I went to Northern Rocks yesterday, and it was incredible. I’ve been teaching for 10 years and I can say, hands down, that was the best CPD I’ve ever, ever experienced.
There were many great things about the day, and probably my favourite moment was a hug with the lovely Sue Cowley! But what really stood out to me was the hugely high quality of all the speakers. We genuinely have some outstanding educators in this country. We have people with huge credibility because they have been there and done it. They stand, or have stood, in a classroom day in day out, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. They have retained their passion, enthusiasm and altruistic motives over many years, through many changes of government. They are expert communicators who can connect with and inspire their teacher audience because they know them inside out. They are intelligent, well-read, well-researched people who are experts in their field. They understand the big picture of education and can join the dots, from early years to HE, from government policy to classroom practicalities. They’re also mostly really funny and entertaining and it was a pleasure to learn from them.
At the end of the day we were asked to send a postcard to Nicky Morgan and although I couldn’t fit it all on, these are the things I think we need from Nick Gibb and Nicky Morgan the most:
We need Nick and Nicky to have the wisdom to realise that going to school when you were a child doesn’t mean you know everything about education. We need them to realise that things decided in an office in London can seem like a great idea, but you need the wisdom to know what will actually work on the ground.We need them to realise that it isn’t wise to only talk to the people who will agree with you and say yes to whatever you want to happen.
We also need Nick and Nick to stop being so defensive and really listen to educators. SPaG knowledge really isn’t going to make children into better writers. Quoting national data on teacher training doesn’t help schools who can’t recruit and won’t be fully staffed for September. Saying you’ve ring-fenced the education budget doesn’t explain why support staff are being made redundant. Be humble enough to admit that there are problems and ask people (like the ones above) for solutions. They might just surprise you.
Finally, we need Nick and Nicky to realise that there are loads of amazing things already going on in our schools. If they had any experience of teaching, they’d know the best way to motivate and engage people is positive reinforcement. Words like thank you, great job, well done, aren’t very hard to say, but go a long way towards improving morale.
This Saturday, 500 positive, enthusiastic, happy teachers got together to help each other and learn how to do a better job for their children. Surely that’s something worth celebrating?