Policy making heaven: a look back at Pasi Sahlberg’s OEB keynote

Pasi Sahlberg at OEB17

I have been working on some articles about effective education policy this week and that prompted me to look back at Pasi Sahlberg’s contribution (slides available here) to the Opening Plenary at last December’s OEB conference.  It was an inspiring 20 min or so that combined hard hitting policy insight with a global perspective from the Finnish expert and culminated in a sing-a-long that makes the YouTube video worth watching!

In his talk there was a clear juxtaposition between making “successful education policies for the future we don’t know” (with examples from the UK, US and Australia amongst others) and “shaping the future we want by making successful policies that create equitable public education for all”. Some of the hallmarks of these kinds of policies are that they award trust-based responsibility, encourage professionalisation, reward risk taking and creativity and that they create cooperation. Not a lot to get right, but a stark contrast to the familiar examples of market driven competition we are seeing every day.

Sahlberg explained how we can get to education policy heaven by achieving the right balance between excellence and equity. Thinking about that made me go back to the call for action for openness in education ALT published late last year. It shows how we could take forward the kind of ‘heavenly’ policy making Sahlberg advocates in all education sectors in the UK in a very practical way.

With the OER18: Open to All conference only a few months away, there is a lot of work ahead to try and build on the successes of last year, the Year of Open, and make this kind of change happen on a national scale.