Vision Tour Update | STEAM, London & the wonderful Becky Parker

How could we travel to the northern hemisphere and not connect with our dear friend, and now ‘Professor’, Becky Parker from the Langton Star Centre. Just about every SCIL Vision Tour has met with Becky, her students and the team at Simon Langton Grammar School (SLGS). In 2016, we are doing it a little differently.

In March this year Becky launched IRIS - the Institute for Research in Schools. The mission or IRIS is “education beyond schooling” to transform the student and teacher experience of science. With the idea that being involved in real science inspires young people and is the best professional development for teachers.

Once you meet Becky you know that she is excited and passionate, about science, learning and life! SLGS has one of the best track records in the UK for students studying physics at Oxford and Cambridge. The school itself has a reputation for providing opportunities for student learning beyond the school gates. Becky is also a great champion of girls in science.

But this year, we won’t be travelling to Kent to see Becky, but in downtown London, at the Science Museum. Becky will meet with us and talk about real science education and her project “students as scientific researchers“. The afternoon could be spent exploring the Science Museum, visiting the nearby V&A and Natural History Museum. It’s a fly-in-fly-out visit to London, arriving the night before and departing the following morning for Reykjavik.

Find out more about Professor Becky Parker:

Vision Tour 2016: Creating Space for STEAM

Join Stephen Harris and Anne Knock for the 2016 Europe Vision Tour. For the past few years Stephen and Anne have hosted international study tours, taking school principals, system administrators and architects to visit schools, universities, libraries, museums and other places of learning and work. 

Stephen is the principal of Northern Beaches Christian School, which has been described as one of the most innovative schools in the world. He is in demand as a conference speaker and consultant on rethinking school for this and future generations. 

Anne is the Director of Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL), the professional learning centre at NBCS. She works with schools in Australia and around the world who are seeking to learn from the innovative learning, school design and culture. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 8.35.41 am.png



Finland  |  9-13 October
Sunday 9 October    Participants arrive at accommodation in Helsinki. The group meet together for dinner at a local restaurant on the Sunday evening, to get to know their new travelling companions.

Monday 10 - Wednesday 12    Helsinki and Espoo - we will visit schools and gain insight into the Finnish education system. Read Anne Knock's recent post about phenomenon-based teaching in Finland.

The Finnish education system is internationally recognised for high quality teaching and equity of access for all students. We start the tour visiting schools Viherkallio and Saunalahti in Espoo and Toumela School in Hameenlinna.

Saunalahti School is a primary through to secondary school. The school design asked the questions: How does the physical school environment affect the learning results? Could a school building also serve the larger audience as well? Saunalahti School Exemplifies Finnish School Architecture

In the new school year, commencing August 2016 Finnish schools are rolling out curriculum reform, Phenomenon-based Teaching. While specific subjects are taught maths, history, arts and music; in addition to this, transversal competencies will work across the school subjects. Read more here. We are also organising a session with the Finnish National Board of Education to unpack this a little more.

In addition to schools, we will also visit universities - Aalto Design Factory at Aalto University is a cross-disciplined, flexible, 24/7 space. Helsinki University in the downtown area has a beautiful library designed by Anttinen Oiva Architects.

Helsinki University Main Library, taken by Mika Huisman

Helsinki University Main Library, taken by Mika Huisman

We will conclude our time in Finland by spending the morning at Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre. Sharing the enthusiasm for learning in an environment for inspiration, based on a foundation on research and science, creating world-class exhibitions and experiences.

Reykjavik, Iceland  |  14-15 October
Thursday 13 - Sunday 16    Schools and universities, with a particular focus on technology and online learning that have been embraced by this small island nation.
Friday evening: take a Northern Lights tour
Saturday: free to explore and perhaps to take a day tour.

Sunday is a travel day.

The main strengths of the Icelandic education system are relatively small achievement gaps between schools, the fact that students generally feel happy at school, and a school system that is both flexible and not overly centralised. Iceland leads the way among the European countries when it comes to the capacity of adults to use information technology.

In Iceland we will visit two places for learning - Verzlunarskóli Íslands, an independent secondary school and Keilir, a post-secondary college. Both with interesting distinctives. Verzlunarskóli Íslands is the oldest independent school in Iceland. As a commitment to providing educational access to students across Iceland Verzlunarskóli Íslands was an early adopter of online learning, using Moodle as the LMS.

