Douglas Archibald is Whole Education’s founding Director and current Executive Director. He shares why he is excited for our 10th Annual Conference ‘Leading Into the Future’, and why he thinks it will be our best one yet.
WE are very excited to introduce you to Whole Education’s 10th Annual Conference Leading Into the Future. It builds on last year’s conference, Preparing Young People For Their Futures – and on everything we have achieved in the past ten years. The theme focuses on you as leaders: what is your role as leaders of schools committed to a future-focused education in the current landscape?
Building on ten years of collaboration
It has been a tough ten years to be a headteacher – never mind one committed to a whole education.
The WE network is full of brave leaders striving to deliver a future-focused whole education despite the accountability pressures you face. At times it can feel as though you’re swimming against the tide.
WE are optimistic, however. It feels like the tide has started to turn.The new Ofsted framework encourages schools to think for themselves about what their young people need to effectively prepare them for their future and life beyond school. There is a growing recognition that what you have been trying to do all along, offering a fully rounded education to all, is the most sustainable way to do this. We need to seize this opportunity.
Some headteachers in our stand out schools initiative have described an ‘understandable but not inevitable’ narrowing of the curriculum in schools- and even a resignation in some leaders – at the very moment when the tide seems to be turning. More than ever we need to be ready to take advantage and unashamedly make the case for the kind of future-focused education our young people need.
A whole education that equips children for a complex future
We believe that means helping children and young people to develop the range of knowledge, skills and qualities they need to succeed and thrive in life, learning & work.
WE believe the majority of school leaders share this vision; indeed many of you tell us it is the reason you came into the profession in the first place. But sometimes in your busy roles, we think there can be a gap between recognition of what is needed, and the seemingly overwhelming task of delivering it in school, alongside all the other requirements you face. A gap opens up between the mission/vision statement on a school’s website and what actually happens in the classroom.
And so for our tenth anniversary we decided that we really need to revisit the ‘Why?’, ‘How?’ and ‘What?’ of a whole education; asking ourselves whether a whole education is as important now and for the future as it was ten years ago.
These are valid questions. We do not pretend to hold all the answers. We want you, our school leaders, to critically engage with them.
Our 10th Annual Conference main day (29th January) – helping leaders better understand the future
To help you do so, we want to give you the opportunity to step out of school (and possibly out of your comfort zone); to listen to experts from outside of the education sector as well as inside it; and to critically discuss your experiences with peers.
We have therefore designed our tenth annual conference to help you to do that; to step off the conveyor belt and better understand the rapid changes happening in the way people work, learn and live.
This conference will help you reflect on whether or not what you are doing as a school is really going to prepare young people for their futures.
- Lynda Gratton is the leading authority on the future of work and lifelong learning. She will help you to understand what it means for you that young people starting primary school now will work well into their 70s and live to 100.
- International expert on AI Rose Luckin will help you check your schools are focused on developing and exploiting young people’s unique, human skills and capacities in a world where artificial intelligence is more prevalent than ever.
- We will hear from Neil Carberry, CEO of the body representing all recruiters to get a balanced view of what employers believe the future will hold. What should headteachers really be thinking about?
- We will also get some challenging perspectives from Yuli Tamir – former education minister in Israel, president of a university and global expert on nationalism. She will help us understand what the future holds for education systems- and how we as school leaders can play a part in tackling concerns around fractured societies.
These experts, school leaders and more will help you understand what the future means for the education system in England. You will leave really thinking about the challenges and opportunities of the future, and energised by the positive impact a whole education approach can – and is – having.
A day of masterclasses to help you deliver a future-focused education (30th January)
WE know that translating this enthusiasm into practice in one classroom, let alone a school or across a group of schools, day in, day out, is difficult. So we have also designed a day of masterclasses following our main conference day, helping you and your team to think about how you can really do it.
WE strongly encourage you to bring colleagues to this day of masterclasses – assistant or deputy headteachers with responsibility for teaching and learning, curriculum, or professional development.
In an extended working session, Mary Myatt will help you and your team plan how you respond to the needs of the future by engaging every child in a fully rounded curriculum, regardless of their starting points.
You will also hear from Ron Berger, the chief academic officer of Expeditionary Learning in the USA. Our most popular ever conference speaker, Ron returns with a deep masterclass to help you think about delivering learning that lasts; learning that prioritises challenge, engagement and empowerment.
Helping you take a future-focused education forward in your context
In short, it is exactly the kind of practice, driven by whole education principles, that you as leaders can use to help bring your vision of a future-focused education to life – preparing your young people for a complex future.
Having reaffirmed the need for a whole education, and spent quality time with leading experts and peers from within and beyond your school discussing how you interpret and deliver that vision in your own unique context, we hope that you will leave energised, inspired, and more confident.