Good ideas jump sectors
"Why do we do things this way or that way?"
That is the question often goes through my mind whenever I enter a school or trust. Why is the status quo the status quo? Is it because it's the right thing to do, the best way to do things or the easiest way to do things?
Academisation has given schools and trusts more freedom than ever to run as they see fit. Although our priority should always be to provide our students with the best possible education, we can support this learning by finding innovative ways to improve school and trust management. The education sector is full of bright individuals with an array of backgrounds – and academisation has only increased the number of professionals from different industries who have signed up. As well as a host of experience, they often bring the advantage of having used different processes and procedures in their other sectors.
Disruptive innovation sounds like a worrying concept – however it is the art of using an unconventional business model to come into a market and eventually become the "norm". When Henry Ford introduced the moving assembly line, he transformed car production from a highly skilled job into blue-collar labour. This, in turn, revolutionised mass production and became standard practice across almost all industries. Netflix is another strong example of disruptive innovation. Although it's primarily known as a streaming service now, when it was founded in 1998, it was in direct competition to Blockbuster video. However, by offering rentals delivered directly to customers, it borrowed from mail-order companies and completely changed the DVD rental market.
Schools have to maintain a certain "business model" in that they always need teachers to facilitate learning by their students alongside support staff who make sure that the schools run as efficiently as possible. What would "disruptive innovation" look like in education? Here are our ideas on what we think could be the next big disruptive ideas in education.
Seeing schools as pathways to careers
Typically, within the world of work, there is a set hierarchy of career progression which begins when a new employee starts – either from school, university or from a different industry. However, what if young people could step onto that ladder while still in school? Trade schools have always been a way for students who aren't as academically focussed to pursue a trade. These combined with a growing number of apprenticeships have meant that there are an increasing number of avenues for young people to go down if they don't wish to pursue further education.
In 2011, IBM partnered with the Department of Education in New York City to open a P-TECH school. P-TECH schools were designed to address a technical skills gap for "new-collar jobs" in tech. There are now 300 P-TECH schools across 11 states in America with two in Australia, covering sectors like health IT, advanced manufacturing and energy technology. In 2021, George Clooney, alongside other actors and producers, unveiled plans to open a high school in California which would "diversify the pipeline of cinematographers, engineers, visual effects artists". This school will help students who are interested in supporting the entertainment industry but can't or don't want to pursue the traditional pathway.
Although, there could be ethical questions if companies were to start schools, giving students with a passion for a particular industry or career the skills that they need to succeed could be a way to harness sector knowledge within education.
Opening up systems
In the finance sector, "Open Banking" has revolutionised the way that financial institutions work. In "Open Banking", data is given to regulated providers to access, use or share when the customer chooses to do so. This has allowed new products (like automated payments) to come to market, has given customers more freedom to choose how they spend, borrow or invest their hard-earned cash and has improved trust in banks.
Education, as a whole, is an exceptionally open sector where most people are more than happy to share their own experiences. However, what could be achieved if more data was shared, aside from league tables?
Open Banking has led to a reduction in costs and improved decision-making due to having more data points. Schools have a wide range of variables, from their location to the background of their students, but having more anonymised data can never be a bad thing if it allows you to see trends and work accordingly.
Challenging the status quo can be extremely difficult, but I often find that the best way to grow is to think outside the box and to strive towards best practice. Although what "best practice" looks like is different in every school or trust, the concept is the same. It's being the best that we can be to provide our students with the best possible outcomes. Just because an idea has its origin in another industry doesn't mean that it can't be adapted or adopted into our schools to betterment of our children's futures.
Keystone Knowledge's team of experts all come from diverse backgrounds, in education and outside of it, and are experienced in providing solutions to allow your school or trust to run more effectively. From providing strategic advice on a specific project to long-term support through a HR retainer, Keystone can help.
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