London, Wednesday 21st March 2012.
The aim of the conference was to take advantage of increasing freedoms available to schools and learn about how educators can provide outstanding teaching and learning by:
- helping young people develop a range of skills, qualities, knowledge and qualifications;
- helping make learning more relevant and engaging, with young people owning their own learning;
- supporting learning beyond school and the classroom and engaging the wider community in learning.
These aims obviously have shared links with the work of 360 People and even though their patrons, Sir Tim Brighouse and Professor Mick Waters were not in attendance at this event, Jo Shuter, David Crossley and John Dunford were present…forthright, articulate and illuminating.
According to the blurb on their website, Whole Education promised a ‘one day conference that would support schools by hearing from leading educationalists’…and that is exactly what we got.
John Dunford, Chair of Whole Education, explored the current policy climate and reflected on the challenges and opportunities facing school teachers in providing a ‘whole education which would help young people be work ready, life ready, ready for life-long learning’…a belief shared by 360 People.
Headteacher, Jo Shuter talked about the achievements made at Quintin Kynaston Community Academy, where the emphasis is on community. Using an extended schools model, QKCA is very much a school that acts as a hub for meeting the needs of the learners and the families. Jo explained that rather than leaving your baggage at the gates, young people were encouraged to ‘bring your baggage in and we will work together to remove the barriers to your learning…so that we can help you become responsible, active citizens’.
Jo emphasised the need for clear and decisive leadership at all levels, ‘forensically-focussed on achievement and attainment’. This is balanced with the importance of relationships between students and staff, who are there to be role models. At QK, there is a focus on maintaining stability amongst the staff, who recognise the power of nurturing and learning, and are committed to their own professional development.
At QK, staff and students alike are encouraged to:
- Have a ‘Can Do’ mentality;
- Learn, adapt and change;
- Be creative…creating new boxes, not just thinking outside the original ones;
- Ask for help where needed.
David Crossley, Executive Director of Tribal’s Inspirational Schools Partnership, shared his experiences working with schools in Nashville,Tennessee. He urged us to ‘embed a sense of urgency and a push for success with a culture of optimism and enthusiasm’.
We were then given opportunities to learn in breakouts about innovative projects and initiatives to enrich the curriculum and provide a more rounded education. It really was a difficult decision regarding which of the Whole Education Partners sessions to attend.
My break-out scribblings are indicative that I really need to finally come off the fence and decide whether to buy the Asus Transformer Prime or i-Pad.2 or 3.
Legible or not, many thanks to:
- Michelle Thomas, Executive Headteacher, Grazebrook and Shacklewell Primary Schools in Hackney, for her insights into the International Primary Curriculum. I hope to visit and find out more soon…
- David Turrell, Executive Headteacher, Sir Bernard Lovell School and Sandra Stalker from Better Bac. The links between their curriculum and the 360 People framework are very close indeed…
- Alison Cooke, Headteacher at Russell House School and David Malam, Headteacher at Twickenham Prep School for their experiences in using Mind Lab and strategy games to impact on standards, the ability to socialise and nurture attention spans.
- Max Jeffrey, Student Director and Susan Piers-Mantell, Executive Director of Learning to Lead who demonstrated the active roles that teams of young people can adopt.
Special thanks to;
- Pat Cochrane from Cape UK…always great to catch up with a creative from the North;
- Alan Bailey, Deputy Headteacher at Charles Dickens School, Kent…for insights into the South;
- Phil Avery, Assistant Headteacher at Bohunt School, Hampshire…for explaining just some of the amazing curriculum at his school.
- Roger Billing from the Wroxham Transformative Learning Alliance…for being inspirational and sharing outstanding practice;
- Douglas Archibald, Rosie Palmer and rest of the team at Whole Education for ensuring the success of the event;
- @suklaa for tales about gay penguins in Edinburgh Zoo, back in 1988…one day you will have to tell me more. On a serious note, check out Suklaa Media and Education for great ideas, find out more about the team and what they can offer.
The event clearly fulfilled its aims and provided yet more ideas for discussion about partnership work. I encourage you to visit the links, explore and find out more.
Whose Curriculum is it, Anyway? Ours and the learners with whom we share our journeys…
Bryn Llewellyn, 21 March 2012