What I got up to at the Wellington Festival of Education Part 2

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Day Two of the Education Festival dawned rather too early; I was camped out in my van and could have done with another hour or so before the hordes descended. By the time I was decent, and had scoffed a quick breakfast in the almost oppressively convivial surroundings of the Master’s Lodge, I was ready to rejoin the fray.

My first stop was a debate rather pointedly entitled, What’s Wrong With English Schools? or something equally foolish. The panel was ably chaired by veteran debater Clair Fox and consisted of everyone’s favourite campaigning headteacher, Geoff Barton; grammar grandfather Nevile Gwynne; the Teacher Development Trust’s poster boy, David Weston, and Special Adviser to the PM, Shaun Bailey. The lack of any kind of agreed terms made the debate somewhat superficial and everyone quickly reverted to type. Geoff repeated his complaint that Gove doesn’t like schools like his because they’re not academies, and that we need to stop wasting time piddling around with the curriculum and start improving the quality of teachers; Nevile wanted to burn all teacher training institutions to the ground; David agreed that improving teaching through effective CPD would be a jolly good idea, but thought that we should only set fire to the worst ITT  providers as some are doing pretty well. Shaun felt that we should stir some love into mix. Inevitably, I’ve caricatured these positions, but we really didn’t learn an awful lot. After proceedings had been opened up to questions from the floor, I tweeted that the problem was that we probably won’t ever agree on how to improve education because we don’t agree what it is for. As if she could see straight into my soul, Claire repeated this nugget 30 seconds later and we all shuffled off.

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