Bob Harrison talks to Stanford University’s Thomas Black, who revolutionised student services in the US
Thomas BlackWhen Thomas Black grew up in Nebraska, its farming community was a place where innovation and problem solving were the difference between life and death. This had a profound effect on Stanford University’s associate vice-provost for student affairs, and the man behind the university’s iStanford student ‘apps’ revolution.

“I learned at a very early age from my community that in order to survive you had to be able to solve problems as they arose,” he explains, “to innovate when the environment changed otherwise you would just starve.”

Sean O'Sullivan

By Sally McKeown
“Hi Sean, do you know how to change the background colour on this?” A pupil, Brian, and Jamie, a new member of support staff at  Frank Wise School, wander into the office of headteacher Sean O’Sullivan (above) to get some help and on-the-spot training. Once they have learned how to put a new layer into Pages and change the colour they go off to develop the title page for the class magazine.

The school achieved Beacon status in 2004 and was designated a Specialist School (SEN) in Cognition and Learning in 2007. It has won several awards including International School and Becta ICT Excellence (runner-up) and obtained an Outstanding Ofsted report in 2007 and 2010. While there are many reasons for a school to do so well, part of the magic of Frank Wise is that technology is threaded through all the school activities in a very natural and intuitive way.

Microsoft Innovative Teachers 2010

By Jack Kenny

The Microsoft Innovative Education Forum is a great way for discovering teachers who are doing exceptional work in the classroom. This year primary school teachers Jan Webb (fifth from right above, and below) and Simon Horleston (second left, and below) passed through a rigorous filtering process to attend the European Innovative Education Forum gathering in Berlin where they won recognition for their work.

By John Galloway
"The time has never been more right for innovators to act, because the system is broken and needs major change." That's the belief shared by Dan Buckley (right), research and development director of consultancy firm Cambridge Education, when he's talking about education in the 21st century.

He gained his reputation for a systemic approach to innovation, along with several awards for his creative use of ICT to transform the curriculum when he was teaching. But being singled out for recognition does not fit easily with his approach to innovation. "We are defining innovation wrongly," he explains. We've got a hero innovation model."

Lord David Puttnam
By John Galloway

"For 30 years I made movies, and each movie is an innovation in itself," explains Oscar winning Lord David Puttnam (above), speaking in that clear, soft, easily recognisable voice amidst the background buzz of the House of Lords visitors bar. "You start off with an idea and your job over a period of months, or years, is to bring it to the screen. If you didn't have either the guts, or the tenacity, or the patience to do that, you can't be a film maker." All of which are qualities he believes are necessary to see any innovation through; many of which he has to his credit, including several in education, one of his passions.