JUST A THOUGHT: Educational Leadership in Scotland
The story behind Triarchy's Transformative Innovation in Education has developed a new twist. The pamphlet describes how the Scottish Government's A Curriculum for Excellence (ACfE, five years old next November) stimulated a conversation at the heart of Scottish Education that goes well beyond conventional thinking on educational excellence, and thus beyond the confines of Scottish Education. The policy became seen as a blueprint for a transformation from a school system rooted in the Industrial Revolution of the early 20th century to one better adapted to a radically different 21st century. Using the three horizons framework, the pamphlet clarifies the challenges that all such third horizon innovations face from the first horizon of standards-based incremental reform, which sees it as its duty to bend all new initiatives to fit its current agenda. It was thus not just predictable but inevitable that the innovative impulse behind ACfE would hit resistance from the very institution that commissioned it it: the Scottish Government. This appears to have been happening, and people are beginning to take notice.
Times Educational Supplement Scotland editor Neil Munro wrote a provocative article which describes how Keir Bloomer, a principal architect of ACfE and a co-author of Transformative Innovation in Education, has taken up the challenge of reviving the original intentions of the ACfE. The situation is further clarified (especially for anyone unfamiliar with ACfE) in an editorial endorsing the view that the Government has lost the ACfE plot in failing to encourage front line teachers to take a sufficiently active role in ACfE. Predictably, the Scottish Government stoutly defends their approach to implementing ACfE, as Neil Munro also reports in his article.
It will be interesting to see how or whether these sharp differences in viewpoint translate to coherent action in the classrooms of Scotland. The story is a clear example of what happens when a first horizon institution is in charge of changes that belong to the third horizon: they will not take place without a struggle and they will not happen swiftly, if they take place at all.
There is lots more interesting writing on this topic to be found on the TES website such as an article on taking inspiration from the ACfE in the classroom. See Jaquetta's blog for a lively view of the story. The Scotsman and the Times Online have also covered it (though Keir Bloomer is somewhat misquoted by the Times). And our pamphlet gives a fuller explanation of how the three horizons framework and other conceptual tools can be applied to implementing transformational change in education, as the ACfE originally set out to do.