Kirsty Allen becomes new Managing Director

Kirsty Allen becomes new Managing Director

Good Morning,

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to share some important news regarding our organization. After a period of leadership change, I am honoured to step up as the new Managing Director and Responsible officer of CFI Awarding.

First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to Sam, who will continue in his role as the Awarding Manager, and to Nick, who will remain as our Academic Administrator. Their efforts and dedication have been instrumental in driving our organization’s success, and I look forward to working closely with them to ensure a seamless transition and continued excellence in our services.

As the new Managing Director, my primary focus is to provide you, our valued centres, with the highest level of support and service. I understand the importance of our partnership and the vital role you play in delivering quality education and training to learners. Rest assured that my commitment to maintaining the integrity and reputation of our organization remains steadfast.

In line with our commitment to continuous improvement, we will be undergoing a rebranding process. As part of this initiative, we will be introducing new email addresses for our team members, including myself, Sam, Nick and the EQAs. This update will enable more efficient and effective communication between our organization and your centre. We will share the details of our new email addresses in the coming days, and we kindly request that you update your contact records accordingly.

I believe in the power of collaboration and open dialogue. Your input and feedback are crucial to our continuous improvement. I encourage you to share any thoughts, suggestions, or concerns you may have. Together, we can work towards our common goal of providing learners with the best possible educational experience and ensuring their success.

I am excited about the journey ahead and the opportunity to work closely with each of you. As we embark on this new chapter together, please know that my door is always open. I am here to support you, answer any questions you may have, and address any challenges that may arise.

Thank you for your continued trust and partnership. I am confident that our collective efforts will drive positive outcomes and contribute to the growth and success of your centre. Should you have any immediate inquiries or require further assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at kirsty.allen@cfiawarding.com or our dedicated team.

Here’s to a prosperous future together!

Warmest regards,

Kirsty Allen

Managing Director & Responsible Officer 

CFI Awarding Ltd

Developing Qualifications Differently

Developing Qualifications Differently

What does CFI Awarding do?

Did you know that there are currently over 16,000 qualifications on the Regulated Qualification Framework? But many of them do the same thing and test the same or very similar things in the same way.

The challenge that CFI Awarding embrace is to create new and different qualifications – often in specialist fields where nothing currently exists. More than this, we look to help develop qualifications which feel meaningful and relevant to today’s learners and their aspirations for the future.

A wonderful example of this is something like the Crossfields Institute Level 3 Certificate in Community Orcharding, as community orchards are consistently growing in popularity and will need skilled people to develop and maintain them in years to come.

Similarly, the Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine was developed to reflect rising levels of interest in lifestyle interventions and person-centred medicine, and is designed to help clinicians and non-clinicians develop their personal practice.

The Qualification Development process

The process of developing a qualification begins with CFI Awarding talking to schools, learners, employers, the public, government – anyone really, to establish a need.

If a new qualification is needed, how many students are likely to want to take the qualification in any given year and then: what knowledge, abilities and skills the qualification should be instilling?

This is not a simple process. A qualification can be for hundreds of schools, or just one college or employer; it can be a large qualification that takes up to 3 years to complete or a small qualification that only lasts for one day.

Having agreed that a qualification is necessary and desirable the next step is to work together with a group of staff and stakeholders and agree what should be covered and how the student’s progress and achievement should be measured or tested.

Traditionally a lot of assessment of learners has been done by exam, but this can be unpopular with learners and many argue that this “high stakes testing” is just not the best way to find out what a student actually knows. 

Exams are also rarely designed to show what a student can do. A person’s future can rise or fall on the outcome of one day – and that is very stressful.

Because of this, CFI Awarding favour using portfolio-based assessment which looks at a wider variety of what a learner can do over a longer period of time, and in context.

If an awarding organisation is developing a qualification with this kind of assessment in mind, it has to be done carefully and with very strict quality controls around it so that the evidence of student achievement can be relied upon. Our role is to ensure rigorous quality assurance procedures around assessment before certificates are issued to learners.

Qualification Development in a changing world

Many people these days are more concerned with knowing that a learner can actually demonstrate what they have learned, rather than simply writing about it in a test. So some awarding organisations are evolving to make their qualifications more integrated, and about practice as much as theory.

Also, with information being so readily available, good qualifications these days shouldn’t be just about facts, but about how you interpret them, what you think about what you have learned and how it relates to your life or work.

