Seminar 1 – Thinking globally, ACTing locally towards the achievement of SDGs in education

The written report from this event can be found here.


Challenges facing the future of education – a global perspective, Tracey Burns

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Schools and teachers as agents of change for SDGs, Nataša Pantić

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Opportunities for research-informed school development, Barbara Dzieciatko

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Challenges facing the future of education – a global perspective, Tracey Burns

Did you ever wonder whether education has a role to play in preparing our societies for an age of artificial intelligence? Or what the impact of climate change might be on our schools, families and communities? Or what the shift in global economic power towards new countries will mean for education? Preparing for the future of education requires situating it within expected global economic, political, social and technological mega-trends. We must consider not only the future changes that appear most probable, but also the changes that we aren’t already expecting, and the many ways in which the world could be very different to the one we live in today. This means complementing trend analysis with a consideration of future changes that cannot yet be captured in data—such as the unprecedented digital transformation of the global economy and society. This presentation will use a set of trends to ask questions and stimulate reflection on the challenges facing the future of education – and on how and whether education can influence these trends.

Tracey Burns is a Senior Analyst in the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. She heads a portfolio of projects including Trends Shaping Education21st Century Children and Innovative Teaching for Effective Learning. Her most recent OECD publication is Educating 21st Century Children: Emotional Well-Being in the Digital Age. She was also responsible for the future thinking tool: Trends Shaping Education 2019. Previous to her time at the OECD she worked as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at The University of Britbia, and was an award-winning lecturer on infant and child development. Tracey holds a B.A. from McGill University, Canada, and an M.A. and Doctor of Philosophy in psychology from Northeastern University, USA.

Schools and teachers as agents of change for SDGs, Nataša Pantić

Teachers and schools are increasingly called upon to act as Agents of Change. For example Scottish Curriculum for Excellence positions teachers as ‘prime agents of educational change’. This presentation will introduce the meaning and rationale for developing teacher agency for change. In particular, I will consider the purposes of change and collaboration as essential elements of teacher agency in relation to the United Nations SDG 4:  Ensure inclusive and quality education for all which urges all countries to provide quality education for all learners, because education is a human right as well as an important means of achieving other important rights. I will invite the participants to consider implication for developing a collective agency for change within the school communities.

Nataša Pantić is a Lecturer at University of Edinburgh, School of Education, with expertise in educational change, school and policy factors that affect teachers’ practices, and teacher education. She has published extensively in these and other areas, including citizenship and education governance. Recently, she has used social network analysis to study relational agency and collaboration in education settings. Previously, she has completed a Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, PhD at Utrecht University, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, and worked as a researcher with the Centre for Education Policy in Belgrade.

Opportunities for research-informed school development, Barbara Dzieciatko 

Implementing and leading change in schools relies on professional communities in which staff can  share knowledge and support, often referred to as a communities of practice (CoPs). Research suggests that collegial networks help teachers engage in innovative practice, especially when they come together to solve problems for students’ learning. My doctoral research project ‘Making Sense of Teachers’ Communities of Practice with Social and Epistemic Network Analysis’ studies the formation of CoPs aiming to understand how knowledge is shared amongst practitioners; and how participation in a community influences individual practice and sense-making. In this presentation I will consider how research could support school change efforts by facilitating collaboration and reflection around issues that matter to staff, and ultimately their students.  Barbara Dzieciatko is a former teacher in Scotland with 5 years of experience. She is a current full-time PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education and Sport funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. She is dedicated to educational research and its potential to inform improved experiences for teachers and students.


9.45 – 10.00       Setting up the session and checking that participants have access

10.00 – 10.15     Welcome by moderators Nataša Pantić & Daisy Abbott

10.15 – 11.00     Challenges facing the future of education – a global perspective, Tracey Burns

11.00 – 11.30     Schools and teachers as agents of change for SDGs, Nataša Pantić

11.30 – 12.00    Discussion: ACToolkit – Aims and development

12.00– 12.30      Opportunities for research-informed school development, Barbara Dzieciatko 

12.30 –  12.45     Concluding remarks and next steps 

Event information

  • Date – 17th March 2020
  • Time – 09:45 – 13:00
  • Venue – University of Edinburgh, St Leonard’s Land, Room G4, Holyrood Rd, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ

Now online! Please check your registration email for a link to the online environment.

Opportunities and challenges for whole-school approaches to Learning for Sustainability headteachers’ perspective, Anna Hazel-Dunn and Rebecca Favier

A candid conversation (powerpoint free!) between two head teachers at different stages in the journey towards creating a whole school approach to Learning for Sustainability. The session offers ample opportunity for you to discuss and shape the narrative throughout. Anna Hazel-Dunn is Head Teacher at Royal High Primary School. A passionate believer in the value of progressive education, Anna brings with her experience in managing change in different contexts and ensuring all learners enjoy rewarding and transformative learning experiences. She is joined in conversation by Rebecca Favier; thinker, explorer and wanderer. Vulnerable- don’t have all the answers- very much on a journey- initial premise based on my current, ever flawed thinking. We’re not oracles! Were not experts but we’re to spark debate, raise questions and maybe even a few eyebrows! Structure of the seminar: 6 questions- AHD poses question chat and consider then we will discuss.

Learning for Sustainability – whole-school approaches

A school leader’s perspective on planning, implementing, evaluating change related to SDGs in Scotland will present practitioners’ perspectives on the kind of needs that ACToolkit could address

Programme background info

Schools are recognised as important arenas for addressing pressing issues such as inequalities or climate change, for example through the Scottish Government strategies for closing the poverty-related attainment gap of learning for sustainability. Our programme develops ACToolkit to facilitate teachers’ and schools acting as agents of change towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ACToolkit will be designed to help educators a) build SDGs related targets in their development plans; b) identify relevant knowledge and network with players within and beyond schools to consider solutions; and c) evaluate their impact.       

Underlying research shows that teachers can and do act as agents of change when they work flexibly with various others to support the learning and wellbeing of all students and protect the vulnerable ones. ACToolkit will draw on cases of innovative practice to develop a ‘serious game’ (i.e. a game that has an educational as well as entertaining purpose), to help school staff engage in planning, implementing and evaluating change towards the achievement of SDGs. ACToolkit aims to enable an accessible, structured and engaging way of thinking through the whole-school approaches incorporating research and theories of change into schools’ self-evaluation and development activities, such as Whole-setting and community approach to learning for sustainability.

Game-based learning has considerable potential for efficient delivery of both knowledge and behavioural outcomes. Potential users and experts from Scotland and internationally will co-design a game for teachers and other school staff and leaders who are key for planning, implementing and evaluating change towards the achievement of SDG at different levels.

The programme is supported by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, including 2 seminars to consider research on teacher agency for change, and on educational potential of game-based learning, and 4 practical workshops to co-design the ACToolkit together with various stakeholders, including teachers, school leaders and policy makers at different levels. ACToolkit will include rules for how to use the game as well as step-by-step guide that outlines its potential uses for planning, implementing and evaluating change towards SDGs.

Our hope is that the toolkit will be used in professional development, as well as incorporated in different course units, such as the Edinburgh Futures Institute module on social change and agency. The toolkit will be disseminated to potential users from different Scottish and international networks of Continuing Professional Development providers and other organisations, such as OECD, Regional Improvement Cooperatives and Learning for Sustainability Scotland. For those schools that express interest in using the Toolkit we will also seek to provide opportunities for research-informed support, for example by working collaboratively with researchers, or with students on relevant courses who can help design and implement change with support from tutors