More than 1,000 teachers turn out for International Festival of Learning at West Suffolk College
- Credit: DANNY HEWITT
Top names in the education world came together to hear about key issues facing the teaching profession at an inaugural Suffolk conference.
More than 1,000 delegates attended the first ever International Festival Learning, which packed out the main hall at West Suffolk College today.
Staff recruitment and retention problems, the scrapping of arts subjects and for many the most pressing issue of all – funding – were high on the agenda for speakers and guests.
Highlights of the day included Geoff Barton, former headteacher at King Edward VI school in Bury St Edmunds, quizzing Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman in his new role as general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.
Mr Barton said: “It’s been a brilliant day and I think it’s fair to say we’ve all learned a lot.
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“I am really glad that so many people have turned up, there is a wealth of experience here and teachers have travelled from far and wide to come here.
“One of the big things we have tried to address is the state of the profession at the moment.
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“The key issues we discussed included the decline of creative subjects – a lot of schools are now laying off courses such as music and dance because they are traditionally ones that fewer pupils sign up for.
He added: “Staff recruitment and retention also came up – it’s a key issue for the East of England – and it was worked out that we would need an additional 47,000 teachers by 2024 to cope with the rising population – by that time there will be something like 500,000 more children to teach.”
In her talk, broadcaster, writer and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) ambassador Dr Emily Grossman explored the topic of young people and STEM in a post Brexit world – addressing which skills will be needed in a rapidly changing economic climate.
Additional speakers included Darren Henley, chief executive of the Arts Council, and Lord Jim Knight, chief education advisor at the Times Education Supplement (TES).
West Suffolk College principal Dr Nikos Saavas said: “This is about how to build a world class system for our next generation.
“This is much more than a one day training event, this is a movement led by a growing collective of professionals, volunteers and organisations who are passionate about education.”