Tag Archives: Education

The Opening Minds Conference 2008: letting schools provide the answers

The annual Opening Minds Conference was held at the RSA yesterday. Yet again the event was a sell out, and most of the team spent a lot of time standing or sitting on the floor to listen to the presentations.

Despite the warm day in the packed Great Room, delegates listened and responded to a range of speakers including Michael Gernon, principal of the RSA Academy, Mick Waters, Director of Curriculum at QCA and Paul Hammond, Deputy Head at Oasis Academy.

The conference was themed around assessment and brought together some different perspectives on what is always described as a ‘thorny issue’. How do you assess the Opening Minds competencies and demonstrate progression? How do you measure progress in creativity or relationship skills? What are the links with the QCA’s Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills?

True to the nature of Opening Minds itself, the conference did not try and dictate the answers to these questions to delegates, but provided a starting point by sharing what some schools were trying out for themselves.

This sort of issue is where the new RSA online platform for schools using Opening Minds (due to launch this year) will be useful. It will provide a space into which schools can upload their ideas and their practice around assessment or any other issues and share them with other schools.

We think that it is unlikely that any one person or organisation will come up with the answers to some of the really difficult questions in education and what is right for one school or one community is rarely right for them all. We think Opening Minds represents the RSA at its best, helping inspiring practitioners to share ideas and collaborate with one another to find their own answers.


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Filed under Future Schools Network, Opening Minds, RSA National Education Campaign, Uncategorized

Education Events at RSA

Happy new year, everyone!

Rather than fret about an apparently widening gap between the results of rich and poor students, or the confusion regarding diplomas, I thought I’d strike a lighter note and plug the RSA’s excellent lectures programme. 

January will see some really interesting lectures on education you might be particularly interested in.

Next week John Denham MP, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills will be arguing that there is a ‘destructive divide’ between those who have a good grasp of science, and those who do not, and what needs to be done to bridge the gap. This event will take place at the RSA next week on 16 January at 5pm.

Then, on January 30th, in the first of a series of lectures in association with Edge, Michael Young, Professor of Education, Lifelong Learning and International Development at the Institute of Education will tackle the question ‘What are schools for?’. In particular he will think about schools’ ability to ‘Develop the Potential of Every Pupil’, which is the crosscutting theme for the 5 lectures in the series.

As usual, both events are free and open to you to book your place, or you can stream the audio live to your computer.

These events build on a good 2007 for education lectures at the RSA. Notably we had the Paul Hamlyn Foundation sponsored series ‘Outside In: Rethinking Schooling’. You can download the audio from these lectures in mp3 format here, here, and here.

2008 promises to be a challenging year for the RSA team in regards to education. As well as delivering a great lecture programme, we will be launching the Future Schools Network, and seeking to grow the online community of schools interested in Opening Minds with an improved website and resources.

Ultimately my hope is that this year the RSA will work more closely with you than ever, and respond better to your needs.

To do that, we need to hear from you! I asked in the last post about changing the web site, and what people’s views were on that? Please do comment on that issue, and any of the other work mentioned above, and let us know your thoughts.

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Welcome to the RSA Education Blog

Welcome to the RSA Education Team’s new blog. Let me try to explain why I hope it will be useful.

The point of this blog is to have a more regular conversation about what is on our minds with regards ideas and practice. We don’t want to meet you and then be out of touch for months at a time. This blog will keep you posted with what we are thinking about, how our work is developing, and enable you to share your thoughts and opinions. It’s only a first step down a road that I hope means we can we can shape each other’s work as we go.  

Most think tanks worry about being at the cutting edge of thinking, and about shaping government policy. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. The RSA is a bit different – for a start I’m not really sure I’d call us a think tank, though some people do.  Anyway, while we too worry about being at the cutting edge of thinking, we are preoccupied with the direct connection between ideas and action. That is something that defines our Education programme, and increasingly all of the RSA’s work. So alongside engaging with theory, we worry about classrooms.

The people that influence students’ experience of education most are teachers, school leaders, parents and students themselves. Some of the schools that have used Opening Minds (over 150 and counting!) are proof of that. They have taken that core idea, and reshaped the aims, content, and process of learning in their schools pretty dramatically. It is perhaps surprising how little policy has got in the way (and some credit for that must go to the people shaping it every day).

An important theme for the blog over the coming months will be the RSA Future Schools Network. We will be regularly covering our progress towards getting the Network up and running, the ideas that Network members will be thinking about, and some of the practical details. We want to keep people in touch, and help you shape it as we go.

My next blog post will go into a bit more detail about this new phase in RSA Education’s workWhat do you think? Is there anything else you would like the blog to cover?


Filed under Future Schools Network, Opening Minds, Uncategorized