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This week I was handed an article from The Times magazine about the education system in Estonia. Despite relatively low spending on education, Estonia has the best education system in Europe according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This tiny, former Soviet state outperforms the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, the US, Canada, Japan, and South Korea. The article highlighted some of the ways Estonia has achieved this impressive status and I wanted to know more. The journalist was focused on state funded schools in Europe but I am always happy to read about best practice. Additionally, as a lifelong educationalist, I was curious to see if there was anything I could glean that would benefit St Christopher’s.

Here are the main points:
Headteachers have a very high level of autonomy and teachers are trusted professionals.
Pupils are active participants in their learning.
Technology is woven into teaching and learning, it is a tool not an end in itself.
An even balance of tradition and innovation.
An emphasis on problem-solving, critical thinking, values, citizenship, entrepreneurship and digital competence.

I was pleased to see that the points above are embedded at St Christopher’s, too. We are a forward-thinking school that develops the whole child and our students are very successful indeed. Our teachers are warm and collaborative professionals who encourage children to be active learners. We embrace technology to support teaching and learning. At St Christopher's we know technology in any form is a means to an end; a pencil is just a piece of wood and graphite, but it can be used to sketch a portrait, label a diagram, write your first phonics or even your first novel. New technology simply enables greater exploration and creativity in the hands of the curious. St Christopher’s also strikes the right balance of tradition and innovation. Our traditional Remembrance celebration this year was simultaneously beamed into each classroom at exactly 11am, enabling all students to participate in this traditional Assembly in a very modern way.

If St Christopher’s could be measured on the PISA scale, I’m positive we would be up there with the best in the world.

Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head

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