Emerging Leaders Forum

Session 1: Newly Appointed Principals and Emerging Leaders; challenges and opportunities in the years ahead (Anna Pons)

Anna Pons, who has been with the OECD for more than 13 years, discusses the pressing issues facing education today. She aims to share data and insights from various OECD surveys and studies, including PISA, to shed light on international educational trends.

The Changing World and Its Impact on Education

  • Anna starts by highlighting the volatile and unpredictable nature of today’s world. She argues that this complexity makes the role of educational leadership increasingly important.
  • She mentions that while the world has undergone significant changes, educational systems have not kept pace. The trend in educational performance is towards stagnation, with only some countries showing improvement in PISA scores.

Technology as a Double-Edged Sword

  • Anna discusses the role of Artificial Intelligence, specifically mentioning ChatGPT’s strong performance in literacy sections of the PISA test.
  • She notes that technology is no longer confined to privileged schools; it has become universally accessible. However, this democratization poses challenges, such as how to integrate technology effectively into educational curricula and methods.

Leadership: The Need for Adaptability and Inclusivity

  • Educational leaders must be adaptable and open to continuous learning to navigate the complexities of the modern educational landscape.
  • Anna talks about the shift from hierarchical models of leadership to more distributed, collegial structures. This change broadens the scope of accountability, making leaders answerable not just to educational ministries but also to local communities and other stakeholders.

The Rise of Social and Emotional Skills

  • Anna emphasizes that social and emotional skills, once considered “soft,” are now “hard skills” crucial for navigating today’s world.
  • She presents data showing that while 80% of students are concerned about climate change, only half believe they can make a difference. This gap highlights the need to empower students and instill a sense of agency.

Creativity: A Neglected Skill

  • Anna reveals that according to a new OECD study on social and emotional skills, creativity tends to decline as students age. This raises questions about the educational system’s role in either nurturing or stifling creativity.
  • She argues for the integration of creativity into mainstream curricula, rather than relegating it to after-school activities.

Unanswered Questions and Future Directions

  • How can technology, especially AI, be effectively used to enhance educational outcomes?
  • How can educational leaders empower students from disadvantaged backgrounds?
  • What role do leaders play in shaping educational narratives, setting expectations, and fostering a growth mindset among both teachers and students?