“The great challenge is ensuring that innovation and entrepreneurship don’t just improve quality but also fairness.”

Round table on pioneering projects and schools in Europe

Ignasi Carreras, director of the ESADE Institute for Social Innovation

“How can we ensure that innovation results in excellence and quality, but above all in equal opportunities for everybody?”

Carl Jarvis, Executive director of Hartsholme Academy and St. Giles Academy

“When we proposed the project, we were very clear that we had to make school more fun, more relevant and more effective. Why haven’t classrooms changed for decades? With this mission we changed our pedagogy. The school is carrying out a global project that will become a legacy for the community.”

“We don’t make plans thinking about the exam our students have to pass, but about how to keep them motivated, how to work on a project for the community, and when we have that clear, we pour the official curriculum into the project. This also involves changing the teachers’ mindset.” 

“We try to act in schools that are not obtaining good results in order to motivate the students. This produces a cause-effect and that’s when the students rediscover their motivation.”

Student First!

Caroline Verlee, Ashoka Change Team Leader at the UniC school (Utrecht)

“We realised that education was not providing children with the tools they are going to need in their adult lives. At our school, the graduation diploma includes the added value of personal development. We focus on the children’s individuality, on their autonomy and on their capacity to connect ideas.”

“The classes are organised in circles, in very large classrooms, with two or three teachers at the same time attending to the whole group. The students discover and apply their different talents and help each other. Each teacher at the school is also a mentor to a couple of students, as well as for a group. The students are able to play various roles in the same group during the school year.”

“When we fail is when we truly learn. Failure is a good thing in education and we try to get our students to act from this perspective. We train our students in design thinking, guiding them towards problem solving, and this motivates them a great deal and also motivates the teachers too.”

“We try to ensure that the classes are as hands-on as possible. For example, using Skype for English classes, rather than a text book.”

“We use grades as little as possible to evaluate students. We try to assess them on the skills we feel are necessary for achieving certain objectives. In our opinion, the process is more important than the results, and this helps to open up a dialogue with the students from which we learn a great deal.” 

“The students have a lot of autonomy to decide at each moment how they are going to spend their time and how to organise their work. They can access all the school material they need at any time using their computers.”

Stefano Lavaggi, Director of Piazza dei Mestieri

“Our aim is excellence in production, in the experience. We strive to ensure that young people don’t become disillusioned by their early failures and always adopt a positive attitude and, with this incentive, they won’t abandon their studies.”

“The strength of our school is that we offer kids a place where they can find something beautiful, where each person is unique and education is integrated with free time and culture in general.”

“One of the mottos of our cooperative is an aphorism by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: ‘When you want to build a ship, do not begin by gathering wood, cutting boards, and distributing work, but rather awaken within men the desire for the vast and endless sea.’”

“Head, heart and hands: to produce high quality work you need these three elements to be well connected, and this is what we transmit to our students.”

David Calle, the only Spaniard among the 10 finalists in the Global Teacher Prize

“Six years ago I began to make videos after realising in an academy that each student has a completely different learning rhythm. With the crisis, I thought that it would be a good idea to record videos so that kids could access my content even though they did not have the resources to attend the academy. The videos soon went viral on YouTube. My obsession is that they remain free always and for everyone. If kids all have the same opportunities, the world will have a chance.”

“A video can never replace a teacher, but it can help a great deal with class dynamics.”

“We must ensure that every student can feel useful and important in a project, because if they have this feeling, nothing will stop them.”

“The key to understanding the world is emotional, not mathematical, and even so it is difficult to understand the world! Emotions are fundamental and it is a long-term job.”