New Nordic school is challenging the standard assumption that change is primarily something that comes from the top. Proposed changes to the law and frameworks play an important role, but changes and improvements don’t really begin until individual pedagogues, teachers or heads, together with the children and their parents make the changes real. However, when local changes need helping along, it is important that national and municipal frameworks and developmental initiatives are able to work together. The Danish Ministry of Education therefore asked MindLab to investigate how to establish the best possible interaction between New Nordic School and the frameworks and development tracks laid out by individual municipalities.
Do you know what it’s like when you’ve had a sneeze on the way for ages and it finally comes? That’s the feeling I had when I heard about New Nordic School. We could finally bring together all the small initiatives that were going on in various places.
Head, NNS school
MindLab’s work showed that both municipalities and NNS institutions were positive about NNS as a concept, but the administrative form itself, whereby change comes from below, was a new concept for state, municipalities and schools. Therefore, active initiatives need to be taken if the potential that is inherent in a good interaction between New Nordic School and municipal developments is to be realised.
One of the things we found in the study was the importance of how NNS and the municipality’s own school strategies can create a common context and vision for the municipality’s schools. Odense Municipality reported, for example, that it had been working on a new framework in state schools for quite some time under the heading of “the coherent school day”. It was greatly beneficial that NNS also focused on just that theme and it was important for the municipality to signal that the two initiatives are linked. It was also important for the schools that the signals in NNS did not conflict with guidelines from existing initiatives at municipal level.
Another conclusion was that it must be clear how municipalities can benefit from NNS in their local developmental tasks. For example, by showing municipalities how NNS can function as local test facilities, where municipalities can gain experience on a small scale, which can then be used throughout the municipality.
The collaboration with MindLab has meant that the Ministry of Education has turned the interaction between NNS and state school municipal development into a theme in the ministry’s endeavours to ensure that NNS is rolled out successfully. The initiatives have been geared towards articulating this interaction more explicitly. And by making the theme a focus in the supporting activities that the ministry offers schools and municipalities, for example.
MindLab focused on two NNS pilot schools which had already begun to experiment with how the NNS mindset could become a reality. In addition to interviews at the schools, interviews were also conducted with key people in the administration and the relevant municipal politician. The conclusions from the interviews were then taken up by a municipal working group, with representatives from key players in the field. In 2013 the recommendations of the working group are now being fed into the Ministry of Education’s full range of initiatives for the rollout of the New Nordic School.
– Two pilot schools. At each school, interviews were conducted with school heads and three teachers with central roles.
– Two municipalities, a head of administration and a consultant with a central role were interviewed.
– At political level, a councillor from the school committee was interviewed in the two municipalities.
The ethnographic interview provides an in-depth and specific insight into user experiences in relation to the current situation. The interview can also help to refine the existing knowledge and provide new perspectives for the further analysis and concept development in the project.
Change theory clarifies how an initiative is expected to create a change for the users. In addition, it is also relevant to discuss what kinds of changes you wish to create with the initiative.
Workshop facilitation is used when you need to involve a lot of people in the project. It may be that you need ideas, inputs, knowledge etc. of a particular group of people. By facilitating a workshop you ensure that you obtain the necessary knowledge.