Designing The Infinity School Model

principlesDesigning The Infinity School Model

The Pedagogical Core: 

The key elements of an effective pedagogical core at the heart of an effective school model is the relationship between,

  • learners,

  • content,

  •  educators, and

  • resources.

These areas are present in all schools yet the relationship between them is not always considered deeply enough when designing the the structures and systems of both the learning environment and the experience of learning. In many cases each of the above areas are taken for granted and only once activated evidence found to justify the forms they have taken.

We at Infinity work from the evidence base up, looking first to examples of best practice to shape these four elements of a school system.

Infinity sees Learners in the traditional sense but also views teachers and parents as learners to. As such we will build structures to ensure these learners are catered for by Infinity School. Such structures include our Advisory, our Leadership Communities and our research pathways.

Infinity sees Content (knowledge, competences, attributes and values) from the perspective of interdisciplinary and real-world contexts. For us teaching a prescribed content, often out of sync with the needs of both learner and the wider community, is irrelevant and of limited value to all concerned. Valuable content is that which is real-world, of worth to both the learner and society and applicable in the context of the liberated lifelong-lifewide learner; of use across ones life. We will still ensure learner competencies in crucial foundational knowledge and skills, in particular hinge concepts which underpin both deep and broad knowledge construction. Content will be organised around Core Concepts and themes all of which will act as an umbrella for the design of challenging problems for learners to engage with actively rather than being the passive recipients of ‘The knowledge’. In this manner Content will be dynamic, adapting in its form as a learners academic and social skills mature.

Infinity sees Educators as including subject experts, advisors, parents and volunteers. Infinity will provide an innovative education through utilising as many people as possible in the role of the educator. This will supplement the core staff of Advisors and Experts with a more day to day role of leading and facilitating learning. Educators within Infinity will work collaboratively designing and delivering the curriculum as they see fit while adhering to strict principles of rigour and collaborative problem solving. This empowerment of teachers benefits teachers as professionals and with that the learners. This is what we refer to as ‘Educators as Designers’.

Infinity sees Resources (the materials of activating and supporting effective learning) as being diverse in nature and scope. Digital resources will be used to support our Blended Learning approach and to enable a learning anywhere anytime culture. For us resources include the ever widening community. We will call upon the community, parents and carers in particular, to become resources for learning, supporting in and out of school learning such as getting involved in project work and providing internships. We will also ensure we offer innovative learning spaces, which we call Hubs, each of which will offer a different way of supporting learning. Learners will not sit at a desk all day, going to the same room at the same time each week for the same lesson. Fluidity in timings, pedagogy and schedules and personalised approaches to learning will be facilitated through the existence of a variety of differing learning spaces; places to work on your own, work in groups, to make, to design and to perform.


The Pedagogical Core of an Infinity Education 

ILE 2

Developed from Innovative Learning Environments, (2013), Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing

Connecting the key elements together is the ongoing relationship between Pedagogy and Organisation. Within the Core the OECD CERI organisation identify the intrinsic features of,

  1. Learner grouping;
  2. Innovative pedagogical options;
  3. Rescheduling learning time; and
  4. Teacher grouping.

With respects to feature 1 we at Infinity will organise learners into a variety of groups of varying sizes beginning with the truly mixed ability unit of 6, the Infinity Team. Learners will be organised within and between groupings depending on learning need (Master Classes), lesson structure (Advisory) and a students interest (Exploratory).

With respects to feature 2 we at Infinity will predominantly apply inquiry-based, tech-rich models of pedagogy which will ebb and flow between individual (intrapersonal) and  collaborative (interpersonal) learning. A strong application of formative feedback and feedforward, undertaken by subject experts, advisors and students alike will drive forward learning. The key for us is not to have a stagnant one size fits all pedagogy but to shift pedagogies from subject to subject, problem to problem and from learner to learner.

A strong application of formative feedback and feedforward, undertaken by subject experts, advisors and students alike will drive forward learning.