Qualification development is an intense process of making sure that the qualification is asking the right questions of the learner, in the right way, at the right time and that you can be confident of the result.

Typically we will work with the stakeholders and ask questions like:

  • What exactly is the subject of the qualification?

  • What level should the qualification be? (for example, level 2 – GCSE level – or level 6 – degree level)

  • Who are the learners taking this qualification?

  • What experience or qualifications do they need before they start?

  • What are they likely to do after they complete this qualification? (for example, further study/work)

Once we have a clear idea of who the learners are and what the qualification is aiming to do, the next stage is to ask more detailed questions, such as:

  • What are the key things that the learner needs to know, understand and be able to do at the end of the qualification? (these are the learning outcomes and are a key part of any qualification)

  • How are we going to confirm that the student understands what they have been taught?

  • What experience or qualifications do those teaching the students need?

  • What quality assurance processes and systems do we need to put in place so that we can be sure that the qualification can be relied upon?

All these are important to know in order to contextualise the qualification and ensure that it is relevant and valid. This is how employers or the public in general know that someone really can do what a qualification says they can.

After asking all these questions, a qualification specification will emerge, examples of which can be found here. The specification is the key document which full information about the qualification as well as guidance to teachers.

Does my programme need to be regulated?

In many cases, developing an Ofqual-regulated qualification is the option which best meets the needs of all stakeholders.

However, there will be occasions when it makes more sense to develop a CFI Quality Mark programme.

This could be because:

  • the learners are already educated to a level where a regulated qualification wouldn’t benefit them and are looking instead to further their professional development.

  • the course sits within an industry that doesn’t require a regulated qualification.

  • the training provider prefers the additional flexibility that a Quality Mark programme offers them in terms of shaping their course just the way they want.

A Crossfields Institute Quality Mark means that a programme and centre is endorsed by Crossfields Institute. We will develop the Quality Mark with an approved centre and then monitor and review its delivery to learners. A Quality Mark can be quite flexible with regards to process and structure and is built around the specific needs of the provider. Nevertheless, our quality assurance team will work closely with the centre to ensure that standards are upheld and learners are at the centre of all assessment and administrative processes.

Quality Mark certificates bear the training provider’s logo and the CFI logo. As with the process for the delivery of regulated qualifications, a prospective centre must go through the Centre Approval process, in which we ensure that the centre has the correct staff, systems and processes in place to deliver this training (our existing centres would not need to repeat this process if interested in developing a Quality Mark programme). This is reviewed at least annually with an external quality assurer to ensure all our centres are delivering programmes to an CFI-approved standard.

Why develop a qualification?

Qualifications are important because they confirm to a learner, a future employer, a member of the public or whoever sees the certificate that this person has successfully studied and achieved something at a particular level.

Usually the certificate has a front sheet with the name of the qualification and a transcript, which describes in detail that modules that have been covered, the level of study and length of time it took to complete.

This is important because it allows (for example) a future employer to know what you are capable of. The transcript also shows exactly what a student knows about a subject and how to carry out particular tasks or processes. This is particularly important in some areas, for example, health and social care.

The real point of an awarding organisation is that an independent organisation, separate from a learner’s college or workplace, is confirming through a rigorous process what the learner has achieved.

This is very different from when a college, employer or training provider issues its own certificates. With an awarding organisation the level of independence and the “outside in” perspective gives a strong measure and assurance of the quality of the learning.

If you’d like to explore the qualification process further, or have an idea you’d like to discuss with us, please get in touch:

About Crossfields Institute

Crossfields Institute is an educational charity specialising in holistic and integrative education and research. The Institute develops specialist qualifications which aim to support the development of autonomous students with the intellectual rigour, practical skills, social responsibility and ability to think creatively and act decisively.

Crossfields Institute
Stroud House | Russell Street | Stroud GL5 3AN | United Kingdom
T: +44 (0) 1453 808118
Company no: 06503063 | Charity no: 1124859

IQA Q & A

Internal Quality Assurance – Questions & Answers

As the Level 4 Award in Internal Quality Assurance enters its second year since launch, we wanted to dive a little deeper into the topic of IQA, for those who are interested in learning more about the area in general and how our qualification prepares participants to undertake high-quality quality assurance within their organisation.

Below, we explain what IQA is, why it matters to an organisation and how our course works.

