Meet our Innovative Schools!

As usual at these events, we have the best intention of writing blog posts every day, but the event’s agenda of workshops, keynotes and collaboration projects has kept us completely occupied from 9 – 18:30 every day. Thus it’s now Friday and it’s only our second post of the week. Better late than never, I always say…

In my last post, I mentioned that this year’s Innovative Education Forum was unique because it is bringing together teachers AND schools from all over the world. Microsoft has been running an Innovative Schools Programme for nearly three years now; it was originally announced by Bill Gates when he addressed world leaders with Gordon Brown (before he was prime minister) at Microsoft’s Government Leaders Forum in Edinburgh. In the Innovative Schools Programme, Microsoft works with schools from 35 countries, providing them with mentorship, a community of peers and education experts from around the world, and leading research, expertise and proven practice to help them transform the way their schools operate. Schools are encouraged to rethink all aspects of school life, from the structure of the day and the use of technology in the curriculum to ensure that teachers have the space and time to bring innovative practices to the classroom.

The competition to be a part of the Innovative Schools Programme is fierce; this year we had over 110 schools apply for 30 spaces. In the UK, we were lucky enough to be the only country with TWO schools selected to be in the programme – both from Scotland. They are Calderglen High School, outside of Glasgow, and Stirling High School in (you guessed it) Stirling.

Since we’ll likely be talking about these schools a lot this year, and since everyone will get to share in what the schools are learning at this conference – and at other meetings and “virtual university” sessions – through the Partners in Learning Network, I thought you should have a little introduction to them here.



Calderglen High School: Located in East Kilbride, Calderglen is a comprehensive school with over 1700 students ages 11-18. Calderglen is a relatively “new” school, having formed in 2007 as the merger of two schools put into a new build (sound familiar?). Their merger was extremely successful as a result of the connection they have with parents, community and other local stakeholders, and because of the work they did to prepare students and staff for the changes. They are partnered with another local school, which shares their campus, and pupils in both schools share aspects of the curriculum and all facilities with each other.

As part of the Innovative Schools Programme, Calderglen hopes to get help with some of the innovations in curriculum design, ICT use and CPD that they are undertaking right now. We’ll hear more from Tony McDaid and Odette Frazer (pictured at left at the Innovative Schools fair at the Forum), as well as others from Calderglen.P1010516


Stirling High School: A slightly smaller comprehensive school at nearly 1000 students, Stirling is also an 11-18 school. They have a successful model of distributed leadership at the school; indeed, the head teacher gave up her place on this trip so that the team behind the Innovative Schools application could attend. Stirling students are involved in real-world projects with environmental and enterprise focus that allow them to collaborate with community members and have an impact on the place they call home.

As part of the Innovative Schools Programme, Stirling hopes to learn from others (like our former UK Innovative School in Knowsley) about pupil-centred curriculum design, among other things. Meet Mark Rushton, Michael Mullin, Lesley Allen and Alan Hamilton at right.


I have been sitting with the schools during this week (when I wasn’t busy judging Innovative teachers projects – more on that later!) In addition to lots of discussion with the other 29 new Pathfinder schools and the 12 Mentor schools, they have heard from experts from Cambridge Education and the Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation (on creating a vision for change), from the International Society for Technology in Education and the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition (on system change vs incremental change in education) and from Microsoft and others (on developing innovations in business and education).

Today we’re all lucky enough to get to hear from Jean-Francois Rischard, former president of the World Bank and author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them. I had the chance to speak with him last night at a technology fair for all Forum attendees, and I can’t wait to hear what he has to share with us later today.

Tonight, of course, is the gala dinner. Stuart and I will blog later with the results. Fingers crossed for our teachers!

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