Why we need to empower teachers to make schools powerful

Society has got into a situation where it is comparing meaningless stats rather than relying on the deep professionalism of teachers.

Helen Wright, the UK principal and education consultant who headed Ascham School in Sydney in 2013-2014, recently returned to Australia to speak to the Association of Independent Schools (AIS), Macquarie University and a Queensland conference about her passion for internationalism in schools.

She also dropped into the NSW/ACT IEU to discuss her belief that schools can change the world.

Dr Wright has just published a book, Powerful Schools: How Schools can be Drivers of Social and Global Mobility, which outlines her belief in putting a global approach at the heart of all schools.

“Young people can connect globally digitally, but they need to be able to connect culturally and emotionally too,” Dr Wight said.

Schools should be seen to sit at the centre of communities, on a local and global scale. By admiring and respecting teachers, we empower them to form connections and partnerships with business, universities, charities and other organisations that can provide further opportunities for their students, she said.

“We underestimate the importance of our schools in their communities. Educators are busy and don’t often have time to talk about their school and its place in the community.”

In her book’s introduction she writes: “Together, social and global mobility are major drivers in developing schooling and education systems across the world: schools have it within their power to make equal opportunity possible. Greater social and global mobility result in fundamentally more equal opportunities, and schools and be powerful catalysts for this”.

Dr Wright is an ambassador for Plan International and said everyone has a moral responsibility to ensure every child in the world has opportunity.

Seeing teachers as experienced professionals and schools as investments which can generate both human capital and capital for the local and larger economy is a major part of Dr Wright’s thesis.

Teachers’ unions play a role in providing professional support to teachers and speaking out on their behalf.

“Society has got into a situation where it is comparing meaningless stats rather than relying on the deep professionalism of teachers,” Dr Wright said.

The book’s introduction says it “looks in detail at how schools can stretch themselves to develop still further what they are innately doing to improve the social and global mobility of the young people for whose education they have a responsibility”.

“This book is about practical action, and school leaders will very quickly discern whether or not the underlying principles it contains resonate with their own understandings of how society can and should function.”

The book is available from www.amazon.com