaching The Unseen Children (December 2021)

Guest Column - November 2021
David Bartram OBE
Leading great SEND provision in schools
We appear to be making the leadership of SEND increasingly complicated. The danger of creating this overly complex approach is that it persuades teachers across the country that they may not be sufficiently expert enough to help children experiencing difficulty.
Leading great SEND provision in schools (November 2021)

Guest Column - October 2021
Cameron Mirza
The learning scientist
The critical success factor in the education system will always be the teacher. It is essential today that teachers are supported to develop the skills, subject knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, pedagogical content knowledge and digital skills required to thrive in the classroom environment. The recently published teaching report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Microsoft, laid stark some sobering data.
The learning scientist (October 2021)

Guest Column - September 2021
Harry Hudson
At the cutting edge
Teaching is moving at a pace, and there has never been a more exciting time to become a teacher. We know more now than we have ever known about how the brain works, and teachers can be more confident than at any time in history about the science of learning. What's more, there is still so much left to discover.
At the cutting edge (September 2021)

Guest Column - June 2021
By Old Cobbler
Great news! Primary languages are rubbish!
Ofsted blog: schools, early years, further education and skills
As the subject lead's blog on the Ofsted website explains, inspectors recently visited 24 primary schools, all rated excellent at their latest inspection, to assess the quality of their languages teaching.
Great news! Primary languages are rubbish! (June 2021)

Guest Column - May 2021
Dr Michael Lightfoot
Rethinking assessment: in praise of ePortfolios
The long-term impact on education systems caused by the Great Pandemic of 2020/21 will take many years to play out. Emergency remote teaching became the mode through which education systems tried to overcome the impacts of school closures, and most schools turned to EdTech for solutions.
Rethinking assessment: in praise of ePortfolios (May 2021)

Guest Column - April 2021
David Ingram
Shaping the legacy of COVID-19
During a particularly difficult stretch of the lockdown, my professional coach invited me to engage my curiosity. This prompted me to consider the enormity of the pandemic from an entirely different perspective. I remain curious. Necessity may have been the mother of invention during lockdown but as the world returns to a semblance of normality, school leaders will need to ponder next steps.
Shaping the legacy of COVID-19 (April 2021)

Guest Column - March 2021
Harry Hudson
Changing the image of teaching
Education is in the spotlight in a way it hasn't been for decades, and much has been said about how teaching can 'build back better' after the pandemic. Yet step back from all the talk of 'catch up funding' and ways our classroom practice can be improved by having taught online, and there's an even bigger picture.
Changing the image of teaching (March 2021)

Guest Column - February 2021
Marc Rowland
The most effective strategies give teachers and other staff the capacity, expertise, knowledge and development to meet the needs of their pupils and improve them as learners. Teacher agency and buy-in are fundamental to success. They all complement one another, working together to support the development of a culture of inclusivity where pupils' needs are understood and assessment drives action.
Culture (February 2021)

Guest Column - January 2021
Malcolm Wheeler
Online passages from India
The pandemic will be remembered in the words of Dickens as "the worst of times" and, in the most unintended ways, also "the best of times". Before the lockdown, the challenge for our kind of schools was finding the sweet spot between theoretical and experiential learning. After the move to virtual learning, it has become about finding our collective 'ikigai', or finding our reason for being.
Online passages from India (January 2021)

Guest Column – December 2020
Keith Grainger, Principal, Garth Hill College
The case for the defence: online learning
In a week when the government has threatened councils with legal action over decisions to switch to online learning over coronavirus fears, I feel the urge to celebrate the considerable merits of online learning. Such threats almost cast a slur on the very concept of online learning and, given our positive experience as a state secondary school, I am compelled to make a case for the defence.
The case for the defence: online learning (December 2020)     © Blinks 2023

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