Tag Archives: festival

A Summer of Festivals Part III: EduFest Le Rosey⤴

from @ @robin_macp

The third and final instalment of this series is about EduFest at Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland, which debuted in 2019 and was back in 2022 after a COVID-enforced hiatus. It’s a start-up which has huge potential, bringing together educators from across Europe every two years. From what I saw, it has a bright future. 

If you want to find a venue for an education festival, then the vicinity of Lake Geneva is not a bad place to look. Le Rosey is one of the leading Swiss boarding schools and has made a strategic decision to move into thought leadership by running their own education festival. The ambition to make this a major European event is clear, though persuading local teachers to attend seems to be a harder task than attracting those from Germany, France, and the UK. 

The line-up was incredible, with Dylan Wiliam headlining and providing further sessions. Strands were curated by researchED and WomenED, and there was a good range of speakers presenting in French for the local audience. Content Director Kim Kovacevic and his team deserve a lot of credit for that, as do the logistics team run by Philippa Barton. It certainly had a festival atmosphere, helped by spectacular weather. The campus is a mixture of the traditional and the ultra-modern, and the main performing arts centre provides a stunning and perfectly-equipped venue for a range of sessions. 

Keynote – Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam): How Do We Prepare Young People For A World We Cannot Imagine?

The first thing to say is that if you haven’t seen Dylan speak, you really need to add that to your bucket list. He is very, very good. It’s a bit like watching a magician who pauses every so often to let you in on the trick. Dylan walked us through many aspects of educational and societal change, challenging orthodoxy and busting myths with ease. For example, we frequently hear that the increasing application of AI will destroy jobs, but the advent of the cash machine (which should have made many bank tellers redundant) actually increased jobs in the US over the long term because it allowed bank workers to focus on things that mattered more. This is why the only 21st century skill that matters is metacognition.

The one really competitive skill is the skill of being able to learn… We need to produce people who know how to act when they’re faced with situations for which they were not specifically prepared.

– Papert, 1998

Dylan then went through the many new ideas that we’ve seen in education over the past couple of decades, and his take on growth mindset is worth sharing widely. Essentially, there is no evidence yet to suggest that GM interventions have provided any meaningful impact in pupil learning. Here’s the evidence base he cited.

Dylan then called on us to be critical consumers of research. This slide is a very succinct and helpful steer on how we do that, by asking questions of research.

Overall, a tour de force from an educator who remains at the forefront of international thinking, and at the top of his game.

@robin_macp: Paradigm Shifts in Professional Learning

I ran back to back sessions on my book The Teaching Life, which was co-authored with Kate Jones (@KateJones_teach). You can read a review by Zoe Enser (@greeborunner) in Schools Week about it here. The talk crunched down some of the major arguments we make, such as taking control of your professional learning can enhance career planning, agency, and wellbeing. So much has changed in the world of professional learning, and not all of that due to COVID, but it has been an accelerator of sorts. We expand on Carl Hendrick’s argument that this is a golden age of professional learning, and pose challenge questions to the reader to get them to consider their own learning and career progression. 

One of my favourite riffs is about low cost/high impact professional learning. Here’s one of my slides which has ten such methods, so see how many of them you’ve done in the past year.

After both of my sessions we had a lively Q&A and interestingly the same difficult question was asked after each one: how do we evaluate professional learning effectively? That’s tough, and I spoke about grappling with this with the Teacher Development Trust a few years ago. This post has a little more about how they do that.   

Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam): Teacher Learning

Back for more, and this time the focus was on how we can develop as teachers to become better at what we do. There were four questions Dylan posed at the outset:

  1. What makes effective teacher learning?
  2. How should teacher meetings be organised?
  3. What doesn’t get done?
  4. How will we know if it’s working?

He spoke about the ‘Knowing-Doing Gap’ (Pfeffer, 2000) and I was particularly interested in Nonaka and Takeuchi’s model of knowledge creation and conversion (1995). We lose so much tacit knowledge in schools through experienced staff moving on, that we are always struggling to replace that.   

