Scottish government should collaborate with independent schools, says Kelvinside rector

Rector Dan Wyatt said collaboration between state and independent schools could help Scotland bridge the skills gap

The rector of Kelvinside Academy issued a plea to the Scottish government to work collaboratively with private schools for the betterment of all the nation’s pupils.

Rector Dan Wyatt said his school’s curriculum – which blends traditional subjects with multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects – should be a model for other schools in Scotland as the country seeks to bridge the skills gap.

Kelvinside’s Innovation School opened last year in partnership with Boston-based NuVu, an education enterprise created by PhD students and graduates of MIT and Harvard.

Under the scheme, Kelvinside students take control over creative projects that are “free from grades”. Wyatt said students benefit from learning within the framework and he has called upon education secretary John Swinney to work collaboratively with the independent sector to spread best practice.

I hope it will be a catalyst for change, a wake-up call and administrators will be enthusiastic to looking at alternative models of education and acknowledge the benefits of embedding innovation within the curriculum – Dan Wyatt, Kelvinside Academy

Dan Wyatt said: “I believe this concept can be an important building block for the future of education, and we want to work with the Scottish government so more pupils across Scotland are prepared for the unknown roles of the future. Scotland can lead the world in innovation education and bridge the much-discussed skills gap faster than many other nations.

“Since launching our Innovation School last year, we’ve made repeated attempts to work with the Scottish Government and have demonstrated the value of using the architectural studio model, where pupils collaborate on developing creative solutions for real-world social and environmental problems.

“The last few months have shown how precarious education can be and the challenges which face our pupils. I hope it will be a catalyst for change, a wake-up call and administrators will be enthusiastic to looking at alternative models of education and acknowledge the benefits of embedding innovation within the curriculum.”

Wyatt’s appeal came as Nicola Sturgeon’s government announced it would postpone its plan to strip private schools of their charitable tax status until April next year. The decision was announced in December 2019 and was set to be introduced on 1 September.

Former RBS chief Ken Barclay recommended the change three years ago in his government-commissioned review of business rates for Stormont – it means all 51 independent schools in Scotland will be taxed full business rates.

John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said some institutions would have closed overnight if the move went ahead as planned. He has called for the postponement to be extended until September 2021.

State school St Luke’s High School, in East Renfrewshire, have already undertaken CPD courses at the Innovation School. Kelvinside’s director of innovation is actively looking for more ways to partner with more local authority schools and is keen to hear from potential industry and education partners.


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