Collaborative Leadership at the Infinity School: ‘Where everyone is a learner, teacher and leader.’
A movement is growing which recognises that for Innovative Learning Environments, the associated Learning Leadership and for true Liberated Learning to be a reality then more equitable and democratic structures of leadership are needed within schools.
Predominantly structures of leadership present within UK schools have remained unchanged for decades. Despite changes in pedagogy, schooling and education, the structure of in-school leadership has altered very little with traditional hierarchies persisting. Such hierarchies are costly in both the economic sense and in the sense of human capital, with top down structures often limiting teacher agency, empowerment and ownership. In addition such structures neglect the leadership role that students and parents must play in any sustainable model of education. (Find out more about teacher-powered school systems.)
We at Infinity School are inspired by the work undertaken by the teacher powered school movement and by the compelling stories of structural and systems innovation shared through the text ‘Flip the System’, edited by Jelmer Evers and Rene Kneyber and the associated ‘Flip-the-System UK’ movement. Drawing upon these, the work of the OECD and our own experiences as school leaders, we seek to develop and apply a Collaborative Leadership Model as part of the Infinity School design. Such a model would adhere closely to our Mission & Culture, our Vision for Education, our 4 Design Principles and our 15 Distinguishing Features. Such a model would most effectively facilitate the Infinity Baccalaureate and in turn support outstanding student and teacher achievements.
Collaborative Leadership structures and systems will be established to enable all to lead and all to take accountability and responsibility for leadership over their own development as a learner, over their own classroom practices and over school wide systems, structures and policies. All of this is to ensure school success, student outcomes and teaching quality.
A means of achieving this is by clearly outlining the leadership roles each and every member of the Infinity School teaching and administrative staff will hold. In addition to teaching, learning, pastoral and administrative roles we propose that every member of staff will be part of,
- A named Infinity School Leadership Community, in order to collaboratively lead the school;
- A Design Community, in order to collaboratively lead curriculum, course and project design;
- A Continuing Professional Learning Pathway Community; and
- A Peer Coaching Triad, in order to lead their own professional development and aid in the collaborative development of classroom teaching practice.
The effectiveness of the above rests with all members of the Infinity School community, including student learners and parents. We will also create leadership responsibilities for learners, beyond clear expectations that all lead their own learning, and parents. By clearly highlighting that responsibility sits with all we seek to promote individual agency and self-efficacy alongside community values and a real sense that the success of individual learners and the school as a whole is in the hands of everyone acting collaboratively.
Infinity School Organisation
Infinity School will appoint a Director who will act, primarily, as the legal entity required by law, holding overall accountability for all aspects within the institution. We will appoint a Director rather than Principal or Headteacher as both labels denote hierarchy. The Director will not sit above others within decision making processes but will act in collaboration with other members of the Infinity Team: Learning Leadership group.
A Trust and Governing Body will be formed, representing the wider community and providing oversight on all aspects of Infinity School ranging from safeguarding to staffing and finance to standards. The governing body will have the key responsibility of holding the Director to account.
To support the smooth running of the school, to ensure every aspect of the school is lead and managed effectively and to facilitate Collaborative Leadership, Infinity School will be divided into 6 overlapping segments.
- Curriculum & Pedagogy
- Progress & Attainment
- Research, Innovation & Professional Development
- Culture & Climate
- Finance & Enterprise
Infinity School Leadership Communities (ISLC)
- Each of the 6 segments will be managed and led by an Infinity School Leadership Community e.g. Curriculum & Pedagogy ISLC.
- Each ISLC will be composed of members of the school community (Educators and Administrators).
- Each ISLC will nominate from within its own community a Chair to manage and formally represent the group.
- Each ISLC will work collaboratively to develop, embed, evaluate and enhance school wide systems, structures and policies.
- Each ISLC will have an associated Governor who will provide leadership and standards oversight.
- Each ISLC will be associated with a student and parent group who will work closely with the ISLC in an advisory role.
All staff will be a member of at least one ISLC. Staff will join a, ISLC for no less than one academic year based on
- Area of interest
- The results of a Strength-Finder assessment (completed annually)
- The results of an assessment against the Strengths-based Leadership Framework (relationship building-executing-strategic thinking-influencing) (completed annually)
Each team will be constructed to have a balance of strengths, interests and professional knowledge. Teams can change each year but 1-2 members will remain the same to facilitate institutional memory.
Each community will appoint an appropriate Chair who will receive a financial and time reward for the role. As chair they are responsible to the group and to the school community as a whole. their position as Chair is dependant upon their success, as viewed by the members of their ISLC and the wider school community.
As chair they will manage the group and provide strategic direction in collaboration with the 5 other chairs. Collectively the 6 chairs represent the Infinity Team: Learning Leadership (a model reflecting the manner in which learners are organised into collaborative learning and leadership units).
Infinity Team: Learning Leadership
- Composed of one Chair from each ISLC and the Director.
- The Team are responsible for bringing to the group the work of and having strategic oversight over their associated ISLC.
- Collectively the Team are responsible for ensuring that the work of each ISLC are in alignment with the mission, vision and values of the school.
- Each member of the Team act as a conduit between the Team and their associated ISLC.
- The Team have the authority to approve or send back for revision proposals from each ISLC.
- Chairing the Team will be the responsibility of the Director of Infinity School.
This model is in the developmental stages and we are keen to work with others within the wider community to explore and develop models of Collaborative Leadership which meet our ambitions for Infinity School.
If you would like to contribute to the development of this model please make contact with us at Infinity.