Never one to just identify a problem and leave it hanging, Dylan set out his model for teacher learning and communities (see the sides below), as well as the responsibility of senior leaders. He said that his wife, a headteacher of 20 years’ experience, describes herself as a ‘deflective leader’, meaning that she spends a lot of time deflecting nonsense away from her staff that comes from outside the school. I know what that feels like…

Carl Hendrick (@C_Hendrick): How Learning Happens

Carl has been busy since we co-authored ‘What Does It Look Like In The Classroom?’ in 2017, having written ‘How Learning Happens’ with Paul Kirschner (@P_A_Kirschner). He went through many of the key aspects of the book, challenging poor practice like ‘just Googling it’ and highlighting solutions, like the Dunlosky et al  (2013) study which shows the gap between what students actually do, and what they should do. Cognitive Load Theory was a core aspect of the talk, as well as the interesting work on engagement. If you want an excellent guide to how learning really happens, then look no further than this book. 

Tom Bennett (@tombennett71): How To Get Anyone To Do Anything – The Parent And Teacher Guide To Managing Children

I last saw Tom speak at researchED Scotland in Glasgow in February 2020 and since then he’s published Running The Room, which I strongly recommend. In his usual irrepressible form on stage, Tom set out the nature of the behaviour that we see in children, and the essential contention that behaviour is something that is learned, ergo it requires a curriculum. The mantra of ‘don’t just tell children how to behave, teach them’ is key; there is a pedagogy to this. He cited the document he produced for the DofE, Creating A Culture (2017), and his list of takeaways is very helpful indeed.

Behaviour is one of the toughest areas that teachers grapple with, but keeping it simple and consistent is a good way to improve things. This was a talk that gives you the confidence that this can, and will happen. 

Takeaways

The one downside to speaking twice is that you can’t get to as many sessions as you like, and it was a real shame to miss Adam Boxer, Becky Allen, Pedro de Bruyckere and Carli Ochs in particular, but I did get to finally meet Twitter pal Parm Plummer. It was also a pleasure to have another head from a Scottish school in tow, as Simon Brian from St Leonard’s in Fife came along and he also took the chance to visit some other Swiss schools for IBO experience. The chance to speak to educators from across Europe was a valuable opportunity, allowing us to compare notes about our respective systems. I hope this event grows and reaches a wider audience, and do check out the website for news about the next iteration in 2024. There’s a lot more to come. 

A Summer of Festivals Part II: Friday at #EducationFest⤴

from @ @robin_macp

The second day of the Festival of Education saw equal amounts of sunshine and political debate given that Boris (finally) resigned so there was a real buzz about the place. I managed to fit in sessions on classroom practice, social mobility, coaching and the BAMEed strand, so there was no rest for the wicked…

Nicholas Hopton (@RisbyDuck0): Going On A Bear Hunt – Making Desirable Difficulties Desirable 

After being in the bigger venues yesterday I wanted to start today with some pedagogy. The Maths and MFL Departments have a very different feel, as sessions are usually by teachers and about what they do in the classroom. The title of this one caught my eye, and it didn’t disappoint. Nicholas is Head of English at Bedford School, and in terms of being well versed on current pedagogical  thinking he certainly knows his stuff. This session (as the title suggests) was about Robert and Elizabeth Bjork’s work on desirable difficulties and how we make that happen during lessons. 

In Nicholas’ approach, lesson planning is structured around the Bear Hunt story with balancing classroom challenges (rivers, mud, forests and caves) with scaffolds (walking sticks, pathways and maps). Of course, when faced with an obstacle, pupils can’t go around it/over it/under it but have to go through it. It’s about creating obstacles that pupils can, with effort and just enough support, overcome. Nicholas also threw in some Ron Berger (feedback should be “kind, specific and actionable”), and I loved what he does every summer with his pupils. They write spy fiction, and afterwards the pupils publish their work and have a book launch. Overall, a very good session with a lot of practical advice that was grounded in the best of current thinking. 

Hashi Mohamed (@hm_hashi): Adventures in Social Mobility

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Hashi since we both went on a Remembering Srebrenica delegation to Bosnia several years ago. Since then he has become one of Britain’s most important voices on social mobility and race (you can hear more about his own story via his BBC Radio 4 documentary series and his book).

Hashi is the 8th of 12 children, born in Kenya to Somali parents. His mother was illiterate and his father was killed in a car crash. He came to the UK in 1993 at the age of 9, and couldn’t speak a word of English. He then went on to Oxford University and qualified as a barrister. If you think this is going to be an inspiring story of how hard work and grit leads to success, think again. Hashi is a critic of the concept of social mobility (both absolute and relative mobility) and argues that his story is the exception, not the rule. 

Hashi was keen to stress the importance of early years education.

“I really strongly believe that this period can make a huge difference in someone’s life. No period of life is as important as the first four years. It’s when the basic structures of your brain are established. They set the course for your life.”

