Future of education

It started with injustice and unfairness. On too many levels.

The pandemic, and arguably the response, have been disorganised at best, chaotic at times.

It has shone a light on the commitment and endurance of many public servants and key workers who have delivered herculean levels of change in a short, unsupported time. This has been fragmented and has meant that there is a disparity in opportunity and quality of teaching for children in UK schools more than ever.

To illustrate, private schools were able to shift incredibly quickly to a fully digital model of delivery with synchronous teaching - maintaining a sense of stability and support for children and families. Other schools were only able to replicate learning by sending home textbooks and occasional email support and for many families without access to equipment, even this most basic level of support didn't help.

At the same time, businesses were calling for greater public investment in skills development to help prepare employees and industries for successive waves of automation. Even though the threats of job losses are well documented in policy papers or thought leadership article there hasn't been enough shift in thinking among strategic leaders to understand and fully respond to technology.

The pandemic sent a shockwave across the globe. For some, it was an opportunity to accelerate change at an unprecedented pace - a time machine in terms of tech adoption. For too many others, the changes brought forward closure.

As an emerging freelancer I was fascinated at the dichotomy and wanted to urge more strategic leaders to understand that the future is rapidly changing. I prepared a presentation which I've delivered regionally and nationally around future shaping and building out scenarios through worldbuilding and was struck by how receptive individuals were to the story telling approach. This wasn't a full immersion of full facilitated strategy development session but leaders were quick to understand the concepts and more importantly had a strong emotional reaction - they loved the ideas, they hated the ideas, they wanted to adopt some elements and avoid others. In decades of leaders partnerships at a city level and beyond I have never seen this level of engagement.

Click below to see a copy of the presentation, and the dissonant story of Sam, aged 7!

Experience in health tech adoption

With over 20 years of leadership and management experiences within the public sector I've got a good understanding of culture and behaviours of individuals aggregated to a community, city and national level.

Most recently, within healthcare provision I'd developed a highly successful and progress provider which sought to develop partnerships with health tech companies, including creating a social movement to encourage more regional engagement between tech innovators and clinicians.

I am still inspired by the imagination, tenacity and ambition of tech founders and worked hard to give insights and connections into the healthcare system in order to help develop solutions that met real problems. I am an established public speaker and thought leader in this area having been involved in Europe-wide conferences, policy advisory meetings with the UK and Irish government and to established bodies such as the Kings Fund and Nuffield Trust. My content has focused around innovation and problem solving - endorsing a multi-disciplinary, multi-partner and collaborative approach to bigger issues.

More detail is available through my linkedin account: www.linkedin.com/in/claireoatway

Fundamentally there were two main issues that I'd seen at play. First was the entrenched attitudes towards innovation - typically across the innovation curve which meant that new ideas were regularly coming through but unable to scale because of an insufficient mass of early adopters - exacerbated by scarcity of funding, time and expertise in order to push forward. Second was that external funding and enthusiasm from founders meant that there was little in-depth understanding of the issues - this was played out by a stream of bright people who felt they were offering the solution of my dreams without really understanding the complexity.

How does this apply to schools?

In the research carried out to prepare for the future shaping presentation I'd found that the ed tech market is significantly under-developed compared with health tech. I'd also found that there was less readiness and acceptance within schools.

My research found that many schools leaders openly rejected technology and were defensive in the conversation around AI. Also, leaders - both in terms of adminstration and teaching were under-developed in terms of strategic management. This meant that they were less likely to have a future orientation or curiosity around future developments and also less likely to have developed a place of pyschological safety for innnovation for staff including feedback mechanisms.

As part of that preparation, I co-operated with an established management consultant - Matthew Payne (www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-payne-91400b7/) who had been working in this field at a national level and with pilot academy trusts with a view to increase innovation and resilience capabilities. Matthew has developed a ground break resilience assessment tool that he has piloted and is looking to gain traction with national stakeholders in order to open up the debate.

Our solution

Our solution is world building to create context and stimulate  schools' engagement in ed tech development

 

A lack of maturity and curiosity among key leaders and buyers means that emerging tech businesses don't gain quality insight into the key challenges and behaviours among their buyers and decision makers aren’t fully aware of the risks and benefits of technology.

 

We will combine world building and resilience facilitation to assess and stimulate schools' leaders capacity, capability and engagement in ed tech development to assure alignment and potential realisation.

 

This programme targets school leaders to step up and prepare for digital delivery by assessing readiness and applying strategic management principles of future shaping and world building. It's an immersive programme, where engrossing future landscapes are created, that shift laggards and late adopters (typical headteachers) further up the innovation curve.

 

This in turn stimulates more open market engagement with ed tech companies, creating more valuable products and services that gain traction across the market and more equitable access for children and young people.

 

The resilience assessment tool is wholly innovative and has only been tested in one or two environments. The world building principle has so far been tested with business leaders rather than headteachers and has been the most effective strategy tool I've seen for triggering debate, action and commitment. In the research-informed scenario teaching is wholly AI driven and delivered - leaders respond emotionally rather than cognitively and love it, hate it or anything in between.

 

This drive to connect emotion into strategy is an emerging field for schools leaders.