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Lucy Crehans: Five Principles for High-Performing, Equitable Education Systems

Principle 1: Get Children Ready for Formal Learning
Enhance children's social and pre-academic skills through rich environments and playful learning before age six, rather than requiring specific academic outcomes from them.

Principle 2: Design Curricula Concepts for Mastery (Context for Motivation)
A good national/provincial curriculum should be:
Minimal - Focusing on fewer topics, but in greater depth.
High-level - Clear on what concepts and skills are required, without prescribing context or pedagogy.
Ordered - Organising concepts in a logical order, based on research into how children learn.

Principle 3: Support Children to Take On challenges, Rather than Making Concessions
Delay selecting children into different schools based on ability until age 15 or 16.
Teach children in a mixed ability classes until 15-16.
Provide small, flexible group support from qualified professional before/after lessons.

Principle 4: Treat Teachers as Professionals
Require prospective teacher to undergo a rigorous teacher training programme of at least a year, which is recognised by a professional body and includes the study of pedagogical content knowledge.
Ensure newly-qualified teachers have a reduced teaching load and time with a dedicated mentor who also has a reduced load. Encourage teachers to plan and evaluate lessons in small teams, so that all teacher are pedagogically supported and learn from one another.

Principle 5: Combine School Accountability with School Support (Rather Than Sanctions):
Monitor school performance at a local or national level using school-level data or irregular national assessments.
Make use of or create a network of successful former school leaders, to visit schools regularly and provide practicing school leaders with advice, support, and connections.
Incentivize demonstrably good teachers and middle leaders to work in struggling schools, and provide pedagogical leadership to other staff.

What top-performing systems understand is that when schools are underperforming it is often because of the teachers within them last the knowledge, expertise or capacity to make that change, and so they support them in whatever way is required to make the school better for the children.
- Clever Lands: Lucy Crehan
As a teacher in an inner-city school, Lucy Crehan was exasperated with ever-changing government policy claiming to be based on lessons from ‘top-performing’ education systems. She resolved to find out what was really going on in the classrooms of countries whose teenagers ranked top in the world in reading, maths and science.

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