This week, our CEO, Sarah Ledger has been at the FED (Foundation for Education Development) National Education Summit in Liverpool.
Here, as she reflects on delegates literally being placed in ‘Room 101’ at the venue, she ponders what we should finally be resigning to Room 101 in an education sense, if we’re really to create the future landscape we need.
Oh the irony. I find myself placed, literally, in a room titled ‘101’ at a major education event, where the key theme is exploring what we should leave behind and move forward with, for tomorrow’s education landscape.
This year’s FED National Education Summit was a hugely impressive and engaging opportunity for people like myself, giving us the chance to talk among peers, influencers, educators and change-makers.
Appropriately enough (given that Room 101 context), this year’s theme for the conference was ‘People, place, policy - shaping our education system for the next decade’.
The event opened with a passionate speech from Carl Ward, Chair of the FED, who powerfully set out FED’s call for a long-term strategy for education, ensuring that the very education landscape which students are part of, is wholly fit for them and their purpose.
Also delivering important speeches, was the likes of Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region.
He set out his case for a regionalised approach to education strategy, using devolution to, in effect, ‘de-Londonise’ the education agenda.
Is that another element which needs to make it into Room 101 I ask myself? That we should find a way of truly disposing of the London-think and focus? That we instead become more focused on what education (and recipients of it) need in specific areas?
Throughout the day my colleague and I were able to dip into some other really useful and thought-provoking sessions.
· Sir Michael Barber and Valerie Hannon in discussion on a ‘new politics’ for education transformation
· A session entitled ‘Does Ofsted require improvement?’. Clearly a timely panel discussion, which was delivered to a packed-out lecture theatre. Lord Jim Knight, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Meena Wood and Liz Robinson all gave frank opinions and insight
· Sessions around recruitment, retention, and teacher training. These looked at how education for the next decade needs to make sure teachers have the correct and most highly and appropriately tuned skills.
This extended into discussion around the need to make teaching an attractive career. This speaks to the idea that we need to change the old narrative of 'Those that can, do, and those who can't, teach'.
· Teacher and student mental health and wellbeing was also on the agenda, with sessions lead by academics from Liverpool John Moores University and Manchester Metropolitan University
· The summit ended with a panel discussion reflecting on the challenge ahead, and questioning the need for a cross political party view and approach to ensure the fourth industrial age we are in involves a long-term solution to education.
As you can well imagine, these are all themes which come up time and again in our interactions with schools, their staff, and their pupils, through our daily Lexonik engagement.
I spent much of my time in conversation, emphasising our ‘on the ground’ insights, and also, as you would expect, banging the drum about literacy as the bedrock of societal opportunity.
My thoughts are that if we truly believe that reading is the roots to accessing society and all it offers, then we simply have to make sure that all human beings can read – no matter their starting point, and no matter what other challenge or hindrance might seem to be in the way.
Without being able to read you cannot participate fully – it’s as simple as that.
Life is limited in every sense by illiteracy.
You can't flourish and thrive if you cannot read, so we absolutely should not have youngsters leaving school and college without this skill.
As for Room 101? I think we can all agree there’s a great deal about the education of recent years which should be confined to such a place.
But what do we bring forward? What do we insist on for the future?
At the very least, I argue, is the dogged determination to build and sustain the roots of literacy for all.
Please feel free to email me directly with your thoughts. I’d love to chat to you more about the fantasy ‘Education Room 101’.
If you’d like some more help from us, you can find out more about our literacy interventions here or you can contact us to talk to one of our dedicated members of staff about what we can offer your school.