Systems thinking

At the Academy for Innovation, we build innovation capacity in schools by combining action learning with inquiry in real issues.  We combine action with ideation, enabling teachers to co-design inquiry projects and co-create strategic interventions that deliver innovative solutions to complex problems.   Our approach is driven by generative inquiry with three levels of impact  - pupil attainment, teacher development and system innovation.

Our school-based MA in Leadership and Innovation enables leaders to sponsor strategic R&D teams in school, where conceptual frameworks about curriculum design, assessment, subject knowledge and evaluation of impact are identified and challenged.  Through our school-based seminars, teachers engage with current research, interrogate assumptions about practice and develop hypotheses that are evaluated through strategic inquiry projects.  Through the fusion of creativity with utility, teachers design projects that address big, visionary ideas grounded in school-based data on need.  At the heart of our process of generative inquiry is the interrogation of tacit assumptions about practice, where ‘wicked’ issues are identified, re-defined and researched to better understand what works, why and under which circumstances.  This means that all projects are context relevant but have the potential to scale because context variables are identified and understood.

Leading evidence-based change

At the heart of generative inquiry and the co-design of strategic inquiry projects is the cultivation of generative leadership of innovation.  We recognize that when teachers design projects to inquire into practice and design interventions that probe what works, they are moving into the realms of generating new professional knowledge with the potential to inform change.  The development of skills in strategic inquiry is incomplete if they do not encompass skills development in leading evidence-informed innovation.  The latter requires teachers to consider intended impact from the outset and to liaise with project stakeholders at every stage of a school-based project.  It involves new relationships with pupils and colleagues premised on co-design, co-creation and collaborative problem solving.  What we are doing through an iterative design process that moves from strategic inquiry projects to strategic innovation is building teacher capacity for leading change and innovation that is sustainable and grounded in the realities of schooling.

Our school-based tutors work with MA students to ensure that the project design process is both robust and realistic.  Seminars held every fortnight at the school develop teachers’ skills in project design, critical thinking and creative synthesis by requiring each teacher to locate their proposed project within a conceptual framework derived from current relevant research and to give regular updates on progress.

Sustainable Innovation

There are 5 modules within the 2-year, school-based part-time   Masters. They include Design for Impact, Research Methods, Strategic Inquiry, The Case for Change and Leading Innovation.   This model of delivery supports schools in attracting, retaining and developing talent through provision of a school-based Masters pathway that grows teachers’ specialist expertise.   The assessment model enables teachers to develop skills in reporting on progress, writing academic papers, giving professional presentations, designing projects, analyzing data, developing proposals for change and leading high impact innovation.  Our website www.interfacespace means teachers can collaborate across London and beyond around similar projects.

We also support school-to-school collaboration through facilitation of project design that takes account of over-arching values yet addresses practice challenges specific to each school.  The London Schools Excellence Fund is funding projects rooted in our innovation process at Cricket Green School, Mitcham that is one of our lead affiliated school within a collaborative of 10 schools across Merton.

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Bottom up co-design and co-creation driving innovation

18 Nov – At the Academy for Innovation, we build innovation capacity in schools by combining action learning with inquiry in real issues.

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