To get more information on the qualification or register on the course, please contact course providers Kato Education via: hello@katoeducation.com

What is ‘IQA’?

Internal Quality Assurance. It is a process that seeks to ensure that assessments are undertaken using a consistent and fair approach across one or several assessors.  It monitors the teaching, learning and assessment systems and processes of a programme of learning as well as the evidence produced by the learners. This ensures that the requirements of the awarding organisation and the qualification have been fully met and helps to keep the centre in a continuous improvement cycle.

Why is IQA important?

Internal Quality Assurance helps a centre to identify areas of good and not-so-good practice. When used as a continuous process throughout the year, a well-planned IQA strategy can efficiently and effectively scrutinise every aspect of a programme to allow for continuous improvement of the process and the assessment practice of the assessor.

What can effective IQA do for an organisation?

Effective IQA will support the whole assessment process from all aspects of teaching and learning through to assessment of the learner.  Areas of good practice will be identified, shared and built upon whilst any areas of poor practice can be addressed through working with individuals who need professional development to improve their teaching and assessment skills.  Ultimately effective IQA will ensure that a centre is meeting all relevant requirements whilst also giving the learners a positive teaching, learning and assessment experience.

What makes the IQA course delivered by CFI unique?

The CFI course is unique because it allows the trainee IQA to focus on their own organisation’s programme(s) of learning and to generate naturally-occurring IQA evidence that they will be required to undertake by their awarding organisation as part of being an approved centre.  

This means that the evidence requirements are possible to meet (unlike other similar IQA qualifications).  Another unique point is that the course starts with the trainee IQA demonstrating that they understand the assessment requirements of the qualifications they will be quality assuring before moving on to the knowledge they are required to have around IQA systems and processes.  It then moves on to a more practical element, where by doing their job, the trainee IQA will be generating appropriate evidence.

What kinds of organisations have taken the IQA course?

Organisations that have a programme of learning with learning outcomes and/or assessment criteria.  These organisations have had a mixture of regulated (RQF), self regulated (SRQ) and quality mark (QM) programmes.  The types of organisations have ranged from schools and training organisations to employers who train their own staff.

What is important for people to know about IQA?

Knowing about IQA is the first step to being able to implement IQA.  Without it, a centre is not likely to be meeting the requirements of the awarding organisation and therefore the qualification.  They will also less likely to be in a position to ensure consistency and fairness in the teaching, learning and assessment of the learners within their centre.  They certainly will not be demonstrating best practice.

How can people sign up to the next course?

They can contact the course providers, Kato Education, via hello@katoeducation.com, to express an interest in signing up or ask for more information about the qualification.

Lou Doliczny steps down as CEO

Lou Doliczny steps down as CEO

Dear Colleagues,

This is to announce that our Group CEO, Lou Doliczny will be leaving us at the end of February 2023.

Lou has been with Crossfields Institute since 2014 and has contributed hugely to the organisation over that time. She has been a strong and consistent advocate of our work, and as CEO has steered the organisation over the past 3 years through the challenges of COVID. We are immensely grateful to her, and she will not be disappearing completely, but may from time to time be involved in our projects.

Lou and her family have recently moved to Devon and she intends to find interesting professional roles as well as spending more time on another passion of hers – sailing. The Trustees would like to thank her for her amazing service and commitment over the last few years and we wish her well.

Trustees are looking ahead to the next phase for the charity and are committed to ensuring strong leadership and maintaining good governance for Crossfields Institute. We are keen to build on our network of affiliated organisations and continue to evolve as an organisation.

With this in mind, the existing Core Leadership Team will continue to lead the vision and values of CFI for the foreseeable future and are excited about this new chapter for the organisation.

If you have any questions about this, please get in touch.

Best Wishes,

Crossfields Institute

 

Work with us

Work with us

 

Crossfields Institute is a growing organisation, always looking out for talented individuals to join the team. If you have an interest in integrative education, regenerative social practice or transformative learning, and the skills to make a difference, why not get in touch with us?

External Quality Assurers (EQA)

We are seeking experienced subject specialists with understanding and experience of awarding organisation quality assurance processes in the following curriculum areas:

Health and social care – nutrition and lifestyle coaching, herbalism, trauma-informed approaches to health, care and education, equine facilitated psychotherapy, integrative healthcare, osteopathy, anthroposophic skincare

Teaching and learning – higher level teaching qualifications and therapeutic education

Agriculture, horticulture and forestry – biodynamic agriculture, agroforestry, community orcharding

Child development and well-being –Steiner Waldorf, Pikler and Montessori approaches

Foundations for learning and life – integrated qualifications for school age learners at levels 2 & 3

Qualification Developers

We are also looking for individuals with experience of writing and developing Regulated Qualifications.