When it comes to inherited poverty, he warns that “deprivation begins in the womb.”

Much like David Olusoga yesterday, Hashi is not a fan of “meaningless slogans and phrases” (what David called ‘deepisms’). Teachers tell children that ‘work hard and you can achieve anything.’ He was scathing about Michaela Community School (which is five minutes from where he lives). 

“Children should not be robots who walk silently in corridors. That school would not have worked for me, as a traumatised child. I promise you now that that environment would not and could not have brought out the best in me.” 

He was clear that we have to grasp the reality that the problems we face in society are far more profound than teachers can deal with. Yet despite this, teachers and parents will still be left to deal with the consequences of what happened over the past two years; sadly, we cannot rely on the current government to deal with that legacy. 

Another interesting contention he set out was this:

“Data does not show a direct link between education and social mobility. It isn’t there. It isn’t the determining factor. Education gets you to the starting line of a race. You then have to run it.”

He talks about some young people benefiting from a life that goes “From quad to quad to quad. You run from one manicured lawn to another. It is a life that is both straight and square.” For his own part, he broke into this by luck as much as anything else:

“I know that I have been lucky. Luck is an important factor to consider. Bad luck is easy to see, you can’t miss it. Good luck is something we often think is not actually luck, but something created by us.” 

It was a fantastic session with many important provocations, making it a natural successor to David Olusoga’s talk the day before.

Chris Munro (@CmunroOz) and Christian van Nieuwerburgh (@ChristianvN): GROWTH Coaching 

There was a significant strand on coaching and some of the key individuals in UK and international education were at the forefront of this, such as Rachel Lofthouse from CollectivED and Jim Knight. I didn’t manage to see them but did catch Chris Munro and Christian van Nieuwerburgh from Growth Coaching International doing a session which was really a live demonstration and analysis of the process involved in coaching. Christian asked for an audience volunteer, who happened to be a lecturer from Oxford University, and they went through a coaching discussion (she asked for assistance with how to be a better coach). Chris paused every so often to analyse the method with the audience. It worked very effectively and they referred to the GROWTH model, which Chris was keen to point out is not linear, but can be done in any order. 

I had a really good discussion with Chris afterwards (somehow he and I have managed to miss each other despite his long period of lecturing at the University of Aberdeen). I’m really interested in where coaching sits in terms of reflective practice, as my next book will be on that theme. He gave me a lot to consider and links to go away and read, so that was a big help. This is why the festival is so good; you can approach any of the speakers and ask them for advice and guidance. 

BAMEed (@BAMEedNetwork) Mentoring and Coaching – Effective Development Support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Educators

A really positive addition to the festival programme was a dedicated BAMEed strand, curated by Penny Rabiger (@Penny_Ten) (amongst others). Penny was in the audience and at one point reminded us that BAMEed was founded with both white and BAME educators on board, so that “it’s not a deficit model. We want to increase the racial literacy of white people who are in positions of power.” She also reminded us, when we hit the sensitive point of language and terminology, that “language is always dynamic and always inadequate.” For what my humble opinion is worth, we need many more people like Penny in education.

This was a lively panel chaired by Lizana Oberholzer (@LO_EduforAll), with Krupa Patel and Nazya Ghalib as the guests. The focus was on the network’s provision of pro bono coaching for three sessions, with continued support available thereafter. Contact can be made through the website and Lizana assigns the applicant a coach from the extensive and experienced BAMEed team. Krupa and Nazya gave a lot of insight into the way this works and what the experience has been like for them as coaches. Both are hugely experienced and I can imagine that anyone who has them for a coach is being really well supported. 

The discussion became very open with frequent questions from the floor, and I asked if the coaches tend to experience normative issues with coachees, or was it more specific due to the constituency? The panellists agreed that they see much more in the way of coachees dealing with issues of race and barriers, such as lack of representation. That is predictably sad, but BAMEed is providing support that will be game-changing in the long term.

Mindful of the discussion I had yesterday with Sanum Khan (@Sanumjkhan) and Kamraan Khan (@Kamraan1984) (who I sat next to at this session and we picked up where we left off) about the level of diversity seen in the regular festival session audiences and the BAMEed strand, I have to say that was again the case here. It’s brilliant that the festival has this strand, and I doubt there is much the organisers can do about audience footfall, but it was a really interesting point that Sanum makes about running two different PL programmes. Further thinking is needed on that point, but I had a great conversation with Penny at the end that will hopefully lead to further progress on this point in terms of teacher recruitment. Watch this space.  

