Michael Barber was the architect of many of the UK education reforms for Tony Blair and then joined McKinsey as its education practice leader. Barber is a global thought leader on education and one of the leading thinkers about learning systems.
Barber opened Excellence in Action this morning with his building blocks of world-class education:
1.Standards & accountability: benchmarked standards, transparent data, all student agenda challenging inequality
2. Human capital & collective capacity: recruit great people, continuous improvement, great leadership at every school
3. Structure & Organization: effective central government, change management capacity, school-level budgets
The journey to world class education begins by mandating adequacy and is kicked into high gear by unleashing greatness:
1. Poor to fair: basics of literacy & numeracy
2. Fair to good: getting the foundations in place
3. Good to great: shaping the system
4. Sustaining greatness: continuous renewal
Progress depends on systemic implementation. It’s starts with clear priorities which much be supported by a plan. Daily routines are interrupted and redirected and sustained through new relationships.
When pressed by Checker Finn on choice (since it didn’t show up in the building blocks), Barber noted that while he’s sympathetic, there’s not that much in the global evidence base as a key lever. “As citizens become more empowered, they will demand more and greater choices.”
[here’s a deck from last year that includes Barber’s building blocks]