During the school holidays, I had the privilege of joining Louka Parry and Dr Anne Knock from The Learning Future, along with a group of school leaders from SA and NSW, on a study tour of schools, universities, and various learning institutions across Europe.

During the trip, I spent time exploring the latest developments in global education and listening and learning from thought leaders around the world. This included meeting leading global innovators, Lasse Leponieme, Co-Founder and Executive Director of HundrED Education Innovation, and Dr. Stephen Harris, Co-Founder of LearnLife Urban Hub School, Barcelona. It was a wonderful opportunity for professional development, it also provided me with many innovative ideas and potential improvements for our School.

Overwhelmingly, I felt affirmed by the direction our School is moving in, and inspired by the opportunities that we have at St Andrew's to continue to growing and learning as a school community.

During our PD day, I discussed my key learnings with our staff, focusing on these four core areas: School Culture, Global Learning, Innovative Learning Spaces, and Wellbeing. The schools we visited passionately shared their vision, commitment, and innovations in each of these domains.

Positive school culture is vital for a thriving school community, exemplified by the schools we visited. They fostered a calm, welcoming, and innovative environment where all community members shared a responsibility for the students. These schools served as community hubs where positive relationships flourished, collaboration was embraced, and problem-solving was a shared dialogue. The importance of nurturing ongoing positive relationships became evident, reinforcing the idea that school culture mirrors its people and necessitates continuous maintenance.

Global learning is evolving rapidly, transcending the traditional education model. Schools worldwide recognise the need to prepare students for a dynamic future. The schools I visited focus on developing competencies and skills beyond mere content knowledge, emphasising collaboration, problem-solving, and practical skills while maintaining a balanced integration of ICT skills. We discussed the challenges posed by technology, mobile phones, and AI in education. Our resources at St Andrew's, in areas like the Collaboratory, Music, Performing Arts, and digital technologies, compare favourably with what I observed. Global leaders agreed with our approach, stressing the importance of explicitly teaching foundational skills, particularly in English and Maths. They emphasised the need for a balanced approach to developing competent learners ready for their future.

Innovative learning spaces were a common theme among the schools I visited. They experiment with flexible and agile spaces to enhance learning opportunities and support students. Some schools, like those in Edinburgh, have developed "spatial literacy" to explain the purpose of different learning spaces, such as the 'waterhole' for collaboration, the 'campfire' for teacher-guided learning, and the 'cave' for independent work. These ideas align with aspects of our own classrooms at St Andrew's, suggesting an opportunity for shared understanding and language within our community.

Lastly, positive wellbeing for all school community members was a shared focus worldwide, including St Andrew's. I had the opportunity to exchange strategies with other school leaders on teaching concepts and developing skills for positive wellbeing. We discussed the importance of dedicated staff teams and spaces for wellbeing. Our Director of Wellbeing, Donna, and her team's proactive work were acknowledged. We emphasised that wellbeing is an everyday effort, underlining the importance of fostering a sense of belonging and connection within our community. I observed innovative strategies, such as using music to develop a sense of belonging in one classroom, which I look forward to sharing with our team.

For more information about my study tour, feel free to check my LinkedIn or get in touch via email. Let's schedule a coffee chat this term to discuss further.

David Hodges
Deputy Principal