Application by CV and covering letter or email. 

For more information and general enquiries, contact info@cfiawarding.com

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Blog – Education for Regenerative Practice and Sustainable Development

Education for Regenerative Practice and Sustainable Development

Beki Aldam, Crossfields Learning

As we launch our Level 3 in Integrative Education, we look at why we created it, what inspired us, and what we aim to achieve 

Our approach 

The Integrative Education set of qualifications was created to inspire learners to engage with their learning, and create work they are proud to have produced. It aims to raise attainment for all learners and reduce the numbers of early school leavers. 

Crossfields Institute lead a project to explore and develop a type of learning and assessment that focuses on the use of portfolio assessment, and evidence of achievement from formal, informal and non-formal learning, designed to increase inclusion. This project was recognised and funded by Erasmus+ 2015 Key Action 2, School Education Strategic Partnership Project1, and has informed the development of these qualifications. 

More widely, this qualification was developed as a way to address concerns that education is increasingly politicised and centrally-controlled, vulnerable to the short-termism that our political system often engenders, and the ideological views of those currently in power. The Federation for Education Development’s survey also concluded that, “81% of respondents believe a long-term plan for education should be driven by a politically neutral and independent organisation.” 

This qualification was therefore developed by looking closely at the evidence behind assessment, rather than being driven by ideologies or targets, and out of a desire to engage young people in their learning with renewed enthusiasm and joy.  

The Times Education Commission concluded that, “high-stakes assessment has become the tail that wags the dog. Of course some exams are necessary, but the single-minded focus on grades has undermined the broad and balanced education that should be offered to all young people.” 

An over-reliance on summative, exam-based assessment, in order to achieve a qualification, is not serving the needs of many school-age learners. There are over 2 million children currently not in school, and 416 students are being excluded from schools every single month. 

The pressures to achieve in such a system inevitably devalue and reduce time spent on integrating other important non-formal or informal learning opportunities. A headteacher quoted in an Institute of Education (IoE) report stated, “With high stakes testing, the whole of the school’s activity is based around passing tests.” 

Those learners whose learning styles and needs do not sit well with formal learning and summative exam assessments are at greater risk of becoming disillusioned, disengaged, stressed and even disruptive. Geoff Barton, the head of the Association of School and College Leaders argues against the “baked-in” system of failure, that sees one-third of children failing their Maths and English GCSEs each year, to keep to the correct ratios: “Our education system works well for about 70 per cent of children. The trouble is if you’re one of the 30 per cent it’s a national scandal.” 

At Crossfields Institute, we aim to create qualifications that work for all students, that bring the very best out of each learner, and exclude no one from a lifelong love of learning and a sense of achievement. This is because students are not made to learn material for exams, but can instead engage with exciting and interesting projects that will inspire them. 

An integrative approach 

The Level 3 IE set of qualifications has been developed to be integrative, in recognition of the fact that life does not easily fit into siloed subjects. 

For Crossfields Institute, there are three ways that education can be described as ‘integrative’. Integrative education: 

  1. Engages the whole person – both teacher and student. They use and develop their mental, physical and emotional skills.
  2. Connects the learner and their learning to their daily life. Their own experiences become valuable in their learning; their learning is useful in their own lives, within their particular context. The student’s educational experience remains relevant for them, and continues to do so as they leave the educational setting and move out into the world. 
  3. Connects or combines both different subjects and the skills those subjects seek to develop. 

Education that is integrative will be more engaging, more enlightening, more meaningful. Students will have the chance to love what they learn and apply it wherever it is most needed in their lives. 

 

Regenerative practice and sustainable development 

The Integrative Education qualifications also focus on how to teach the next generation of learners, to live in the world in which we find ourselves. We now live in a new geological age, the Anthropocene, where humans dominate the planet’s ecology and geochemistry.  Humans have become the single most influential species on the planet, causing significant global warming and other changes to land, environment, water, organisms and the atmosphere. 

The coming years represent a vital window of time, in which humans need to drastically alter the way they interact with the world, and work towards a more sustainable way of life. 

However, the world’s transformation to sustainable development is being impeded by the very way humanity currently functions, “at the core, we are the problem. The way we’re acting in the world, and the way we solve problems, is the problem. 

As humans, we currently, “lack the inner capacity to deal with our increasingly complex environment and challenges.” However, “modern research shows that the inner abilities we now all need can be developed.” 

The Inner Development Goals are an identified list of transformative skills for sustainable development. They show us which qualities and skills we need to develop and nurture, in order to be able to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

That’s why this qualification includes a module that enables learners to recognise and work on their own inner development. As well as enhancing their own capabilities, it may also help them to face the challenges and anxieties that climate change and other crises bring to their lives. Based on the Inner Development Goals, the module focuses closely on what individuals can do to improve their own inner development, and take care of their mental wellbeing through challenging times. 

The content of the qualification has also been informed by the Gaia Yes curriculum, which recognises that, “integrating knowledge and skills for sustainable development into schools is crucial for the future of our planet and, more specifically, for the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and EU sustainability policies. We are handing over to the next generation a planet that must face several serious environmental problems and the convergence of multiple crises. It is important to help young people develop the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours necessary for sustainable development.” 

At this unprecedented time in history, the development of this qualification is a response to the urgent need for relevant learning, preparing young people for the ecological challenges around them. 

In addition to the urgent need to address the climate crises, society needs to resolve a crisis of skills. According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), more than three-quarters of small UK businesses have struggled to recruit in the past 12 months, with 82% blaming a lack of candidates with the right experience, 

Young people are acutely aware of this skills deficit. Research conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Accenture, and Hays10 found that almost 1 in 4 young people (aged 17-23) do not feel adequately prepared by their education for the world of work. 

This qualification includes an emphasis on key knowledge and skills that are relevant to the world we live in, including communication skills and intercultural competence; systems-based thinking and economics; action-based research skills and awareness of global perspectives. 

Moreover, the Gaia Yes programme, which inspired this qualification, clearly outlines how important it is to develop students’ sustainability “competencies, twenty-first century skills and the outcomes of their national curricula in an integrated manner…. The emphasis must shift from information to imagination and from imagination to practical application through learning from experience. These competencies are crucial in finding solutions to various serious environmental problems and crises.” 

The CBI describes young people as ‘work ready’ when they have developed their knowledge, skills and character. The IE qualifications follow the same structure, working with the head (knowledge), hands (skills) and heart (character, or attributes), to enable the next generation of thinkers, leaders and citizens to thrive. Each module contains knowledge that the students will gain, skills they will develop and attributes they will carry forward. 

Education needs to enthral, engage and bring joy to learners. The aim of the Level 3 qualification is to do just that. As the Nobel prizewinning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, said, “A curriculum needs to excite. It needs to create citizens as well as specialists.” 

New Executive Director Recruitment

New Executive Director Recruitment

We are sad to announce that our Group CEO, Lou Doliczny will be leaving us at the end of February 2023. Lou has been with Crossfields Institute since 2014 and has contributed hugely to the organisation over that time.   She has been a strong and consistent advocate of our work, and as CEO has steered the organisation over the past 3 years through the challenges of COVID. We are immensely grateful to her, and she will not be disappearing completely, but may from time to time be involved in our projects.  Lou and her family have recently moved to Devon and she intends to spend more time on another passion of hers – sailing. The Trustees would like to thank her for her amazing service and commitment over the last few years and we wish her well.

Trustees are looking ahead to the next phase for the charity and are committed to ensuring strong leadership and maintaining good governance for Crossfields Institute.  We are keen to build on our network of affiliated organisations and continue to evolve as an organisation. Lou’s departure means that we are now seeking a new Executive Director (see job pack). If you know of anyone who is looking for a new challenge, on a part-time basis then please do let us know. We are also looking for new trustees so if you know anyone who has a passion for what we do and has experience as a trustee please do ask them to get in touch.

Blog – Education and the Climate Emergency

Education and the Climate Emergency

Beki Aldam, Crossfields Learning

Traditional education 

There are changes afoot, even in the famously lumbering beast that is the National Curriculum. After years of lobbying, Natural History, a climate-emergency related GCSE, is now available for students taking mainstream exams. However, the curriculum overall is woefully lacking, even in passing references to the climate emergency, biodiversity loss, sustainable ways of living or green futures.  