With respects to feature 3 we at Infinity will utilise flexible timetabling. In many schools a timetable is presented to a student at the start of the academic year and this remains unchanged. We will not apply such a schedule, instead a students schedule will be personalised, fluid and negotiated between advisor, learner and parent. Schedules will be reviewed every 1/2 term with students gaining a variety of experiences while ensuring the optimum use of time for that child’s learning. To further this we will use a Blended Leaning approach with some learning activities face to face within the learning spaces and others online, thus enabling students to move forward at their own pace and making best use of the time available to them. To anchor a fluid schedule in systems we will observe a number of ‘Rituals’ such as starting the day with Wellbeing and Personal Study sessions, ending extended projects with a showcase of learning, ending the week with assemblies and ending the year with Graduation.

With respects to feature 4 we at Infinity will provide a unique approach to teaching and support for each learner. Through the Advisory system a small group of teachers will become experts in the individual needs of the year group. To further this as the cohort of learners move up through the school their advisors will go with them. The Advisor is much more than a traditional school tutor with them taking a highly active role in guiding individual learning within all subject areas and especially though Advisory projects. For a period of a 1/2 term an Advisor will be paired with another teacher, a Subject Expert, with whom they will develop and deliver learning activities. This enables learners to experience collaborative teaching and relationships and will provide teachers with a supportive professional environment. Each team will vary from activity to activity, but each learner will know that the seventh member of their Infinity Team is their Advisor.


Learning Leadership, Design, Evaluation, and Feedback:

ILE 3

Developed from Innovative Learning Environments, (2013), Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing.

Driving the pedagogical core in perpetual motion are the 3 motivators, Learning Leadership, Information & Evidence and Learning itself. As the diagram below highlights the role of these motivators is to inform the next; this is central to a formative and innovative learning environment such as that being proposed by Infinity. Knowledge is central to learning. Knowing where you are, where you have come from shapes where you need to go as a learner and as an organisation.

We will develop highly innovative means of capturing, recording and measuring learning to inform next steps. Through the use of learning logs and e-portfolios learners will not only be able to recognise and record their own progress but will be able to share these achievements with a wider audience, especially parents and carers. This will also be a feature of teacher work which will, in terms of plans and expectations, be shared online with a wide audience. Transparency is a feature of democracy and as an organisation which promotes the values of liberation, transparency of all we do will be central to the experience of an Infinity Education. Engaging with research will enhance the overall provision offered by Infinity. As advocates of the learning sciences and engaging in research at varying levels, a research informed and engaged culture will permeate throughout Infinity.

Leadership is essential to direct change and we see leadership which is truly ‘learning’ as being collaborative and democratic. This is why we will involve learners, parents, carers and teachers in the process of running the school. Democracy, voice and choice, will be palpable at every level of the school. One especially innovative feature will be our application of a Collaborative Leadership Model.

What is important about this model is the manner in which Learning Leadership feeds directly back into the role undertaken by the facilitating Educators. Subsequently, informed and guided, Educators make choices about the application of Resources and observe, measure and assess the impact upon Learners with this feeding into our robust systems of Information and Evidence collection and analysis. Thus the cycle begins again.


Extending Capacity Through Partnerships

A further feature of the innovative learning environment being designed by Infinity are those commonly overlooked by traditional school models, learning relationships with an ever widening community. We will foster partnerships with higher education institutions, in particular universities, colleges, companies, organisations and cultural institutions locally and globally. Such relationships will both support the pedagogical core but also offer support and guidance to our learning leadership.  Relationships of this nature will be central to our ability to offer effective Internships as part of the Infinity Baccalaureate and to offer the real-world audiences for our authentic learning experiences.

Partnerships with families and the community are key. We want to be a true community school, open and transparent where we are of benefit to as much as benefit from those around us. Again such relationships will both support the pedagogical core and offer support and guidance to our learning leadership.

A final grouping of relationships can be drawn around us and other learning environments. We want to work with and not against other institutions of learning, primary and secondary, across the local, national and global educational landscape. We wish to work closely with other schools to help build an innovative leaning environment in more than just our own context.

ILE4

Developed from Innovative Learning Environments, (2013), Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing.