Due to the current Coronavirus crisis, the second Northern Celebration of Education, CelebrateEd was delivered as a virtual webinar series. However, that didn’t stop well over a thousand teachers from across the North East and beyond from joining us over four days for a line up of more than 40 sessions focussing on what teachers do at the chalkface.
As well as attracting big name speakers like Ross McGill, David Weston, Simon Hunt, Sam Twisleton and Amjad Ali, CelebrateEd is a celebration of all that our teachers do. With practical sessions from the classroom, quickfire teachmeets, and panel discussions between teachers, this event really showcased the best in teaching practice from classrooms across the North.
Kicking off CelebrateEd, Schools North East’s Director, Chris Zarraga, highlighted that during the ongoing crisis ‘schools and their staff truly have been the ‘Fourth Emergency Service’’ and that this deserves to be shouted about and celebrated. So it was more important than ever to ensure that this year’s Northern Celebration of Education went ahead, showcasing the hard work of the profession and combating the unfairly negative narrative that much of the media is currently peddling.
Tuesday’s keynote speaker Ross McGill gave an information packed session, looking at perceptions and challenges in the education sector, analysing what teachers and senior leaders find most difficult, and research informed methods of dealing with these issues. Emphasising the importance of research informed practice, the following session saw Deputy Head of Acklam Grange School, Jon Tait, talk about how to become ‘research informed’ and embed this in your school, department or personal practice.
The last session of the day brought together a host of frontline teachers: Alex Fairlamb from St Wilfrid’s RC College, Helen Tarokh from Heathfield Primary, Charlotte Fryett from St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, and James Wilson from Duchess High, looking at the ‘recovery curriculum’ needed for when schools return full-time. A key aspect of this was pupil wellbeing and mental health, something which all panelists emphasised as a priority before catching up with the ‘proper’ curriculum. This session left plenty of food for thought and was incredibly timely given many schools are looking at extending their opening in the next few weeks.
The second day of CelebrateEd just happened to fall on a mini heatwave, but even that didn’t stop teachers from tuning in live to be part of the event. Opening the day Schools North East Trustee Colin Lofthouse emphasised the importance of the grassroots educational culture our teachers are building, especially in light of current circumstances. Simon Hunt, Wednesday’s keynote speaker carried on with this theme, talking about how you can be innovative in your practice by embracing the connections that social and digital media offer us in the classroom. Examples from his own practice, inspiring students by connecting them with their favourite authors, and engaging students in topical environmental issues by connecting them with people and organisations around the world showed just how powerful that could be.
This idea of engaging students was explored further by David Bailey from Bishop Hogarth Education Trust, talking about how we use starters and what we can do to make the most of this, and not only ‘hook’ students but take the opportunity to dig deeper into a topic. Rounding off the day Amjad Ali looked at the barriers students face to learning in the classroom and practical things we can do to break them down. A great takeaway from his session which resonated with many delegates was the idea of ‘try, refine, ditch’, encouraging people to reflect on their own practice. This was a great concept not just for this session, but the conference as a whole, and we would love to hear what you are planning to ‘try, refine and ditch’ from the whole event – let us know on Twitter!
Of course, CelebrateEd is all about celebrating the work that our teachers do, so it was apt that the second day of the event fell on #ThankaTeacherDay. To celebrate, we had some fantastic performances and videos from students thanking their teachers for all of the hard work they do! This included pupils from Walkergate Community School, Benton Dene Primary and St Teresa’s Catholic Primary, as well as students from Barnsley College.
David Weston, CEO and Founder of Teacher Development Trust opened the third day of sessions discussing teamwork and collaboration, and what we can do to foster a better culture of this in our schools. Collaborating is a key element of the educational culture we aim to drive as part of our Ednorth programme so it was great to see David highlight how important it is and what teachers can do to develop this. Next up Sarah Birch from River Tees Multi Academy Trust talked delegates through managing responses to behaviour in a session she specifically adapted in light of the planned extended opening of schools. Providing us with practical strategies and specific advice around the behaviours we may see as more students return, Sarah highlighted the importance of meeting student’s psychological and emotional needs before trying to teach them. This again reiterates a common theme that mental health will be the topmost priority as students return.
After a short break, Dr Dave Walters from Exeter University returned to the topic of research and the impact that a whole school approach can have on student outcomes. After a short demo session from sponsor Sparx, in the final session of the day Sarah Cottingham from Ambition Institute looked at forming (and breaking) habits. Digging deeper into the psychology of how we form habits was really useful to help teachers both in their own practice, but also in thinking about how we can encourage students in forming positive habits. This will be incredibly useful in coming weeks and months as students need to learn new habits to make a return to school safe.
The final day of CelebrateEd began with a really practical ‘quickfire’ teachmeet featuring staff from schools across the region sharing tips and tricks in short 5 minute bursts. Teachers contributing included:
Amy Duke, Ribbon Academy with Retrieval Practice in the Primary Classroom
Sonia Herlingshaw and Neil Salter, Ironstone Academy looking at a Model for School Improvement
Alex Fairlamb, St Wilfrid’s giving us an Introduction to Metacognitive practices for self and peer assessment
James Hoyle, Skipton Girls High School exploring 5 effective formative assessment ideas
Louise Goodrum, Heathfield Primary with Helicopter Stories
Matthew Bainbridge, Unity City Academy looking at Lesson Observation Feedback and links with appraisal
David Greenshields,Grace College, Gateshead on Establishing Teacher Learning Communities
Next up was the final keynote of the event, Amjad Ali who gave an inspiring reminder about how important teaching is and combatted some of the negative press the profession has seen. Finally, the last session saw Sam Twisleton Director of Director of Sheffield Institute of Education explore the ITT framework and new Early Career Teacher Framework.
Rounding off the event Schools North East Chair John Hardy praised our ‘truly heroic’ teachers across the region and beyond who have been supporting schools and their families, as well as the all of the practitioners involved in the event who have shown that the North East teaching profession is really driving innovation in the profession.
Despite the challenges faced in the current situation, CelebrateEd proved to be a fantastic four days and we are pleased that so many teachers from the region and beyond could join us to see the fantastic work that teachers, and teachers in our region do.
If you missed the event, it is not too late! You can still join the event to access recordings of all the live sessions and all additional prerecorded sessions. Visit https://www.ednorth.uk/celebrateed for more information.