Centre for Educational Research and Innovation - CERI

Innovative Pedagogies for Powerful Learning - Networks


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We have circulated a questionnaire to networks we have identified which are taking an innovative approach to teaching, learning and pedagogy. It is our main research tool in this phase of the IPPL project for gathering information from these networks on their pedagogical innovations and how their organisation/network operates. Section B of the questionnaire explicitly builds on the IPPL C’s framework along with other key issues such as 21st century competences and the role of technology.



1. Networks of Inquiry and Innovation (Canada)

In 2000, with the support of a provincial grant, educators from thirty-four schools in British Columbia came together to explore using learning progressions in literacy, social responsibility and numeracy to deepen learner agency. This developed into a province-wide network of schools focusing on four big ideas: learner metacognition, nimble and responsive teaching, inquiry mindedness as a way of life, and learning for all through networks. The original network has now evolved into a wider range of inquiry and innovation networks with different foci but all using a disciplined, evidence-informed approach to collaborative inquiry (the “spiral of inquiry”).


2. Innova Schools (Peru)

Innova Schools is a Peruvian private school network with (in 2017) 41 schools, 32,000 students and 2,000 teachers, school leaders and administrators, Innova Schools was founded in 2004 and its mission is to create an intelligent, ethical and inspired generation of students to build the future leadership of Peru. To fulfil that mission, their approach revolves around four key practices: putting students at the centre of the learning process and of the system, focusing on 21st century skills, early childhood education, and reshaping student-teacher interactions.


3. Galileo (Canada)

Rocky View School Division established the Galileo Centre in 1996 within Banded Peak School in Bragg Creek, Alberta. The success of this initiative in establishing new images of teaching and learning led to the creation of the Galileo Educational Network in 1999, a provincial professional learning and research network with a focus on technology implementation. Since then, the mandate has expanded and today the Galileo Educational Network creates, promotes, and disseminates innovative teaching and learning practices through research, professional learning, and networking locally and internationally.


4. H2O Program (Hungary)

In 2000 Hejőkeresztúr school implemented the Complex Instruction (CI) program to boost pupils learning performance and enhance children’s behaviour and motivation. CI was developed at Stanford University and the school adapted the method to Hungarian circumstances over a three-year period to create the Hungarian CI, called Komplex Instrukciós Program (KIP). In 2009, dissemination of KIP began and in 2017 71 schools, 15 000 pupils and 1400 teachers belong to the network.


5. ECOLOG (Austria)

ECOLOG, is an action programme and network for the greening of schools and promoting education for sustainability. It was developed in 1996 by a team of Austrian teachers in the international project Environment and School Initiatives (ENSI). It is a national support system with the aim of promoting an ecological approach in individual schools and of influencing Austria’s federal states towards this approach through regional networks. Overall coordination is ensured by the Institute of Instructional and School Development at the University of Klagenfurt in partnership with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education.


6. Senza Zaino (Italy)

“Senza Zaino. Per una Scuola Comunità” (Without Backpack for a Community School) started in Lucca (Tuscany) in 2002. The Senza Zaino project substitutes a small bag for the heavy school backpack because all the classrooms are provided with functional furniture and tools to implement innovative strategies and methods. Every classroom has different work areas with large tables, where students can work individually, in pairs, in groups or with the teacher. The layout also allows students to do different tasks simultaneously in the multipurpose classroom.


7. International Step by Step Association (International)

The Association builds on the collective experience of some of its current member organisations who implemented in the mid-1990s the early childhood education reform project 'Step by Step' (SbS) launched by the Open Society Foundations in 15 countries in Central Europe and Eurasia. The programme introduced child-centred practices, social inclusion, and community and family-based approached through a series of pilots in public kindergartens and primary schools. The Step by Step Programme supported the development of preschool and school networks implementing innovative approached and practices in each country (in some being described as an 'alternative' programme).


8. ESCXEL – Schools of excellence (Portugal)

The ESCXEL Project is a network based on a partnership between the public schools of eight municipalities (in 2017, with 32 clusters covering 166 schools and nearly 60,000  students), their local authorities, and CICS.NOVA. CICS.NOVA is an interdisciplinary research centre in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL). ESCXEL’s main goal is to promote reflection about pedagogical practices and their results in a collaborative learning process through such means as good practice dissemination, results analysis, and discussions in schools.


9. Network of Innovation Schools (Estonia)

This network was established in cooperation between the University of Tartu and leading schools and kindergartens in Estonia. It shares the results of educational research, develops and tests innovative methods of teaching and learning, assessment, and professional learning. The network aims to bridge theory and practice through communities in which schools and the university are equal members. They benefit from each other’s strengths: the university colleagues address practice-related problems and solutions and the school colleagues improve their scientific thinking and become involved in collaborative educational research.


10. E-Norssi (Finland)

eNorssi in Finnish stands for the network of Finnish Teacher Training Schools. It was founded in 2000 to encourage cooperation within teacher education but then expanded its mission to become a resource centre for all Finnish schools. The close relationship between theory and practice forms the basis for teacher education, ensuring that educational theory can be applied in practice. Strengthening the connections between the teacher training schools, departments of teacher education and other university departments allows student teachers to start apply theoretical knowledge from early in their studies.


11. Amara Berri (Spain)

Amara Berri is a network of currently (2017) 21 schools with a core located in the Basque region of Spain plus several schools in other parts of the country. It dates from the late 1970s in a school where teachers developed a systemic pedagogical approach putting the learner in the centre and stressing creativity, active pedagogy, socialization, play, freedom and globalism. Children are organized according to their interests and needs rather than age, and teachers often work together in the same group. In 1990, the regional authority declared the first school of the network an ‘innovative school’ and since then professionals work to support schools interested in implementing the Amara Berri approach.


12. Lighthouse (Finland)

The Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) invited the education directors from the ten biggest municipalities in Finland to form a school development network in 2014 to introduce new pedagogies, working culture and learning environments as part of the new basic education core curriculum. The response was very positive. Other main network goals were to improve cooperation between the national and the local educational strategies and to implement more research-based initiatives. There is no money on the table; the sustainability of the network is based on the benefits gained from  cooperation and mutual support. At present (2017), there are 50 municipalities and more than 260 schools involved.


13. Studio Schools (United Kingdom)

Established in 2009, the Studio Schools Trust developed the Studio School model. It is a facilitation and development organisation that links Studio Schools, enabling the sharing of practice and providing advice and curriculum support. Since its founding 36 Studio Schools have opened across England, with further projects in development. The Studio School model embraces academic excellence; employability and enterprise skills in a special CREATE skills framework; personalised curriculum; project-based learning and work with employers in the classroom; regular work placements for all students; small schools; and catering for diverse abilities.


14. Lumiar Institute International (Brazil)

The first Lumiar School was set up in Sao Paulo in 2002 by the Semco Foundation (now renamed Ralston-Semler), an organisation that promotes innovative educational, cultural and environmental projects in Brazil. The school was privately funded with around half the students receiving financial support, with 25% of them receiving full scholarships. There are now eight Luminar Schools (five in Brazil, two in the UK and one in Holland) for children from 2 to 15 years old, with a number of new schools in additional countries in development for 2018. The pedagogical approach embodies six main principles: multi-age grouping, specific roles for tutors and expert teachers, the mosaic curriculum, formative evaluation, inquiry-based learning and participative management.


15. Second Chance Schools (France/Spain)

In the context of implementing the White Paper “Teaching and Learning: towards the learning society” (1995), the European Commission launched the “Second Chance Schools (E2C)” pilot projects in 1997. The main aim of these pilot projects was to offer education and training to young people who lack the skills and qualifications necessary to find a job or fully benefit from conventional training. In France the first experience took place in Marseille in 1998 and then the network expands to other regions. Nowadays the network of E2C in France is composed of 49 schools, and their students show a 62% of success in finding jobs or further training, whereas in Spain the network is being created by a leading group of 6 organisations that group 22 E2C schools. ESC schools base their approach in strong individualization programs, motivation and the acquisition of useful skills and competences.


