I'm Peter Barnard, former high-school teacher, school principal, author, trainer, researcher, grower of fruit and veg, and school system developer.

 

For the past 25 years, I have been lucky enough to work with practitioners from international schools, private schools, and public schools of all kinds. These are school leaders who have reflected on their management systems and concluded that no matter how hard they work, their same-age or year system fails to respond to the effort put in. All are convinced they can do better and feel that the form of organisation they uae acts as an obstruction to individual and organisational learning besides damaging participant wellbeing. They are unsure about what is systemically wrong and how to correct it and want answers.

My role is to help schools reflect on how their school operates  (deconstruction) and show how to change their system so that it functions for all participant players (staff, students, and parents). 

The same-age or grade system now 180 years old and in near-universal use was never intended for an emergent and joined-up world. It was designed to separate people, limit learning, and maintain class-based structures, something the system continues to do uninterupted. It is a system beset by communication, resourcing, and values issues where any attempt at reform only reifies the  existing system. The research is clear. Same-age groups not only promote bullying but are out of synch with social psychology, cognition, and child development. In complex western societies, we are witnessing the collateral damage (separation and limitation) caused by an addiction to the same-age hypothesis.  Schools require ever more add-ons and fixes (pro-social programmes) and are reliant on the single idea that all that matters is the teacher in the classroom rather than a fully integrated staff, student, parent learning and support system .

The central purposes of VT are as follows: 

  • Liberate management

  • Distribute and share leadership

  • Create new information pathways and learning networks (complexify)

  • Build an  empathetic culture of learning

  • Improve learning relationships and wellbeing among staff, students, and parents

  • Enable staff, involve parents, and ensure that all children feel they belong and are supported

  • Change assessment and reporting to improve communication..