“We use the word ‘collaboration’ a lot at The Wood Foundation. Collaboration within our team. Collaboration with our direct partners. And collaboration across education, public, private, and third sector networks.
“It is only through this absolute commitment to collaboration – which requires honesty, transparency, flexibility, and openness – that we can empower the changes that are needed to realise the opportunities of our education system for our young people.
“That word will be getting used a lot more as we continue to work together to ensure our programme adaptations are not only fit-for-purpose but continue to lead the purpose in regards to innovation, creativity and, ultimately, impact for our young people.
“Collaboration does not mean the same thing to each individual, organisation, or set of circumstances. People’s understanding of collaboration, and their role, varies hugely. A part of our role, in the ‘funder plus’, venture philanthropic space we occupy, is to inspire our partners and empower them to contextualise what collaboration looks like for them, how that can grow, and the potential that could be realised across multiple relationships and development opportunities.
“The straight definition of collaboration is to ‘work with someone to produce something’ but the nuance therein and its application can be incredibly diverse.
“Over the past few months, we have seen our Global Learning Partnerships network rally with our partner RedEarth Education to develop lessons to be delivered via radio to children at home in Uganda. Our Excelerate pilot schools have worked closely with us, together, and our partners including Ford Next Generation Learning to formulate the next stages of their journey in realising the opportunities of partnership-led, context-driven education. YPI has developed a new bank of resources which have been created in consultation with educators. And RAiSE, has worked closely with its local authority partners to identify areas of need in STEM and primary learning.
“To foster these opportunities takes space, time, and trust. In my role, relationships are key. Mutual respect, built up over a sustained period, is how you get the best out of one another. Goals and vision have to go beyond ‘bought into’ to a level of mutual commitment and investment.
“I learn so much from the education community and am incredibly proud to play a role in fostering these networks. Our programmes and investments are platforms upon which we empower educators to realise their own potential on behalf of their students. Education holds a position of power like no other to make a difference to the lives of young people and their communities, not just for today but for the future.
“These relationships have inspired me and provided vital external perspective. They have helped me see what is possible despite turbulence. I am committed to cascading this learning through our networks. My hope is this is further cascaded so as many people as possible benefit from shared insight and contextualise it for their circumstance. I have seen so many wonderful examples recently of people reimagining systemic beliefs and practices and co-designing and co-creating for change.
“Local, national, and international relationships have been even more important as we navigate some difficult decisions and discussions, together, about how we sustain and develop what has been achieved to date and adapt in light of the challenges, and opportunities, afforded by our current position.
“The lockdown period has undoubtedly thrown unimaginable challenge our way, but many tell me the opportunity to pause, realign, and refocus has been invaluable. I hope we can take these attitudes forward, with a renewed commitment to raising one another up so we can raise the aspirations and outcomes for our young people.”