In October I will be speaking at the Digitally Confident Conference in Gateshead alongside my head teacher Rachel Orr. As part of the conference we have been asked to respond to, “If I were in charge of educational policy I would…”
This is not something I have found easy to do. However, I hope that this encompasses my vision for education:
I can’t think of anything more important to all of us than our young people and their futures. If education is about equipping our young people with the skills to participate successfully in a world with constantly changing horizons, then being digitally confident becomes as central as English and Mathematics. If I were in charge of education policy, I would recognise that one single person cannot change the educational landscape but rather it takes communication, collaboration and a shared vision that elevates technologies to be more than an add-on tool for learning. Replicating existing practices and hoping for the best will not provide children with the skills necessary to be digitally confident. Educational change should be rooted in research and practice and aim to educate the whole child in a real world context. Children do not engage in endless testing in the real world but rather engage in a fusion of communicative practices through digital technologies and collaboration with peers. The education system needs to recognise and respond to this.
Digital technologies have fundamentally changed the communicative landscape and resulted in a mass of “new literacies” spanning different domains of life. Within these domains children learn habits of communicating both online and offline. As educators we need to work together to help teach and guide children to use safe “habits” of communicating in different domains. If I were in charge of educational policy I would not push my personal views of education onto others but I would encourage debate, discussion and vision between different spheres of education – pupils, classroom teachers, senior leaders, headteachers, academics, consultants – all those concerned in the education of our young people should have a voice. It is important to recognise that these spheres have one thing in common – the advancement of a relevant education system which places the best interests of our young people at its core. Educationalists and young people need a voice that is heard. If I were in charge of educational policy I would give them the voice they deserve.