Session 297: What is Autonomy and Independence in Education?

Q1. Is autonomy and independence valued in Education?
Q2. Do think schools are becoming more or less autonomous? What is your evidence?
Q3. Do you feel you can be autonomous and independent in your classroom?
Q4. Are there downsides to autonomous teachers? How are very independent teachers viewed by colleagues?
Q5. How can senior leaders encourage teachers to self manage?
Q6. How can we encourage our pupils to be independent?
Q7. Is it possible or desirable to have a curriculum autonomous of outside influences?
Q8. What are your top tips for being autonomous of school for a while and getting your work/life balance right?


In this chat there was many different forms of independence and autonomy discussed, and the terms where intentionally left vague for chatters to decide on the precise meaning for themselves.

The discussion began by talking about the value of independence and autonomy. Many voiced that either extreme has its problems, from stifling creativity to a lack accountability. However, most participants voiced the desire to have a greater autonomy within their own classrooms. Seemingly the right to choose was the important factor here, with the ability to talk and collaborate with one’s colleagues if one chose.

Generally, participants seemed to believe that schools were becoming less independent places in the name of accountability. Both external and internal factors were implicated.

A fascinating part of the discussion was about how senior managers can encourage independence from the staff. Leading by example was the main suggestion. It was also felt that senior managers needed to verbalise this encouragement and almost give staff permission to be independent.

Talking about the Independence of pupils has been discussed on UKEdChat before and is a popular topic with teachers. There were some superb suggests discussed which I will not go into detail here. Check out the archive below.

Work/life balance is always a tricky thing to achieve in teaching and the latter part of the discussion turn to this thorny topic. Lots of chatters suggested not taking paper work home and leaving school at a reasonable time was a good start on the road to a sensible work/life balance. Once again, the archive has many more interesting suggestions.

In teaching we model ideas and concepts for our pupils all the time. We encourage them to be independent and self-sufficient as far as possible. Yet as a profession we are not always able to do this ourselves – not because we don’t want to, but because of the hand of accountability is always on our shoulders. Only when teachers are trusted to teach will the creativity and innovation potential of the educators of this country be truly realised.

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About @ICTmagic 751 Articles
Martin Burrett is the editor of our popular UKEdMagazine, along with curating resources in the ICTMagic section, and free resources for teachers on UKEd.Directory

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