A New Era



Andy Hargreaves, one of the world’s leading thinkers and an activist in educational leadership, tells us how schools today sit within two distinctly different eras. Targets, attainments and global league tables manifested from around the year 2000 defined by the demand for increased effort for higher achievements, faster delivery and performing more for less money. From around 2015, wellbeing, engagement and identity became the focus, maybe in response to the escalating number of cases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, bullying in and out of cyberspace and trauma caused by unrest, violence and migration.
Physical activity is key to a child’s ability to learn and lead a happier and healthier life. Cultural change in physical activity has dragged increasing numbers of society into a life cycle of poor health and well-being. At home, in school and within community settings we are all able to reverse this trend if we work collaboratively first and foremost meeting the real needs of the child.
Pasi Sahlberg, author of FinnishED Leadership and international expert in education reform tells us, “If we are serious about children’s well-being and health, then we need to change what we expect them to do in school every day”. Our research tell us we need to go one step further. We need to change what parents expect of their children every day when not in school. Parents need relative research-based facts so they can make informed decisions.
Hargreaves said in late 2016 that although the UK English schools are “way ahead of most of the world” in terms of collaborating to improve opportunities for pupils, however, ‘identity politics’ can be a serious setback for progress. Policies influenced by an individual’s background and upbringing, experiences and agendas can too easily lead to poor decision-making.
Pasi Sahlberg tells us to ‘use small data for big change’ and questions if changes based on big data (analytics and statistics on a national and global scale) are well-suited for improving teaching and learning in schools and classrooms. Martin Lindstrom (2016) calls small data tiny clues that reveal big trends, these clues often hidden in the invisible fabric of schools.
A combined understanding of a) the children’s perspective and b) the significance of local data relative to the environment, community setting, family dynamics, local economy, schools and available facilities, is absolutely critical if every child, irrespective of their circumstances, is given the opportunity to lead a healthy and positive life.  For example, between the years 2000 and 2010 we were able to understand the inability of a large number of parents in an area of high socio-economic deprivation in Ross-on-Wye to support their children in playing out-of-school activities by revealing the significant number of parents working on night shifts. Communities, parents, children and schools all have hidden clues and it is necessary to work collaboratively with all relative parties when addressing these, so every child has an equal opportunity to be physically and mentally healthy.
We are able to access big data that can help us understand the national and global picture. On a local level, because we have worked directly with children over many years, we are able to understand which questions need to be answered (small data) to enable children and parents to set achievable goals. Highly significant to this is the importance of girls and mothers to long-term whole family participation, both together and as individuals.
ParcoursO will be back soon.  Full details will be posted shortly.
Look out also for details of something new and unique for family adventures over Christmas this year.
For directions go to www.rootsadventure.co.uk