Teach the Future, a student-led campaign group, says, “Current climate education is inadequate. Students aren’t being prepared to face the effects of climate change, or taught to understand the solutions.” 

It is currently left to individual teachers to shoe-horn this content into their classroom, according to how passionately they feel about it. Dr Alison Kitson, Associate Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, argues that, “Practice varies across the UK, but in England at least, climate change and sustainability education have a relatively low profile, with efforts tending to be driven by committed individuals.”i Moreover, a recent research blog on Reading University claims that the latest government sustainability and climate strategy does not go far enough to develop skills across the education sector.  

Across the country, that means millions of students are missing out on vital knowledge about the current situation, because teachers are not able to bring enough of this into their classroom – whether it’s because they are not well enough informed, over tired and too stressed to prepare any extra resources, or they simply don’t know enough to feel confident in teaching it. Arguably, heaping the climate emergency onto teachers’ shoulders is neither fair nor guarantees an equitable exposure to climate information for learners. Almost all teachers are worried about climate change, adding to the stress they already feel from an overwhelming workload. 

Political educational issues 

In addition to the lack of robust content about the climate emergency in the national curriculum, there is also the double-issue of the current political turmoil affecting education, coupled with the lack of decisive climate action coming from politicians both in power and in opposition. 

On welcoming the new Education Secretary, the Association of School and College Lecturers commented on the number of changes to that post in recent years: “Education matters more than this. It is a vital public service. Schools and colleges deserve stable political leadership which addresses the crucial issues of inadequate funding and severe staff shortages caused by a government which has undervalued the workforce and sapped its morale.” 

If our politicians are not tackling the urgent needs of the education, and they also are not taking the necessary decisive action needed over the climate emergency, are they best placed to make decisions over how the climate emergency is presented within the curriculum? 

Skills gap 

Whatever your level of acceptance of the current state of our environment, there is widespread acknowledgement that students of today don’t have the skills to fill the jobs that will be required in the future, to ensure society can adapt to a changing environment.  

The new Natural History GCSE aims to develop students’ skills, “to help them go into a future career in the natural world through field work, such as observation, description, recording and analysis.” However, this doesn’t cover the skills required in many occupations that are becoming necessary in the ‘green transition’. 

The Environmental Audit Committee warned this time last year that, “climate change and sustainability risked being seen as a ‘tick box exercise’ in education”, and that the definition of ‘Green Jobs’ was still yet to be finalised. 

The IEMA warned of a gap of 200,000 jobs that need to be filled if the UK is going to reach its net zero targets. 

Young people and eco-anxiety 

Another important aspect of the climate emergency and education, is how the climate emergency affects students. 

Half of teachers feel ill-equipped to deal with student anxiety around climate change. The journal Nature reported that in the largest survey of its kind, where 10,000 young people from across the world were asked about climate change, over half were worried or extremely worried, and nearly half said thoughts about climate change impacted their lives every day. 

What are the positives? 

It always feels disheartening to outline exactly where we are in terms of the climate emergency. But there are inspiring organisations and groups who are doing important work to forge positive roads into the future, through education. For example, the Ministry of Eco Education is working to pool resources and ideas on climate change, from teachers already working within the current curriculum framework. Not to forget young climate activists themselves, working tirelessly across the globe to enact positive change. 

The UN points to the power of education to catalyse action and to reframe the negativity: “knowing the facts helps eliminate the fear of an issue which is frequently colored [sic] by doom and gloom in the public arena.” 

Crossfields Institute 

Crossfields Institute seeks to promote environmental responsibility wherever possible, and works to be part of the exciting movement towards a climate-responsible, regenerative education. Regenerative education is about recognising the need for a fundamental change to the way people learn. Instead of engaging with the world in either a destructive, or sustainable way, regenerative education aims to enable learners to become a hugely positive force for good for themselves, their communities and the wider world. 

The forthcoming Integrative Education Level 3, which prepares learners for employment or for undergraduate university study, is inspired and informed by several international projects and frameworks that place regenerative education at the heart of the curriculum.  

By doing this qualification, learners will engage positively with the communities around them, gaining essential action research skills and learning how to implement their research to provoke positive change. 

It aims to ensure learners are prepared for a changed and rapidly-changing world, and equipped with skills that will enable them to take a proactive role in improving the communities and societies in which they participate. 

