Everything we learnt on the first day of the 2019 Festival of Education


Everything we learnt on the first day of the 2019 Festival of Education

Once a year, the best and the brightest of education come together for two days to discuss best practice and research at the Festival of Education, one of the best CPD events for educators.

We had the privilege of being invited to speak three times over the two days this year, and took that opportunity to go see as many speakers as we could – so, here are the highlights from the first day for us…

InnerDrive’s talks

We can’t write this blog without mentioning our own talks, as both rooms were packed and we’re still buzzing from it...

First was our own founder and director Edward Watson talking about ‘Developing Metacognition in The Classroom: Practical, Simple Strategies’. Based on the latest psychological research, this session clarified common metacognition misconceptions as well as highlighted practical tools and techniques to help teachers develop their students metacognitive abilities. For a slightly more thorough summary of the session, check out our livetweet of it.

Our second session ‘5 Ways to Help Student Learn and Revise Better’ was led by InnerDrive’s in-house psychologist Bradley Busch. Within this session, Bradley explored the most effective learning strategies such as retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving and the importance of sleep. Bradley also offered simple guidelines for how teachers can use these strategies with their students to maximise exam results. Have a look at our livetweet of this session here.

But enough about us. Here are the most important things we learnt on the first day of the 2019 Festival of Education…

What we saw in Period One

First up for us was Nicola Morgan, who spoke about mental toughness and resilience. This session gave us an overview of resilience as well as effective ways to teach and implement it within the classroom. Nicola shared her 4 top tips to helping children develop resilience:

  • First, help students create a sense of purpose;
  • Second, let students make mistakes;
  • Third, give students choices and options and support them in the problem solving process;
  • Fourth, ask students who they want to have supporting them, illustrating this through giving student a ‘Supporting Five’.

Nicola shared other useful resources for measuring and learning about resilience.

Another talk we attended was David Rycroft’s, which was all about what skills make us most future-ready. Key themes throughout the session included goal setting and mindfulness, demonstrated through questions to help develop awareness such as ‘How do I envision my own flourishing?’ and ‘What inner qualities would I like to develop?’. There were some interesting discussions with the attending educators as well - for example, a teacher mentioned that they use a couple minutes of mindfulness at the beginning of their lessons to help their students be more present and attentive. We really agree with this and have even blogged about it recently.

What we saw in Period Two

Natasha Devon’s session on mental health in education was amazing. A key theme underpinning this session was that we should be concerned with ‘mental fitness’ rather than health - whilst we can’t just erase our diagnoses, we can certainly build skills to help us feel better. Natasha shared three key strategies schools can use for better student mental fitness:

  • Teaching critical consumption, meaning the awareness of what we give attention to especially in the digital world.
  • Using inclusive language throughout our practice, especially for the sake of students who are LGBTQ+, part of a minority and/or have learning difficulties.
  • Thinking beyond words: help student practice using emotional terms long before there is a crisis, so they know how to vocalise their issues. To find out how to help develop emotional intelligence in students check out our blog on the subject.

We also saw Oliver Caviglioli who spoke about dual coding. Oliver demonstrated what dual coding looks like, sharing with us that students remember more if you combine both words and pictures when displaying information. This is something we certainly agree with, and that we even recently blogged about here. Interestingly, it is also included in the new Ofsted framework.  

Hearing Jane Nolan (TES headteacher of the year 2018) speak was interesting. Jane shared her journey of taking a school located in a significantly deprived area at risk of special measures and changing it to one of the top 2% of primary schools in the country for progress. She highlighted 4 key areas used to aid this development: establishing relationships, raising aspirations, working on inclusion and student enrichment.

What we saw in Period Four

Tom Sherrington brilliantly delivered a motivating summary of Roshenshine’s work with some great ideas and principles to really work into teaching. Everything from reviewing material, questioning, sequencing and modelling and practice (from guided to independent) was discussed. We loved it - for those who were at his talk: we can agree that it was the opposite of Stercoraceous. Definitely get hold of his book Rosenshine's Principles in Action. If you need convincing, read our review of it here.

What we saw in Period Seven

After a superb lunch spent browsing the variety of stalls, we saw Rebecca Foster and Claire Hill whose session was titled, ‘When evidence-based practice goes wrong: lethal mutations and how to avoid them’. Throughout this session, we explored how knowledge organisers, interleaving, feedback and curriculum design have been wrongly implemented - and how to avoid doing so. A key message from this session was that ‘knowledge organisers should not be used as glorified revision posters or as the basis for a pub quiz’ and instead should be judicious, informed and reflective.

Next up was Christopher Atherton, whose session was titled ‘Engaging parents with evidence-based approaches to education’. Engaging parents to help make teaching in schools more effective is an important subject, and Atherton shared a good road map of considerations:

  • Identifying what you want parents to know and why;
  • Planning how best to communicate this to parents;
  • Teaching parents as directly as possible whilst giving them a chance to reflect and explore for themselves.

Be sure to look out for his upcoming book What every parent needs to know about education: how knowing the evidence can help your child succeed. In the meantime, check out our guide on how parents can help their child thrive at school here.

Our last session was a panel discussion about why we need more creativity with Asif Khan MBE, Christoph Woermann, Dr Helga Schmid and Chris Hildrey. The discussion sought to answer a tough question: can creativity best prepare young people for the future in an ever-changing, complex world? It was highlighted that creativity can be the key to getting us out of our time’s issues, by being clever with our use of limited resources. It was highlighted that creativity can help student’s self-awareness and opens them up to pursuing a number of interests and studies instead of focusing on just one area their whole life. Creativity is vitality important for students - check out how to improve it here.

See you next year, Wellington College...

What a great start to the Education Festival was day one. Thank you to the organisers for putting on such a great event, we can’t wait to see what day two brings, and already look forward to coming back next year!

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