Our research this week is looking at Latvia which has risen from being ranked ‘poor’ to ‘good’ in educational performance according to the McKinsey and Company 2010 report ‘How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better’. One of the highlights of the executive summary to this report is that Latvian students in 2006 demonstrated improved performance equivalent to half a school-year advanced in comparison with students of the year 2000. Latvia is also identified in this report as being one of the ‘sustained improvers’ from 1995-2007.
Reforms in Latvia placed emphasis on system management, revising the school model and optimising schools and staff through transparency and accountability. Establishing the educational system foundations have included the introduction of a state inspectorate conducting school inspections, an education centre set up for student evaluation and centralised examinations. For a copy of this McKinsey report please see the following link: http://mckinseyonsociety.com/downloads/reports/Education/How-the-Worlds-Most-Improved-School-Systems-Keep-Getting-Better_Download-version_Final.pdf.
However, Latvia is not content with this rise in student outcomes and is continuing its journey in educational policy development through extensive consultation. Latvia is seeking to emulate the educational success of Finland via direct engagement. For further details, please see the following link for the Seminar: ‘On the Road to Excellence in Latvia’s Educational System: Finland’s Example’ held at the Embassy of Finland in Riga on 2nd March 2012:
The need for proposed reforms to the educational system in Latvia is outlined by Dr Robert Kilis, the Minister for Education and Science for Latvia in a further video with a focus on the professional role of teachers and content of education to encourage creativity of pupils. One of the challenges for Latvia remains the declining number of pupils participating in school due to Latvian children leaving the country. This has resulted in figures being produced by the Minister for Education and Science of Latvia indicating that 7% of Latvian children are not in attendance at Latvian schools but are instead attending schools in other countries. This has led the Minister to raise questions over the financing of schools with a particular further concern over unequal funding of pupils.
Not only are finances being questioned but also the professional role of teachers and the content of education. For the Minister for Education and Science in Latvia, teachers should be encouraged to experiment and try to find the best approach for the development of each child’s talents and skills. Professional development of teachers should focus on the skills needed for an individual approach to each child and the use of coaching by experts is suggested as the methodology to improve the quality of teaching. Teachers should be encouraged to stimulate the formation of creative talents in children.
Reference is made in addition to partnerships being created for some schools between a group of experts, school management, teachers and the community with elements of such partnership taken from the United Kingdom. Please see the following link for the proposed reforms primarily outlined by the Minister for Education and Science.
If you are interested in courses to stimulate creativity in pupils, you might be interested in browsing a selection of relevant entries on the GoodCPDGuide, our free national professional development database.