Michael Barber: The Best Systems Will Execute & Innovate

Episode 3 of the EduPreneurs featured Sir Michael Barber (@MichaelBarber9), a leading authority on education systems and education reform. Over the past two decades his research and advisory work has focused on school improvement, standards and performance; system-wide reform; effective implementation; access, success and funding in higher education; and access and quality in schools in developing countries.

Barber is Chief Education Advisor for Pearson’s worldwide programme of research into education policy and efficacy, advising on and supporting the development of products and services that build on the research findings, and playing a particular role in Pearson’s strategy for education in the poorest sectors of the world, particularly in fast-growing developing economies.

Prior to Pearson, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company and Head of McKinsey’s global education practice. He co-authored two major McKinsey education reports: How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better (2010) and How the world’s best-performing schools come out on top (2007).

He previously served the UK government as Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (from 2001-2005) and as Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards (from 1997-2001). Before joining government he was a professor at the Institute of Education at the University of London. He is the author of several books including Instruction to Deliver; The Learning Game: Arguments for an Education Revolution and How to do the Impossible: a Guide for Politicians with a Passion for Education.

Given Barbers’ extensive focus on improving deliver, Tom asked Barber, “Is it fair to suggest that you believe education is primarily an execution challenge?” Barber said the first key is to get the policy right, then it’s 90% execution.

Michael discussed the role of innovation and his recent reports on the subject, Oceans of Innovation and An Avalanche is Coming.  He said “pilot projects are really for testing implementation” and suggested “keeping innovations separate from the system.”  He noted that the best systems in the world will executive at a high level and promote innovation.

Tom asked Barber if the new Pearson efficacy framework, reviewed here, would increase or dampen innovation.  Barber thought it would help clarify objectives and focus innovation on demonstrable outcomes.

See the full 12 minute interview here.


Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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1 Comment

Sandy McKane

We are so top heavy with adult perspective and initiative to stimulate our American youth to engage in their education. We need their energy and inspiration; we need a cooperative, community building environment. Inclusion and real life problem solving is needed.
Instead of taking apart efforts already underway, we can add the balancing voice of the people, that includes our youth. We can invigorate academic work with relevance in creating needed solutions - in our local, national and global communities. We need to balance structure with creativity and freedom. It can be done.
Consider a K-12 service initiative that can be immediately adopted to lift us up into the zone of inspiration with more assessable outcomes. k12serviceinitiative.com and http://bit.ly/19VSIPj

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