Networking

Finally, if you haven’t already been persuaded to attend the festival in the future, consider the brilliant networking opportunities that it presents. I didn’t go to every single session because I spent so much time talking to people, many of whom I haven’t seen in a very long time. There are many areas where people can just sit and have some food, a coffee, or even a cocktail, and if you want to have a go at speaking then the outdoor ‘green room’ is amazing. I had a great lunch with Hashi Mohamed, Jim Heal, Sarah Donarski, Eva Hartell, Kim Kovacevic and others which was as good as going to any of the sessions. I strongly recommend putting in a pitch to be a speaker for 2023 via the website from September onwards.

That’s what makes this event so special; it genuinely is a festival rather than a conference, because the laid back approach, multiple stalls and activities, and sociable community it creates are wonderful. A huge thank you to Shane Mann (@shanermann) and his team (especially you, Adele Kilby!); you all did a great job. I’m delighted it’s back. 

A Summer of Festivals Part I: Thursday at #EducationFest⤴

from @ @robin_macp

After moving online during the pandemic, the Festival of Education at Wellington College was back on site and in person for 2022. It also moved date, coming in early July rather than late June, and that had no adverse impact on attendance or interest. With around 400 speakers and over 5,000 attendees over the two days, it’s back to being an essential part of the professional learning calendar. Here are some notes from the sessions I attended, and I’ve hyperlinked as much as I can to let you follow up the aspects that interest you most. If you want a sense of what it’s like, there’s a short highlights video here.

David Olusoga (@DavidOlusoga): Black and British – A Short Essential History

I began with a headliner, and he definitely did not disappoint. David spoke candidly about his personal experience (including being driven out of his family home by the National Front), his publishing career, and his belief that “histories are on the march”. He has multiple identities: Nigerian; half white working-class (with Scottish roots); black; and British. The book that helped him to make sense of these identities was Staying Power (1984) by Peter Friar, and he apologised for not writing children’s fiction sooner because he “looked down on children’s publishing, despite my own experiences.” He, and the publishing industry, are now making up for those mistakes.

He was very clear about the failures of the current education system. For GCSE History in 2020, for example, there were 59 options offered by the various exam boards. Only 12 of these cover black history, and even then only 5 are about black British history (the remainder are about slavery and civil rights in the USA). He said something that particularly resonated with me, as a history teacher:

“It shouldn’t have needed the murder of an African American outside a convenience store for change to happen… There is an enormous shift in attitudes that is being driven by an underlying generational change. The younger generation don’t believe that history is a place you go to be taught comforting myths.” 

Once we moved into the Q&A it really opened up on some huge issues. When asked about his views on Black History Month, he gave the most powerful defence of BHM I’ve ever heard.  Going back to 1987, it has been a significant vehicle for change. 

“It’s one of the greatest achievements of the black British community – a moment when we supercharge black history and turn up the volume. Teachers have used BHM as a battering ram against resistance to introducing this history to their school.” 

To argue that we need black history 12 months a year “sounds cool but is incredibly destructive…to call it tokenistic is ludicrous” especially as we don’t ever hear people challenging Holocaust Memorial Day on the same basis. He used the word “deepisms” to describe the kind of sloganeering that sounds good but is actually reductive and false – a point we’ll return to later with Hashi Mohamed. 

On EDI, he argues that “the legal and financial sectors are doing better than the liberal arts and education because we gave ourselves a free pass.” He also disagrees with the narrative of victimhood around slavery history:

“If you are descended from slaves you are descended from survivors. The last thing we should do is think about them as victims, there was resistance at every stage of their life. We should remember them as heroic.”

A final question that was very tough for David (or anyone) to answer came from a young woman at the front of the audience: what colour is your heart today? His answer?

“I believe in empathy. If we can be empathetic we can tell the history of any people. History makes you empathise with people and that’s the most valuable thing for children to learn.” 

Sir Anthony Seldon (@AnthonySeldon): 5 Things That Will Change in Education in the Next 10 Years and 5 That Won’t

If David Olusoga set the intellectual and moral tone for the festival, Sir Anthony Seldon brought the big picture and the bounce. Bear in mind that this was Boris Johnson’s denouement, when we had three education secretaries in a day, so Anthony was moving seamlessly between presentations and media interviews. His audience got the benefit of multiple riffs on current politics throughout, much to their delight. 

