A fund to support teachers to develop new tools and resources has been launched in Scotland today following the publication of a report that highlights the ‘lack of innovation and experimentation’ in the Scottish school education system.

The ‘PINEAPPLE’ fund, set up by The Glasgow Academy, is being made available to all teachers across the country with the aim of encouraging innovation in education.

PINEAPPLE is ‘one of the only’ privately backed innovation funds in Scottish education and will allow any teacher in Scotland to apply for funding to help get projects off the ground.

Its launch comes at a ‘crucial’ time for Scotland’s education sector and supports the findings of a recent report from campaign groups ScotlandCan and the Social Market Foundation, which argued that an innovation fund should be created to end the sector’s ‘risk-averse’ educational culture (see below).

PINEAPPLE, which is an acronym for Partnering INnovativE Approaches to LEarning, has been designed to accept a wide range of submissions, from the development of a new app to commissioning research into a specific teaching approach.

There is just one stipulation. Applicants must demonstrate how their idea will make a positive contribution to Scottish education.

As well as delivering funding, The Glasgow Academy will provide strategic support, offering guidance and access to the school’s established network and contacts.

Matthew Pearce, rector of The Glasgow Academy, said: “The world of education is changing. The past year may have been incredibly challenging but it has also created an opportunity to develop new ways of working and shape the landscape of Scottish education for the better.

“Schools and teachers are innovating all the time, and PINEAPPLE has created the infrastructure to make these ideas a reality. Our purpose is simple; we want to make Scotland’s education sector better, by supporting the development of good ideas and by ensuring that innovation is not lost or discouraged. As a partner in the project, we hope we can uncover and develop revolutionary new practices which will improve learning and education in schools across the country.

“We want to hear from any teacher or educational professional who has an idea for improving or transforming the way we interact with young people in a school setting. It can be something as simple as designing new posters for the classroom to setting up a programme that gets parents and carers more engaged in learning. All ideas will be thoroughly considered and, if successful, we will work closely with the teachers to make their vision a reality.”

The Glasgow Academy has so far put £5,000 into the fund, though it may be extended ‘depending on the submissions which come in.’

For more information or to submit an application for funding, teachers should visit www.theglasgowacademy.org.uk/pineapple.

‘Encouraging innovation and experimentation in Scottish schools’

Research carried out by ScotlandCan and the Social Market Foundation considers ‘the existing obstacles to innovation and experimentation’.

It explores several ‘structural issues’ behind the ‘lack of innovation and experimentation’ in schools, including:

  • A tendency towards micromanagement, and a ‘tick-box’ audit culture
  • A ‘middle layer’ of administration uncertain about its role, with local authorities seen as obstructing innovation and Regional Improvement Collaboratives yet to achieve their potential
  • Personnel in senior positions that tend to rise through conformism and avoiding ‘rocking the boat’
  • A lack of time and resources for new ideas and professional development

And as well as recommending the creation of an ‘innovation fund’, it makes four other key policy recommendations to develop a ‘more dynamic, creative and inventive school system.’

  • Make innovation and experimentation an explicit part of the remit of educational bodies, especially Regional Improvement Collaboratives
  • Diversify hiring and appointments to key roles in government and agencies
  • Support forums for the exchange of ideas
  • Invest in research and knowledge exchange