16. New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (International)

New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) is a global partnership dedicated to identifying new pedagogies that foster the development of deep learning competencies, and to establishing new measures of student progress and success. The initiative began in 2013 and its approach is currently put into practice in seven countries and some 900 schools. NPDL is focused on new pedagogies which engage students in meaningful, relevant and real-life learning experiences and which facilitate deep learning. This is understood as learning that engages students in the mastery of academic content, the creation of new knowledge, and the development of deep learning competencies.


17.  Innovative Schools Network (Japan)

Japan Innovative Schools Network (ISN) originated from the success of “OECD Tohoku School” project in 2015, and is a public-private consortium located at the Graduate School of Public Policy, the University of Tokyo. It applies ‘active learning’ in the global context, including project and inquiry based learning, and aims at fostering 21st century skills. Schools in ISN are assembled in six “core clusters” in which schools collaborate in common projects as well as “voluntary clusters” which contains innovative oriented schools. With the key word "Global Project-based learning", each school / cluster is required to study regional and global issues through projects solved by students for regional revitalization. Currently there are three thematic challenges in ISN: Think Green (environmental issues, green worth, etc.); Skills supply & demand (creating new jobs, innovating local industries), and Go Global (diversity, migration, globalization).


18. A New Direction (UK)

A New Direction (AND) was formed nearly 10 years ago from the four regional London delivery organisations for Creative Partnerships (CP). AND is a charity with the mission of ensuring that all children and young people in London have access to high quality arts and culture and works with schools, the cultural sector, employers, young people, and in local areas. We work with a wide range of teachers from schools focusing on: 1, understanding of and commitment to the value of arts, culture and creativity in education; 2, cross-curricular learning, project based learning and using the arts beyond arts subjects; 3, willingness to try new things and take risks; and 4, desire to continually develop and improve their practice and their offer to their students. 


19. Escuela Nueva (Colombia/International)

Escuela Nueva is an educational model designed during the 70s to improve the quality, relevance and effectiveness of Colombian schools. This model scaled up from the local to the national during the 80s, as a wider model of school innovation for more than 24.000 rural schools. Later on a Federation was created to ensure the integrity and implementation of the model, and to further innovate it and make it flexible enough for its use in urban areas and other countries. Their model revolves around four main principles: collaborative learning, personalized teaching, comprehensive approach and constructivism. Given his long track record and experience, the Federation of Escuela Nueva also gives advice at the national and international level. In 2001 they developed a particular approach to address the most vulnerable people. In 2017, Escuela Nueva its being implemented in 17 countries.


20. Whole Education (UK)

Whole Education emerged in 2010 as an independent, not for profit organisation with the aim of ensuring that all young people have access to a ‘whole education’. Whole Education is a dynamic, nation-wide, partnership of schools
and organisations committed to redefining today’s educational offering, as a response to a growing concern about the pressure placed on schools, by the school system, to create ‘exam factories’, which came at the expense of preparing young people for the modern world . We believe that all children deserve
an engaging and rounded education that supports academic achievement, but also develops the skills, knowledge and qualities needed to flourish in life, learning and work.


21. Creative Partnerships (UK)

Creative Partnerships (CP) was launched in 2002 by the Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) international learning foundation, and grew quickly until, by 2008, it was operating in 2,500 schools across England each year. The programme was designed to develop the creative skills of young people, raising their aspirations and achievements, and opening up more opportunities for their futures. It supported thousands of innovative, long term partnerships between schools, artists and other creative professional.  In particular, CP focusses on supporting teachers to develop high-functioning learning environments within which pupils develop their creative skills and are physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually engaged.  The programme ended in England 2011 and CCE now supports the implementation of creative learning programmes across the globe in 8 countries.


