4 Design Principles shaping an Infinity education
Underpinning all aspects of the Infinity School model are 4 Design Principles, each of which has been created following an extensive engagement with research into the most effective schools systems internationally.
Principle 1: Personalisation
By being acutely sensitive to individual differences, including prior knowledge, we will promote voice, choice and ownership over all aspects of a learner’s development. The curriculum will be highly attuned to learners’ motivations and the importance of emotions and wellbeing. Personal relationships between educators, learners and the wider community are fundamental to learning. An Infinity education is one which is owned and shaped by learners, not a thing done to them with no consideration of their needs, wants, passions, hopes or dreams.
We will achieve this through
- The sustained application of an approach to education we call the Advisory
- Prioritising student equity, voice and choice
- An application of Personalised Learning Plans
- Explicitly addressing Wellbeing
- Thoughtful use of learning spaces and learning hubs
Principle 2: Authenticity
To fully enable Personalisation an education must possess Authenticity.
The purpose, process and products of learning will be authentic, real and of benefit to an ever wider community, beginning with the individual learner. The curriculum will replicate the real world, its concepts and its problems. Learners will tackle the problems they see in the world and tackle these in meaningful and beneficial ways. The curriculum will promote horizontal connectedness across activities, areas of knowledge and subjects and will not be bound in tight subject silos. Authenticity also recognises the need to become exam ready as well as world ready. As such the curriculum will be underpinned by a lattice of subject specific knowledge, concepts and skills to ensure a rigorous academic Core is present throughout all learning experiences. Authenticity also extends to assessment. The model of assessment within Infinity is authentic as it observes, recognises and rewards that which is authentically valuable to educators, learners and to the wider community. This is articulated throughout our Infinity Baccalaureate.
We will achieve this through
- An Authentic curriculum; The Infinity Baccalaureate
- The use of Authentic Assessment
- A culture of Community engagement
- Real-world Internships
- The use of London as our classroom
Principle 3: Educator as designer
Authenticity and true Personalisation are only realised when the professional expertise of educators is fully activated.
Off the peg, generic and annually repeated curriculum can not offer true personalisation or authentic experiences. Dynamism requires the freedom and agency of educators. Working within interdisciplinary teams, educators will have the creative freedom to lead the development and delivery of the curriculum. Their own interest and passions will be shared with learners as they take learners on a journey with them, learning together as equals. We at infinity recognise that for this to be realised a high degree of support is required. As such our approach to Continuous Professional Learning, the provision of daily planning and reflection time and significant opportunities to engage with enquiry, research and innovation will provide educators with the capacity to create the curriculum. We will enable all the opportunity to lead learning, ensuring high degrees of accountability, responsibility and creativity through the systems and structures woven through Infinity as a learning organisation.
We will achieve this through
- An application of Collaborative Leadership
- A real-world application of interdisciplinarity
- An application of a CPL model which establishes a sustainable culture of research engaged and informed practice
- Daily collaborative planning, teaching and reflection opportunities
Principle 4: A Common Intellectual Mission
For the above to be realised, a system of education, and all those within it, must be guided by a Common Intellectual Mission.
A culture of affective and effective education must be founded upon a firm foundation of robust philosophical principles, upon evidence derived from the learning sciences, upon recognised systems of global best practice within education and upon a boundless passion for impactful, inclusive learning for all individuals. From such a Common Intellectual Mission can be derived, articulated and lived by all that are part of the community. Learning will be central, encourage engagement, and will be where learners come to understand themselves as active self-regulated learners, individuals and members of a community. Learning is to be demanding for each learner but without excessive overload, as this is how we one can make progress as an individual. By ensuring that learning is social in nature learners will engage predominantly in collaborative problem design and problem solving. Teaching will be rigorous and highly supportive to ensure high academic outcomes for all learners, no matter their starting point. All learners will have opportunities to develop the skills, attributes and capacities to master their own learning, lifelong-lifewide. In short our learners will become liberated.
We will achieve this through
- The unique application of ‘Infinity Teams’
- An application of Collaborative Group Learning
- Highly personal and dynamic formative feedback
- Master classes which ensure subject specific knowledge and skills are developed
- Emphasising the Purpose, Process and Products of learning to aid metacognition
- Ensuring exam, college, university and above all life readiness through pragmatic reheasrsal
Where have these principles come from?
A formative publication has been the 2016 ‘100 Tips and Insights for Opening Great Schools’ produced by the Getting Smarter organisation (CLICK ME). We at Infinity found this publication a useful starting point when considering the steps needed to build structure and culture.
The guide provided by Getting Smarter was supplemented with the principles promoted by the Innovation Unit and its School Design Lab. The comprehensive Design Modules created by the XQ Super School Project took our thinking further. The Modules include
Going into more depth in terms of practice we at Infinity used the publication, Seeing the Future, written by Rob Riordan, Barbara Roche, Hilary Goldhammer and David Stephen. This publication has influenced a wide range of schooling models within America and the UK and is particularly associated with the model of education provided by High Tech High.
Much work around effective school design has been undertaken within the US but we were keenly aware that what may work in North America may not be viable in the UK.
As such one of our team travelled to the States on a month long research trip during which they immersed themselves in the innovative models of education provided by organisations such as Summit Schools, High Tech High and Big Picture Learning. This invaluable study visit has enabled us to identify what can be taken, at a structural, cultural and systems level, and applied to the UK context. Similarly the teams work in Sweden, Finland, Macedonia, South Korea, Romania and Mexico provide us with first hand insights into elements of systems that can be translated into new innovative and effective models here in the UK.
In addition to the above the most influential publication, shaping our Design Principles, is the OECD funded research and publication into Innovative Learning Environments and Systems. A number of these publications can be found here (CLICK ME), with the most influential paper for us at Infinity being the Innovative Learning Environments publication of 2013.
Through ‘The Nature of Learning’ project, undertaken by the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (2010), leading international researchers investigated varying perspectives on learning and what they suggested about the design of learning environments. From this research a number of “learning principles” were identified, proposing the tenets of a highly effective learning environment. This demanding design agenda will be fulfilled by Infinity School in full, as we, in accordance with the OECD’s recommendations, believe that truly Innovative Learning Environments must adhere to all these ‘principles’ and not just a cherry picked and ‘easy’ select few.
For the many schools and classrooms who currently do not meet these principles, this constitutes a significant challenge. Infinity School has been designed from the outset inline with these 4 Learning Principles thus ensuring that an Infinity Education, unlike the average UK education, will be one which meets the standards of a globally recognised Innovative Learning Environment.