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On Monday 25th February 2019, 450 educational facilitators, teachers and senior leaders descended on the spectacular International Conference Centre in Telford. The continued professional learning event, sponsored by Energy Check, was organised and hosted by the Alliance of Leading Learning who are part of the Marches Academy Trust. This was the fourth Alliance of Leading Learning conference building upon the outstanding success of the 2018 event and this year’s conference certainly delivered!
The event launched with a fascinating talk by guest speaker Paul Howard-Jones, a leading expert in Neuroscience and education. The professor’s particular interest in enhancing child learning really shone through as he spoke to delegates about the importance of eating breakfast as well as the neuroscience behind jellyfish swimming efficiency.
Delegates also had the opportunity to attend a number of informative workshops throughout the day. These sessions covered a variety of topics: How to Build Resilience in Learners, championed by Haroon Asghar; Practical Strategies to Enhance Engagement and Progress for Disadvantaged Pupils, lectured by Ian Nurser; along with a workshop talking about the Importance of Taking on a Challenge and Setting the Vision for Learning, delivered by Simon Bramwell.
At midday, former Crystal Palace, Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright gave an emotive keynote. The football superstar discussed how a challenging home life in his early years contributed to his disruptive behaviour in the classroom, which ultimately lead to a challenging start to school life. Ian went on to outline how meeting the impressionable figure of Sydney Pigden had made a resounding impression on him. The former teacher gave Ian the time and guidance he so needed to help him turn his life around through football and instilled in him the principle of a good work ethic and the importance of never giving up on your goals; principles that really struck a chord with all those in attendance.
Afternoon highlights included a very motivational talk by Matt Burton who rose to fame on Channel 4 documentary Educating Yorkshire. The Headteacher at Thornhill Academy spoke about the importance of being your best self and being consistent throughout the whole of the academic year to really encourage and engage students. The star also revisited the poignant emotional moment in which he helped Year 11 pupil Musharaf Asghar overcome his stammer by replicating a learning method inspired by the film the King’s Speech. The method was a huge success and it was fantastic to see the change in Musharaf’s confidence reading in front of his fellow peers, reinforcing the importance of the theme ‘Every learner matters’.
Executive Director for Alliance of Leading Learning, Cavelle Priestley-Bird commented, “I am thrilled that the event has once again proven to be such a success. It has given delegates a fantastic opportunity to challenge their thinking and broaden their professional knowledge to meet the needs of a challenging curriculum and also provided the opportunity for all participants to come together and take inspiration from the stories shared by our fantastic speakers.”
Plans for the next Alliance of Leading Learning Conference are already underway, with the event scheduled to take place on Monday 24th February 2020. The theme will explore “Navigating the Chameleon Curriculum”, equipping delegates and schools with the knowledge to successfully adapt to changes in the educational landscape. For further information and the latest news, keep an eye on the Alliance of Leading Learning website: www.leadinglearning.co.uk and social channels @ALLearning1.
Matt Burton (Keynote) – Headteacher, Thornhill Academy – Just want to say thank you for today – absolutely loved it! Lovely to work with great people genuinely working to improve children’s lives.
Rowena Kaminski – Associate Assistant Headteacher, Lower Heath CofE Primary School – I was truly inspired by all the speakers, but particularly Ian Wright’s poignant speech. It was so moving and was such a powerful way to remind us of the important job and huge responsibility we have for all our children. It also reminded me of all the pupils, like Ian, that I have taught and will teach and the great responsibility I have. I won’t ever forget it. I just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to attend the conference yesterday. It was fantastic CPD and the quality of the presenters was excellent! There was clearly a huge amount of work that had gone into putting the event together and the result was very impressive.
Sarah Abdulla – Headteacher, Teagues Bridge Primary School – Uplifting and Inspiring. The whole day helped me re-evaluate my role and what I can offer the children of the future. Best day ever professionally and personally.
Pauline David, Headteacher, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary School – I travelled from Birmingham to attend this conference after a really positive experience last year. I think this is far superior to many leadership conferences I have attended and I have coming away feeling refreshed and full of idea. Thank you.
Liz Peacock, Headteacher, Vantage Academies Trust – A fantastic event with lots to offer. I travelled home inspired to review practice in school linked to well-being / incorporating the function of the brain in terms of learning more into the curriculum.
Sarah Haines (Twitter) Assistant Headteacher, Malmesbury School – What an inspirational conference today – never cried (in a good way!) so much at a CPD event! Reminding us all why we do it and why we should carry on!