To find out more, contact our Learning Team: dialogue@crossfieldsinstitute.com. 

Crossfields Institute also supports qualifications which address the skills gaps and provide education on important restorative practices, such as regenerative land-based practices. Find out more about our qualifications. 

 

Image credits - Jeanne Menjoulet & DeGust

Blog – Inner Development Goals

Inner Development Goals for Integrative Learning

Where did the Inner Development Goals come from? 

In 2015, all UN member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals represent international agreement that we have to dramatically change our ways of living, if we are to continue to inhabit Earth without destroying her irrevocably. According to who you are, those changes should occur very soon, right now, yesterday, or at some point in the future. But there is almost universal acceptance that something drastic needs to change. The UN talks of us being in “an ambitious decade” at the end of which the goals are met, in 2030. 

Why are we not steaming towards the accomplishment of these goals? For many who are concerned about it, movement towards the goals seems achingly slow, or even non-existent. The recent return of populist governments across the world has further scuppered progress and, in some cases, introduced dangerous regressions. 

Frustrations about this lack of progress began to grow soon after the goals were ratified. In early 2019 a group of academics, thinkers and leaders got together to discuss the view that what was impeding the world’s transformation to sustainable development was something about the way humanity currently functions, “at the core, we are the problem. The way we’re acting in the world, and the way we solve problems, is the problem.” [innerdevelopmentgoals.org] 

Environmental lawyer and academic Gus Speth articulated it best, when he said: “I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy.”  

This group agreed that, as humans, “we lack the inner capacity to deal with our increasingly complex environment and challenges.” Luckily though, all is not lost, because, “modern research shows that the inner abilities we now all need can be developed.” [innerdevelopmentgoals.org] 

The development of these inner abilities is the foundation of the Inner Development Goals (IDGs). 

What are the Inner Development Goals? 

The IDGs are an identified list of transformative skills for sustainable development. They show us which qualities and skills we need to develop and nurture, in order to be able to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

Crucially, there will be guidance on how to develop these necessary skills, which will be “open source and free for all to use”.  

Reading the full IDG report is interesting, because over a thousand people worldwide have had an input in their evolution. And there were many discussions on how they ought to be presented. Essentially, though, there was a need to make them accessible, and easy for mass communication and education. Agreement was made that 23 skills and qualities would be presented in five ‘dimensions’ or categories: 

Why do we think they are important? 

At CFI, we have a commitment that everything we do should make the world a better place. We believe that education has the power and potential to be a force of positive change in the world. And we aim not only to care for and nurture the environments around us, but to promote environmental responsibility wherever we can. 

For us, then, the IDGs align clearly with what we wish to help our learners achieve – real, lasting, positive change in the world. 

How can they improve and enhance IE? 

The IDGs give us a framework to develop our own skills and qualifications. Many of those skills are vital to becoming effective learners. For example, developing your co-creation skills (as part of part 4. Collaborating – Social Skills) will ensure that learners are better able to work in pairs or groups to create their work. It will lead to more satisfying learning experiences; better outcomes for learners and teachers; and a higher quality of work that we can showcase as a result. Everyone benefits! 

If anything, we think Integrative Education and IDGs complement each other. Arguably, young learners are better equipped to grasp the concepts of, and improve, their skills and qualities for life, in an environment where the learning better reflects the world around them; where their thinking is already connected across different subject areas; and where they are required to work in pairs or groups as part of their everyday educational experience. 

Most importantly, the IDGs give us practical help in addressing the needs of humanity. And they help people to navigate the anxieties and uncertainties that can impede progress and impair the quality of our lives. Climate change anxiety, rising alarmingly in the younger demographic, is a very real challenge that we must support our young learners – and their teachers – through. As this article in the Lancet argues, “we owe it to children and young people to prioritise mitigation of climate change at its source, while at the same time investing in evidence-based tools to support their mental wellbeing in the face of this ongoing crisis.” 

How have we used them in our work? 

We have embedded the principles of the IDGs into our Integrative Education Level 3 qualifications. 

The IDGs work alongside research methods, independent project work, cross-cultural competencies, eco-literacy and many other complementary elements that prepare young people for the next stage in their lives, and to be active and responsible global citizens. 

How can you find out more? 

Contact the training providers, Kato Education to find out more about the Integrative Education suite of qualifications. 

