President Mike Griffiths talks about the ASCL Annual Conference and how it was a highly positive experience. Expand
President Mike Griffiths talks about the ASCL Annual Conference and how it was a highly positive experience.
From the fantastic Northampton School for Boys (NSB) Jazz Big Band opening the conference, to the great range of keynote speakers, this was a conference big on ‘positivity’ – the espoused theme for my presidential year!
The two days seamlessly moved from one highlight to another, and I am hugely grateful to our guest speakers, presenters and session chairs. Delegates responded positively, and for many it is the ‘professional development’ experience of the year – every year!
The secretary of state agreed to be lightly grilled by Gerard Kelly, and the session was a mixture of light-hearted banter and incisive challenging questioning from Gerard and the floor. Michael Gove was, as ever, robust and eloquent, but gave no quarter on the government’s apparent insistence, despite urgings from almost everyone else, that AS and A levels are to be de-coupled.
Stephen Twigg, Michael Gove’s shadow, called for politicians to step back and let the professionals lead on educational matters. Let us hope that if given the chance, he sees this through!
John Cridland gave the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) perspective. Delegates were impressed by his passion and desire to work with ASCL and the education sector to improve the life chances of young people and the prosperity of the nation.
An interesting debate on the curriculum demonstrated John Cridland’s continuing enthusiasm, as well as warmth from delegates towards his proposals some years ago for the 14-19 curriculum. Perhaps their time will come?
Sir Michael Wilshaw urged school leaders to join Ofsted inspection teams, and help them get consistent judgements. And Melissa Benn produced a tour de force with her engaging critique of state education over the last 40 years and with her passionate call for locally accountable, truly comprehensive, schools for all.
Brian’s inspirational speech called for governments to listen and not rely on what ‘they think’ may work, but to base decisions on evidence. He asked for a second ‘Great Debate’ that would involve all stakeholders. We need consensus about direction, and need then to be left to get on with it!
My own speech was a personal reflection. I emphasised the importance of leaders being the most positive and optimistic people in their schools and colleges. Strategies were suggested, the most heartfelt being the importance of the ‘co-curriculum’ and a call to not waste the ‘Olympic Legacy’. Finally, Anthony Nolan. Keith Sudbury from R&Be (Register & Be a Lifesaver – see ‘Focus on’ on page 27) told of his son Adrian’s losing battle with cancer, but determination to make a difference. The organisation visits schools and colleges and encourages students aged 16 or over to register.
Nick Easton and George Attwell – NSB boys who acted as ‘hosts’ throughout the conference – introduced Matt Herbert, a boy at ‘our school’ who was ‘matched’, had a bone marrow transplant, and is now a peer of theirs in our sixth form. The video also featured Matt Smith from Dr Who – an old student of the school who urged all present to support Anthony Nolan.
If the conference achieved nothing else, to have inspired more than 100 schools to have ‘signed up’ will be some legacy! If you weren’t there, then, first, sign up with R&Be and, second, sign up for conference next year!