He began with an overview of the Times Education Commission in discussion with political journalist Rachel Sylvester. The Commission focused on what people outside the education system want to see, not what the education system wants for itself. This was driven by concern at the increasing narrowing of the system, and a desire for change across different sectors of society. The consensus that emerged was that “education should not be done to children and teachers, but with them and for them.” The UK is being left behind internationally, compared to forward thinking systems like Holland (which leads on wellbeing) and Estonia (which leads on robotics). Here:

“one third of young people are told that they have failed by age 16 and those are disproportionately from the most disadvantaged areas of society. One third leave school with mental health issues.” 

So Anthony posed us a question: in the next decade, what five things will change and what will stay the same? He gave us some time to consider our answers to that, and as he went through his list he challenged us to see if our predictions were aligned. 

So what will change? He definitely sees a change to exams, development of the curriculum, family engagement in education (the idea of ‘porous walls’ was floated), the use of technology (especially AI and green-tech) and the impact of EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion). And what will stay the same? Pathways into higher education, early years education, support for parenting, and the political control of the system. 

Some of the stats he presented were terrifying. In the last 10 years government spending on health has gone up 42% compared to just 4% in education. He didn’t feel that funding, or the position of teachers and staff will change a great deal. Ofsted was deemed too confrontational, with only 1% of teachers believing it led to positive changes in their school. 

On political change, his prediction was that we wouldn’t see a general election until 2024 and that Wes Streeting will replace Sir Keir Starmer as Labour leader before that. You heard it here first. He then finished in a very upbeat note, which was well received:

“Learning is an extraordinary joy when we set it up in the right way. We have a natural desire to learn.” 

Panel: The Importance of Teacher-led CPD

This had a formidable line-up consisting of Rae Snape (@RaeSnape), Nikki Cunningham-Smith (@NikkiCuSmith) and Adrian Bethune (@AdrianBethune), and they did exceptionally well to battle the heat in the marquee. There was early emphasis on the importance of dialogic communities, meaning “teachers reading the same research and debating it.” I saw this just before I did my own session and was pleased to hear the importance of school visits, using social media, and reading groups as methods of effective and informal professional learning. There was also reference to the DofE’s Standards for Teachers’ Professional Development document which emphasises that “Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.”

Adrian cautioned about anything that might be the ‘next big thing’, with a reference to the recent EEF report about cognitive psychology. Is this a case of academic research being transferred into the classroom as a lethal mutation? This led to a point being made by Nikki that you have to be careful about what you embed and how you evaluate that, as with multiple new initiatives being launched it can lead to a very varied experience for pupils as they move from one classroom to the next. She put it very well when she said “if you are interested in it and believe in it, it will be sustained over time.” 

There was an interesting discussion at the end about the best CPD that the panellists had ever done. For Nikki this was a 3-day course by Bill Rogers on behaviour with the takeaway being that “learning to be a better practitioner doesn’t look like everyone thinks it does.” Rae added the importance of having a headteacher community around you, and shared her idea of having an academic in residence (one that I think has real value). She is setting up an ‘empathy lab’ which will include three teachmeets per term, and will share more information in due course. 

My Session: The Teaching Life – How to Build Your Career Through Effective Professional Learning

I won’t spend much time on my own session, as Sarah Donarski (@s_donarski) has very kindly written a detailed piece about it here. It was based on my book with Kate Jones (@KateJones_teach) on professional learning and career development. I will share one slide below which consists of challenge questions for teachers about their career, so perhaps have a go at them and see if you can provide answers to them all.

After I spoke, I had a really fascinating conversation with Sanum Khan (@Sanumjkhan) and Kamraan Khan  (@Kamraan1984) who approached me from the audience. Their challenge was why were they the only non-white educators at my session, and why was the BAMEed strand the converse? I honestly couldn’t answer that but it started a theme that was continued the next day (and beyond). For more on that how that unfolded, see part II of this mini-series of summer festival blogs.

That wrapped up a pretty epic first day, with a lot to reflect on.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Baillie Gifford ImageGlow TV is off to the Edinburgh International Book Festival again this year to cover author sessions from the Baille Gifford programme and you can join us too live from your classroom from Monday 24th August.

This year we are covering 13 different events ranging from events suitable for Primary 2 all the way up to sessions for S4 students. Why not visit the Glow TV schedule to find out more and regsiter to join us live from Charlotte Sqaure in Edinburgh?

We look forward to ‘seeing’ you there!