You may – like me – have good and positive memories of the 2007 McKinsey report into the best performing school systems, which offered a very simple solution to school improvement, “It’s the teacher stupid.” The authors reached the conclusion that “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers”, and this acknowledgement of the central importance of professional learning and teacher development for school improvement has since been further explored in “Teaching Scotland’s Future”.
McKinsey et al have now produced a second report which looks at how systems continue and sustain improvement, regardless of their starting point. It considers the need to contextualise the practice of other countries to take account of local circumstances, and the need to select interventions based on where the system currently is located. It describes some of the “sources of ignition” that are present in every sustained improvement. There is an interesting section which explores the implications of Michael Fullan’s findings around “Collective Capacity” which “enables ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things” by developing a better understanding of effective practice, but even more powerfully by working together to generate commitment. “Moral purpose, when it stares you in the face through students and your peers working together to make lives and society better, is palpable, indeed virtually irresistible. The collective motivational well seems bottomless. The speed of effective change increases exponentially“. These findings are particularly interesting to the CPD Team in regard to the continuing and developing interest in Learning Rounds across Scotland.