Tag Archives: Free school

How to Build a School: Guidance from The Ministry of Learning

Photo by Nguyen Khanh Ly on Unsplash

The Ministry of Learning requests that you use the following guidelines when submitting a school design:

ONE: PROBLEM
Define the problem you aim to solve and make sure those funding the school agree. The problem might be, ‘How do we best prepare our children for their futures?’ or ‘What’s the most effective way to equip and empower global citizens?’ or ‘How do we provide the most purposeful teaching and learning on the planet/to save the planet?’

Problems such as, ‘How do we get the best exam scores?’ or ‘How do we get the best school grading?’ will not be accepted.

TWO: PURPOSE
Clarify the purpose served by the school. Link this to the problem being solved. Include a causal connective. E.g.: ‘Our school prepares children for their futures so that they have meaningful and productive lives.’ Or, ‘Our school equips children with appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to empower them to make significant global contributions.

Vague purposes such as, ‘To love learning and to be happy.’ will not be accepted.

THREE: PEOPLE
Decide who will work at and for your school. Choose people who will commit to solving the problem and to fulfilling the purpose. Prioritise attitude, integrity and character over knowledge, skills and experience. Don’t rely on interviews. Rely on the testimony of people you trust who have known the candidate through thick and thin. Give these people the best professional life possible with the resources available.

Choose people who say ‘we’ as much as ‘I’.

FOUR: CURRICULUM
Buy or make a curriculum that your people can use to solve the problem and fulfill the purpose. Build in slack and make it flexible. As the world changes, change your curriculum.

Do not choose a curriculum to please someone who is not invested in your problem and your purpose.

FIVE: PEDAGOGY
Use a range of pedagogies that bring the curriculum to life. Let your people thrive in their teaching. Let them play to their strengths and their passions – so long as they stick to the problem and the purpose.

Do not make everyone teach in the same way. Conformity leads to mediocrity. It raises the weak and lowers the strong to the same level.

SIX: ACCOUNTABILITY
Insist that everyone holds themselves to account against the problem, the purpose, the curriculum and their chosen pedagogy. Give an account of the school’s performance to whoever is paying for it and, more importantly, to the children who learn there.

Do not be held to account by anyone who is not fully invested in the purpose, the problem and the people.

SEVEN: QUALITY
Co-create about 10 single page quality statements that describe what’s seen and heard when the school is doing ONE to SIX well, safely and legally. Evaluate lived experience against the expectation expressed in these statements. Explore what accounts for any difference and address it. Statements might include: Quality Teacher, Quality Learner, Quality Leader, Quality Inclusion and Diversity, Quality Safeguarding, Quality Character, Quality Kindness etc.

Do not create any policies. Quality statements work; they become dog-eared not dusty.

EIGHT: PROFESSIONAL LEARNING
Grow through regular, collaborative professional learning with the help of invited experts, consultants and colleagues.

Do not accept any external initiative, advice or consultation unless it authentically supports ONE to SEVEN.

NINE: WHAT IF
Stages ONE to EIGHT will not go to plan or happen in order. Anticipate barriers, challenges, setbacks and revisions. Prepare for surprises and shocks with an open mind and an anti-fragile heart.

To receive an information pack and arrange a free consultation to help you build your own school, please contact the Ministry of Learning. In the future. But not too far into the future I hope.