22. RCE Rhine-Meuse / OPEDUCA Project (Netherlands/International)

The RCE Rhine-Meuse is a ‘Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development’, and alliance that constitutes of schools, industry, regional governmental organisations and science organisations. The relevance and impact of the RCE lies in the joint effort to innovate and structurally reform education (on all levels) in order to contribute to the creation of learning processes that enable and empower the young generation. The joint construction of a Vision let to a transition program referred to as ‘The OPEDUCA Project’. This project integrates a whole range of pedagogical practices such as inquiry-, problem- and community-based learning to develop skills in the field of Entrepreneurship Education, Environmental Education, Technology Education and Citizenship Education, eventually basing schooling form primary up to and including higher education on Education for Sustainable Development.


23. Computing at Schools (UK)

The Computing at School (CAS) is a grass roots organisation that aims to promote the teaching of computer science at school. CAS was born out of a serious concern that many students are being turned off computing by a combination of factors that have conspired to make the subject seem dull and pedestrian. CAS supports teachers of Computing in both primary and secondary schools, primarily in England but also across the UK.  Much of the training and support provided through the CAS Community focuses on subject knowledge of computer science.  Pedagogy plays a part but is not the dominant need for the majority in our schools.  Much of the pedagogy arises out of the activity or learning tool being used by the teacher.  For example, many have found the ‘unplugged’ approach to be a good way in for both themselves and their students. Other main projects are the Teach London Computing, physical computing and programming using tools such as Scratch and Python.


24. Red Escuelas Líderes (Chile)

This is a network of schools with good practices in deprived contexts, aiming both to achieve excellence and a comprehensive development of the students. Now 100 schools are members of the network. It started in 2007 with some publications regarding innovation in education in complex contexts. In that year, an initiative was launched to identify and make visible the work of those schools leading the implementation of innovative practices. The goal was also to fuel the interchange and the cooperative work among these schools and promote that other schools follow these experiences.


25.  Art of Learning (Scotland)

The Art of Learning project is taking place in eleven primary schools in Ayrshire, South West Scotland. The hypothesis of the Art of Learning project is that an arts rich, creative learning program, delivered intensively in schools over a number of months can have a positive impact on the development of creativity skills, executive functions and attainment in children, particularly those living in poverty and ultimately, can contribute to closing the attainment gap. The project works through a partnership involving eleven primary schools, eleven professionals, Education Scotland, Creative Scotland and Creativity, Culture and Education. For teachers, the project aims at developing a deeper understanding of creativity skills and executive functions and how they support learning, whereas for learners it represent an increased opportunity to develop their creativity skills and executive functions through arts based activities.


26. Amico Robot (Italy)

The network ‘Amico Robot’ was born in 2007, after the first ‘Educational Robotics’ Festival in Lombardy, although by the end of the 90s several schools have experimented with robotics. The network started with a pedagogical approach based on ‘learning-by-doing’ through the building and programming of robots. The network is active in participating in projects coming from diverse academic and cultural institutions as well as the Schools of Robotics of Genoa. From 2014 the network organized seminars to reflect and share experiences, with the participation of teachers, university students and researchers. Currently, 12 middle and high schools take part in the network and are also collaborating with the ministry of education with the drafting of a curricular plan revolving on educational robotics.


27. Better Movers and Thinkers (Scotland)

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in 2015 by the Scottish Education authorities to supporting children and young people who reside in the areas with the highest concentrations of deprivation. The SAC particularly focuses on literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing through a range of evidence-based practice and selective interventions. The Better Movers and Thinkers (BMT) approach represents an evolution in physical education designed to develop the ability of all children and young people to move and think in a more cohesive way, with a specific focus on developing, enhancing and fostering Executive Function (EF) skills within the learning process. Executive Functions provide essential tools that support learners to access optimal learning, acting as a mechanism that accurately and consistently guides the cognitive processes towards the intended outcome. Fife Council’s Education and Learning Directorate has recently adopted BMT as a core pedagogical approach to achieving the improvements highlighted in its physical education, activity and sport plan.   


Click here to see the questionnaire used by networks to provide the information.



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