"We need to create environments in which teachers embrace the idea of continuous improvement… an acceptance that the impact of education on the lives of young people creates a moral imperative for even the best teachers to continue to improve.”(September 2014) – Dylan Wiliam
As education establishments, it is our responsibility to help facilitate continual professional improvement. Events like the Bryanston Education Summit are excellent for bringing together a number of different professional development strands under one roof. Attendees can curate their own, bespoke programme for the day and hear from a wide array of expert speakers on a number of topics. The event is intended for many teachers from many schools and we cannot know what those particular schools or teachers are specifically interested in improving. Therefore, we lay on a variety of topics in the hope that there really is something for everyone
That is not to say that an event like the Education Summit is not good for Bryanston. It creates tremendously good-value professional development for our own staff. They attend sessions where their teaching commitments allow and so digest many talks during the day. The knock-on effect is that it provides a frame of reference for our staff: they can discuss what they have heard and learned with others from the same context, which in itself adds a layer of benefit. To some extent, any school that is able to send more than one teacher to the event could benefit in a similar way.
Sustained CPD, as research has concluded, is one of the only truly effective ways to make professional improvement lasting and genuinely impactful in the classroom. At each Summit, we align at least a few talks and speakers with our own pedagogical focus for the year. That way, we can lay on a number of preludial pedagogical events in the months leading up to the Summit, send teachers to hear relevant talks at the Summit itself and then host follow-up meetings to truly embed some of the concepts discussed. This year, for instance, our pedagogical focus as a school is literacy. It is no surprise, therefore, that there are a good number of talks and speakers at the 2019 Summit specialising in that very topic. Among them, Alex Quigley will be giving a talk entitled ‘Where does literacy fit in the secondary school curriculum?’; Debra Myhill will be speaking about ‘Writing in subject disciplines’; and Marcello Giovanelli will be discussing the importance of ‘Knowing about language: what, why and how?’ By directing our own staff to these particular talks, I can guarantee that literacy will continue to gather momentum within our specific learning community.
Under the umbrella of our overall summit focus, ‘Revolution: the future of learning in a changing world’, we strive to provide an array of subjects. It is also important to us not to shy away from some of the more challenging issues facing us as educationalists. This year we have Robert Plomin summarising his 45 years of research on how ‘DNA makes us who we are’. This will not be entirely comfortable listening for some teachers. Anthony Seldon will be speaking about Artificial Intelligence and how it will change your world – whether you like it or not, again, possibly not making for the easiest of listening. We intend to begin debate, but not necessarily settle it. First and foremost, we aim to get teachers thinking and reflecting.
In Dylan Wiliam’s talk at our inaugural Education Summit in 2017, his final presentation slide was the following:
His first bullet points for both teachers and leaders concern the need for high expectations of continual professional improvement. Our Education Summit provides a focal point for such a requirement, both for ourselves and others. Learning happens when we listen, and our Summit has, at its heart, a desire to connect teachers, to spark debate, and to promote the idea that the best teachers – irrespective of age or experience – are always ready to listen, learn, and share their experiences.