Read the full IDG report to find out more about the project. 

Blog – Integrative Education

What is Integrative Education?

What does ‘integrative education’ mean? 

The definition of ‘integrative’ is, “combining two or more things to form an effective unit or system.”  

What happens when we apply that to education and learning? It becomes a multi-faceted term that encompasses many elements of the learning process, the students and the teachers.  

The best-known version of integrative education (IE) is where the student learns in a way that combines or crosses over the boundaries between traditionally-divided subject areas. Sometimes called transdisciplinary, cross-curricular, or inter-curricular learning, students partake in learning that requires a range and combination of skills, and may include several subject areas. For example, a project making musical instruments that might combine musical, mathematic, physics, and handwork skills. 

However, it isn’t only the idea that day-to-day living is not neatly divided into subject silos, and that by fragmenting the student’s learning experience into artificial categories, the student is working in a way that isn’t reflecting the reality of the world around them.  

Education that is truly integrative also encourages an integration of intellectual, emotional, physical and social skills within the individual. It integrates the learner with the world in which we live; the societies that are fluctuating around them; and the planet that so desperately needs more understanding and support from humanity.  

Why does CFI awarding embrace IE? 

For CFI, there are three ways that education can be described as ‘integrative’. For us, integrative education: 

  1. Engages the whole person – both teacher and student. They use and develop their mental, physical and emotional skills.

  2. Connects the learner and their learning to their daily life. Their own experiences become valuable in their learning; their learning is useful in their own lives, within their particular context. The student’s educational experience remains relevant for them, and continues to do so as they leave the educational setting and move out into the world. 

  3. Connects or combines both different subjects and the skills those subjects seek to develop. 

Education that is integrative will – we believe – be more engaging, more enlightening, more meaningful. Students will have the chance to love what they learn and apply it wherever it is most needed in their lives. 

The good and the great 

So, what advantages can this way of learning produce for the learner? 

Arguably, integrative education: 

  • Better prepares students for a swiftly-changing world, one that isn’t divided into subjects. 

  • Allows students to come up with better ideas and solutions, when looking at a project or problem as a whole, rather than by dividing their thinking. 

  • Encourages students to apply their skillsets in a fluid and dynamic way, rather than trying to approach something with a fixed mindset. 

More broadly, we can see that humanity is facing some serious challenges, with increasing numbers of crises threatening us at every level. Things have to change, and education is a crucial part of that. Our education systems are not currently enabling people to function happily, healthily or sustainably in the world. 

The challenges and reservations 

Although there are clear problems with education, it’s still an unnerving idea to many that everything about the current system needs to be overhauled in favour of something different, a move into the unknown. However, integrative education isn’t a new concept. Pedagogical experts have mooted, examined and proposed IE ideas for over a century (Kilpatrick’s The Project Method was published in 1918!) 

Yet, in many of the world’s mainstream education systems, IE has not been implemented in any meaningful way. There are reasons for this: 

  • Time: On a practical level, teachers often don’t have time to collaborate in a way that would make their students’ experience truly integrative. There are many gestures and nods towards IE (numeracy in your English lessons anyone?) but these do not make the educational experience truly integrative, and therefore don’t bring along its benefits. 

  • Organisation: There has to be some way to organise the educational experience. And there are advantages to structuring the students’ day so they learn a certain set of skills, and are able to focus on one thing at a time. Also, even if they did work on a multi-disciplinary project, they’d need to break that down into manageable chunks. Some argue that subject-silos are an effective way to do this. 

  • Change: Embracing IE fully requires big changes to be made. Large-scale reforms are difficult and often unpopular at first, making it an unappealing job both for educators and the politicians who may direct or enable such reforms at a national level. 

However, these challenges can be met and mitigated by the right IE system. One that allows teachers to collaborate; one that recognises the importance of specialist knowledge, but doesn’t restrict teachers and learners within subject silos; one that is organised and purposeful; one that works with education settings to support and implement the changes in a manageable way.  

Where to begin 

At CFI, our IE programme aims to allow all students to achieve their best and stay engaged. It’s also more inclusive than the current exam-based system, because it uses a fairer, wider range of assessment such as portfolios, presentation and performance. The courses run at both Level 2 and Level 3. Schools and organisations who adopt the IE qualifications are given support and teachers are offered training, to ensure they feel comfortable with and capable of delivering the materials.  

Find out more about the IE suite