Creative Public Leadership: How School System Leaders Can Create The Conditions For System-Wide Innovation

Creative Public Leadership: How School System Leaders Can Create The Conditions For System-Wide Innovation Image source: RSA

The RSA just launched a new report entitled Creative Public Leadership – How School System Leaders Can Create The Conditions For System-Wide Innovation. The report was produced in partnership with the Innovation Unit and the support of RSA partners’s WISE ( World Innovation Summit for Education). The scope of the report is to explores how school systems can create the conditions for successful innovation that transform outcomes for all learners. It was written by Joe Hallgarten, Valerie Hannon and Tom Beresford.

The report argues that if one wants to improve performance overall, ensure equity, and develop a wider set of outcomes, then serious, disciplined and radical innovation is required at all levels. The researchers acknowledge the role of government as being crucial, but focus on the need to draw on resources from both within and beyond traditional public institutions.

The report proposes a new concept of Creative Public Leadership. In essence this positions the state as an authorising, facilitative and supportive platform for systemic innovation. To test their emergent thinking, they outline nine first steps to re-orient the role public system leaders might play.

  1. Build the case for change
  2. Desist from waves of centrally-driven short-term reforms
  3. Develop outward as well as upward accountability, to learners and localities
  4. Create and protect genuine space for local curriculum designs
  5. Prioritize innovations that transform approaches to assessing students
  6. Place intentional, rigorous focus on the development of teachers’ innovation capabilities, throughout their careers
  7. Redirect some proportion of a jurisdiction’s education spending to an explicit incubator program, tasked with radically innovating on behalf of the system as a whole
  8. Build systems of collaborative peer learning to support the adaptive scaling of innovation
  9. Put system entrepreneurship at the heart of system leadership

These first steps are suggestions for “those frustrated with the rate of change, but who feel locked into a resilient ‘system’ seemingly impermeable to shift. Each one of them can be instanced by exemplars across the globe – few in numbers but increasingly influential.”

According to the authors, WISE, a initiative from the Qatar Foundation, that is promoting innovation and the future of education, creates the space for debate about the viability of their proposals, by paying attention to what resonates, what has been omitted, and how momentum can be built.

WISE is a global platform for the development of new ideas and solutions about how to innovate our education. Since 2009, WISE has evolved into a thriving global, multi-sectoral community, which generates fruitful dialogue and productive partnerships. The WISE community is a network of education stakeholders – from students to decision-makers – from about 200 countries who share ideas and collaborate to seek creative solutions to solve challenges facing education. Some of the initiatives of Wise are Wise’s Summit, Wise accelerator and Wise prizes.

Ultimately, the report thinks that a movement for radical innovation in publicly-funded education is overdue, and there is the need of a road map. This report offers a sketch of a road map.