Kennet Festival of Learning
Last week we hosted a fantastic inset event which we named ‘The Kennet Festival of Learning’. The aim was to share ideas and discuss the topics which matter most to us as a school. We chose three key priorities—literacy, assessment and mindset—which were the focus for the seminars and keynote talks throughout the day.
The quality of the different morning sessions on offer was excellent and I am hugely grateful to those who contributed their ideas and shared their hard work. Whilst the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, the impact was also evident in the way these ideas spilled over into conversations during coffee and lunch.
For me, the most exciting part of the day was the ‘Learning Marketplace’ in the afternoon where departments had prepared ‘stalls’ to share their ideas, resources and approaches. There was an incredible buzz in the room and I was left feeling truly inspired by the talent and enthusiasm that teachers brought to this event. Photographs and further details can be found here.
As part of my talk at the beginning of the day I talked about the fact that inset can often fail to have the lasting impact that we hope it will. I shared this quotation from Atul Gawande’s book ‘Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance’:
“We always hope for the easy fix: the one easy change that will erase a problem in a stroke. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right…and making medicine go right is less often like making a difficult diagnosis than like making sure everyone washes their hands.”
Applied to education, this summarises the challenge ahead if we are going to turn the talent and enthusiasm showcased on Friday into improved outcomes for our pupils. I spoke about making CPD an integral part of classroom practice and, in doing so, beginning to make the ‘hundred small steps’ to which Gawande refers. This is about taking risks, reflecting, engaging with research and collaborating: things that we’ve just proven we can do in abundance.
This blog is one of the tools which we can use to achieve the aims above. Look out for the first edition of the Learning and Teaching Newsletter coming soon.