Keilir Aviation Academy is located out of Reykjavik, close to the airport. Each year Keilir hosts an international conference and workshop on flipped learning. The school has become a frontrunner in reinventing educational practices and possibilities within the Icelandic educational system through innovative educational approaches and bringing together business, industry, academia and entrepreneurs.

On the Friday night in Reykjavik you may like to take a Northern Lights Tour and Saturday is free to explore.


Amsterdam, The Netherlands  |  16-19 October
Community, technology and the arts and design will be the focus of the visit to Netherlands. Many places in the cities become the gathering and connection points, with a burgeoning start-up culture. The Amsterdam City Library has been described as the community’s living room. NEMO Science Centre attracts schools during the week and extended families at the weekend to immerse themselves in the ‘doing’ of science through play and discovery. Have you ever found yourself inside a great big bubble?

In Delft is a very pretty, typical Dutch town about 40 minutes from Amsterdam, much of the population attending TU Delft (University).  TU Delft commissioned Mecanoo to design a library that would be the heart of the university and give a face to a campus the size of a city district. Nearby is the newly rebuilt Department of Architecture.

In May 2008, the building housing the Delft University of Technology's Faculty of Architecture caught fire. Subsequently, five firms were hired to transform the nearly 100-year-old, 32,000-sm (345,000-sf) building into BK City, the new home for the school of architecture. The atria spaces add some grandeur and transparency and a bright orange ziggurat designed to house The Why Factory, an independent research unit. (pic here) On the other side of town is the DOK Library, reinventing the the idea of the library for the community.

Barcelona, Spain  |  20-21 October
Thursday 20    School visit at Collegi Montserrat, an outstanding example of future-focused learning. 

“Montserrat School is a school where everybody learns something” Howard Gardner

Collegi Montserrat is committed to providing a global education for their students. The school has more than 1000 students from pre-school through to IB. Montserrat teachers believe in students as the protagonists of their learning. The learning is highly differentiated.

At Montserrat Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences are used to celebrate and further develop students’ individual differences. They encourage deep learning, based on real-life experiences, from different starting point. A collaborative approach is encouraged within a project-based learning framework.

Friday 21    In the morning we will take an architecture walking tour of Gaudi’s designs. Walking down the streets of Barcelona we cannot escape the genius and the folly of the work of Gaudi. From the majesty of Sagrada Familia to the playfulness of Park Guell. On the final morning together we will take a walking tour, with a focus on the work of Gaudi. It will not include entry to the key attractions, but participants can arrange to explore these further in the afternoon, or across the weekend.

The SCIL Vision Tour concludes at midday on the Friday. Participants are able to make arrangements and stay in Barcelona a few days, or commence travel home that afternoon.



General Information

Tour groups are usually between 10-12 people. All tour costs are included, between the start and finish date. This includes quality accommodation and breakfasts, travel and transfers, activities and professional inputs, as well as several dinners and lunches as specified in the final itinerary, other meals are at own expense.

Please see the expression of interest form below.

The Details


9 - 21 October (12 nights)


A generous budget is allocated for accommodation & within currency fluctuations 4-star standard of hotels are sought.


All tour related transport is included in the cost of the tour (flights between tour destinations - starting in Helsinki, concluding in Barcelona).


All breakfasts are included with hotel bookings. Some dinners and lunches as specified in final itinerary (other meals are the participants own expense).

Dietary requirements may not always be accommodated. Affected participants are advised to bring some snacks.

Cost (Earlybird rates registration & payment received before 17 June, 2016)

Earlybird full participant single: $AU 8,900
Full Payment Single: $AU 9,300

Plus $AU 2,500 for non-participatory partner if applicable (not participating in the daily activities. Supplement covers additional hotel cost and breakfast, airport transfers and dinner as specified in itinerary). 

Earlybird full participant twin-share (per person): $AU 6,100
(For 2 people, travelling together both known to each other).
Full rate: participants sharing a room (per person): $AU 6,500


Important Information

Travel outside the dates of the tour - to and from your home city.
Dinners and lunches not specified in the itinerary.
Personal travel insurance (essential).
Personal items.

Other Considerations
Participants are required to manage their own luggage.
There may be days with considerable walking.
Dress code is smart casual in European schools.
October can be cold in Scandinavia (daytime temp 5 - 12 degrees) and warmer in Barcelona (20+ degrees).
Visas aren't required for Australians travelling to Europe.
Comprehensive travel insurance is compulsory.
Participants should show more than 6 months on the expiry of passports.