Seizing the Agenda – musings from Whole Education conference 2015

Guest post by @LisaWorgan, Director of Curriculum Innovation

After two days of reflecting on the future of education for our young people, I sat on a packed train waiting to leave London Paddington. As the clock ticked past the departure time, my thoughts were with Sir Tim Brighouse’s call to action: we must find the ‘gaps in the hedges’ in education. We must innovate, to test things out in adverse circumstances.

And as I reflected on how we are doing this at Victoria Academies Trust, the announcement came over the tannoy that the train I was sat on was cancelled and we must all get off. A metaphor, if I do say so myself, for how education policy can be the biggest stifler of the innovative spirit in our schools where we are putting our young people first.

Having recently joined the team at Victoria Academies Trust, I do feel that I now am able to really create opportunities that start as an idea and become an innovation. And the beauty of being part of an academy means that we truly can put our children and their futures first.

Take our work on social enterprise; exactly what I had been asked to share at the Whole Education conference, as part of the workshop on ‘Unleashing the Curriculum Designer in us all’. Our approach to developing social enterprise skills in the curriculum, running our own social enterprise (Ballot Street Spice) and weaving these two aspects together through our new mini challenges in our wider NICER curriculum are very unique aspects in a school – especially a primary school.

Could this be a gap in the hedge? I certainly think so! Perhaps more of our education for children should help develop these skills so as to help prepare our children for their futures and tomorrow’s world, whatever this may hold. Friday of the conference saw a room full of people discussing and believing in exactly this, so there is definitely a body of thinking that has a power in schools to see more of this work happening.

And so although I had to repack all my items, get off the train, change platforms, wait for another train, and arrive home much later than I had planned, I left feeling that any challenge that we come across isn’t going to derail our journey as innovators. Yes, there is adversity and challenge and barriers that feel like they get in the way. But actually overcoming these challenges often produces the kind of results that are right for both us and our learners – for the futures that we all face together. To harp back to Sir Tim once again; we may be moving into a fourth age in education. A time for innovations and partnerships. And that is what I plan for my work within the Trust to hold at the forefront.

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