Building Schools for the Future – what does "Transformed Education" look like?

One of the goals of the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme is to transform education. But when the Education Select Committee report was published earlier this month, one of their observations was that there is no common vision about what 'transformed education' looks like:

"The crucial question what do we want education to be in the 21st century? A clear statement of the national ambitions for 21st century education could help to provide guidance and challenge to the local decision-making process."

And they went on to say that too often BSF projects are rushed through without sufficient consultation with head teachers and staff in schools:

"There is a very strong argument that the initial ‘visioning’ phase should be lengthened"

All of which reminded me to write a little about some of the work that we have been doing in the BSF programme, working with local authorities, head teachers and other stakeholders in the education system. We have been working to help create tools that can be used to build a common vision of 'transformed education' - providing models for groups to create a vision of the future - and guidance for what may be possible in the future. I could write at length about it - but the BSF Guides we've created run to hundreds of pages, but much more compelling is the BSF Showcase.

The Microsoft BSF Showcase

We created this to help stimulate a discussion on what learning in the future may look like. When the curriculum is personalised to each learner. Where age isn't the strongest deciding factor on what a student learns next. And where "Subjects" aren't the dividing lines we put into the curriculum. And also, where we look at how students use technology outside of the classroom, and see how it integrates within the educational context. (Anybody with a teenager will know what I mean there. My children come straight home from school and start Messenger, video calls, go into online web communities, and do all of this whilst doing their homework. And although mine haven't reached the stage yet, I have seen how it rapidly becomes the model by which they collaborate and communicate to get their homework done.)

So the BSF Showcase wraps all these technologies together with a new learning style, and says "What If....?"

The first video to watch is only 2 minutes long, and it gives you a brief look at the Showcase, and an idea of the reaction of students, seeing it for the first time.

Video: BSF Showcase Trailer


 And the second video, is a much longer guided tour through the BSF Showcase. It is 20 minutes long, but hopefully the video above has given you the appetite to watch it all! 

Video: Microsoft UK's Building Schools for the Future Showcase

You can download these videos from our main UK Education website, as well as read more about our work on BSF.

Comments (2)

  1. m.pollitt says:

    Very interesting concepts – I particularly like the user interface and the online books. The e-portfolio looks very user friedly – is there an easy navigation option so that users can quickly move between pages?

    What technical infrastructure would you envisage this requiring to run? Do you think that only new build schools could support every child accessing this wirelessly?

    The concepts around collaboration are good but what about coursework which must never be collaborated on? Could we stop children copying a childs work from abroad?

    What security policies would be needed to prevent misuse? How would this work alongside e-safety?

    Apologies for all the questions



  2. Ray Fleming says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Interesting questions – and ones which have come up in discussions with those who are planning for the future learning environment. I’ll have a crack at some of them, but they are an answer, rather than "the answer"! I’m sure others will jump in with their views too:

    E-portofolio navigation:

    I guess if this made it through to a real-life implementation, rather than just a demonstration, then there would be more ways to navigate – how about intelligent navigation, that knew about your learning timetable and your review schedule, and put the right pages in the right order (like putting your homework diary on the first page between 4 and 9pm, but your schools message board on the first page between 8 and 10am!)

    Technical infrastructure:

    I think it is feasible for support every child wirelessly, and given that this is a vision of the future, you could imagine that this will only get easier as new technology increases signal reach and bandwidth. It is probably like the situation 8-10 years ago, when few considered that you’d need network point all around the school, and the prohibitive cost limited what you could do. Now you can provide wireless access to two classrooms for the cost of a single fixed network point.


    Your are right that this is an issue. I think whatever happens, we need to think about it, embrace it, and manage it. Even if you don’t allow collaboration within school, it will still happen outside the gates. Perhaps there needs to be a new approach to collaboration and assessment. For example, it is perfectly feasible to get students to collaborate on a wiki-like project, where it is possible to evaluate the input of any student into the project as a whole (and perhaps reflect specific skill sets – some people are poor writers, but fantasic editors. Why would we not want to recognise that?)

    Security Policies:

    As I don’t have an easy answer to that one at my fingertips, maybe I can throw that out to others to comment….


Skip to main content