International Council of Education Advisers: third report 2021-2023

This is the third formal report of the ICEA relating to their third two-year term (2021-2023) of work.

Strategic Area 3: Support collaboration among teachers and schools

ICEA has highlighted the importance of collaboration among teachers and schools and the need to develop coherent networks to support innovation and improvement across the system. This is necessary to tap into the latent potential that exists within Scottish education. Put simply, more teacher and leadership expertise, knowledge and ideas exist within the system than are currently being utilised.

In practice, this involves building relationships across curricula, organisational, geographical and professional boundaries that moves knowledge, expertise and ideas around the system. It is crucial that such collaborative working is not a blind act of faith. Rather, activity must be underpinned by systematic enquiry to ensure that evidence informs developments rather than replicating uninformed or out-of-date practice. Building a Scottish Networked Learning System that promotes working across boundaries and is driven by evidence will ensure that all teachers have access to the very best professional learning and resources to impact on pupil achievement.

There has been some progress in different parts of the system in this respect. For example, one Regional Improvement Collaborative (RIC) website states: “We will build on existing practice to build a learning system that will bring about equity, excellence and empowerment. The system will promote a culture of learning… We will facilitate collaboration which will promote, allow and scaffold learning and challenge partners”. However, there is still work to be done to build a wide-spread culture of systemic networked learning. International evidence suggests that it is very difficult to mandate or drive this change from the centre through hierarchies (Payne, 2008). Rather, for this approach to be successful it requires nurture, facilitation and brokerage through networks across the system and to be led by credible practitioners who can demonstrate impact in their own classrooms and schools.

Specific Recommendations

1. Build on and expand the most promising collaborative professional learning programmes that are led by teachers for teachers. This will ensure the most recent and relevant expertise and experience is diffused around the system. Other parts of the system should be designed to serve this agenda.

2. Invest in the technological architecture to support teacher collaboration across curricula, organisational, geographical and professional boundaries so that all have access to highest quality professional learning irrespective of their context.

3. Strengthen relationships between school and regional personnel, including within and across RICs to build capacity for leadership from the middle, with a view to increasing support and challenge through collaborative improvement.

4. Incentivise collaboration within and across regions by adhering to the principles of subsidiarity which places limited resources to where they can incentivise collaboration and make the most difference in schools and classrooms.



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