Hello, my name is Xavier Prats Monné, I am an advisor at 'Teach For All'.
'Teach For All' is a global network of organisations. We are present in more than 60 countries and we are based on a very simple idea. The best and the brightest young people in any generation should be able to get into the teaching profession, and the best teachers should go to the most difficult schools.
And on this basis, what we do is recruit bright, motivated young people, train them as teachers and send them for two years in a disadvantaged school of their own country. And this has really a transformative power for those young people who see the transformative power of education by themselves, but also for the schools where they go with their motivation and their tools and also eventually education systems.
On how the schools can raise their profile in their community...
It's not so much how they should raise their profile as an end in itself, but how schools can become part of the community. Why? Well, it's very simple, because it's very difficult to imagine educational schools as a self-standing, isolated institution that is separate from its environment. So it is really very important that schools work with communities to have the same vision, a shared vision of what kind of education children need and how to get there. Of course, it's all very well to say that a school should engage with its community, but doing it is, of course, not that easy and sometimes there are many obstacles.
One kind of obstacle is that in many occasions schools are actually prevented from rules, habits and regulations to actually engage outside their own environment with a community. There is very little provision of tools in traditional schools to engage with the community. But then the other, of course, most important obstacle comes from the society itself.
Many schools in disadvantaged areas have students from an enormous amount of nationalities, cultural traditions, languages. Sometimes the students, and even more often the families don't have a habit or don’t have the tools to communicate with the school. So engaging with the community can be as much of a challenge as there is a challenge of social inclusion in many of our cities and communities.
How can school leaders bring new competencies in schools and why?
Well, of course, it's very important that there is a common understanding about a curriculum for a whole country or a whole region at least, because we should be clear and we should have a common view with our societies as to what a young person should have learnt by the time they leave school. But it's also very important that we don't forget that realities can be very different on the ground. So we must have school leaders that have the capacity to be creative; that have the capacity to take decisions about their own community and their own local reality.
This is extremely important because if not, it's not just that the impact will be bad for students. It's also that the impact will be bad for leaders and for schools, because how can we recruit competent, motivated, efficient leaders if we don't give them the assurance that they will be able to be creative, to be assured by having the freedom to adapt their own competencies and the competencies of their faculty, of their teachers.
The role of collective leadership and networks
Collective leadership is a very common word for us in 'Teach For All', because everything that our experience tells us, in countries as different as Bangladesh, Sweden or Uruguay, is always the same: education is not just about the school. It takes much more than that, and it makes a lot of sense to make sure that education is not an individual enterprise of one person, of one institution, or of one level of government, but precisely a collective exercise.
For education reform to function, to be effective, you need to mobilise an enormous amount of very different stakeholders with different interests, with different priorities. This is perhaps the curse of educational reform compared to other areas of policy, but it's also a demonstration that education is so important for our society because so many people, so many institutions are affected by it.