Having followed events such as Northern Rocks on Twitter in the last couple of years, it was great to finally get to one of these events along with two colleagues. We booked with enthusiasm in January, looked forward to it and thenif we’re honest in the midst of a busy term, woke up yesterday morning wondering if we were mad to be getting on a train at 7am on a Saturday to head up to Leeds.
Inevitably there will be specifics to blog about and more importantly to implement in my day job but more of that later. Now a day after a fantastic but tiring day some initial thoughts
It is worth stating 1 simple fact – 500 teachers gave up their Saturday and travelled the length of the country to attend this event. As teachers we are ridiculously busy and our time is precious; we despise having our time wasted – as any manager whose meeting has overrun by 5 minutes knows to their cost. The willingness of so many to give up a day to develop and improve should not be underestimated. I wonder whether any of the leading politicians around education were aware it was happening. Despite the event trending on Twitter there was no mainstream media coverage because this is good news about the overwhelming commitment of the many. However the incompetence of the few makes for better headlines.
Secondly, these are professionals taking matters into their own hands. There is a healthy scepticism regarding the whims of policy makers and the ever changing demands of Ofsted. There is a healthy respect for research and a desire to recieve for the wisdom of those still in the classroom. If there was a revolution starting here, its themes were ‘leave us alone, let us learn from each other because we can improve what we do by ourselves.’ Here were people committed to improving students lives not jumping through hoops.
Although the politics around education, areas of concern such as teacher recruitment and Ofsted were addressed in the panel debates, this was not an event for the staffroom whingers. It was refreshing to be surrounded by so many positive people and to actually be inspired by CPD rather than talked through some dull PowerPoint. It was great to discover that people whose work I have been reading over the last year such as John Tomsett are every bit as inspiring in real life.
On the train home we talked about how easy it is to become flat and ground down in teaching. There is always something you haven’t done, there’s usually someone who will delight in telling you. We also talked about some of the things we learned during the day and how we could use them. A day at Northern Rocks is not a magic cure for all the ills of education but it is a pretty good start.