researchED 2014: my plan for the day

It’s less than a week now until researchED 2014 and I’ve even remembered to pre-order my lunch.  I’ve spent a little bit of time over the last couple of days looking at the schedule for the day, working out which sessions I plan to attend and thinking about what I want to get out of the day. 

Looking at the schedule I really hope that Tom and his contributors avoid that ‘difficult second album’ phenomenon.  Although I couldn’t make it last year there was, by all accounts, a genuine buzz and energy about the programme; a joyous shaking off of shackles and an optimistic, even zealous, sense of energy.  Tom laid into Brain Gym and Learning Styles and the crowd roared with laughter.

Since September 2013 the issue of research in schools has developed.  The EEF has expanded its programme and BBC News even covered the appointment of Wellington College’s Head of Research!  The debate about research in schools is now less about puncturing the myths and mocking the nonsense that teachers have swallowed and more about coming up with workable new ways of doing things. 

So with this in mind, here is my individual and subjective route around the day’s sessions and my personal thoughts on what I’ll be there for and what I’ll catch up with later online.

Research ed schedule

Session 1            

Spoilt for choice here.  I’m going to definitely give the Donald Clark session a miss – its title suggests a retrospective look at mistakes of the past rather than  thinking about a new direction.  Likewise the Mroz and Shaw session in the Chapel – a little too specialised on journalism for me.  A session at one conference on the importance of another conference sounds like something I can watch on the highlights package: sorry, BELMAS.  Buch could well end up preaching to the choir and the Muijs session sounds a little Donald Rumsfeld to me.  The Lagrange session sounds interesting, but I’m torn between the Coe, Tomsett, Quigley session in the Old School Hall and the Steve Higgins session on professional development and research.  Overall, although I think that there is a massive role for CPD in embedding research practice I’m taking the hint from the venue and I’ll be watching the trio on the main stage in session 1.

Session 2            

Some excellent sessions here, with some real specialisms on offer.  I’ll give phonics a miss, being a secondary teacher myself.  Dylan Wiliam is an obvious draw and he’s always fascinating: his title suggests controversy and a thought-provoking 40 minutes.  John David Blake and Robert Peal are going to be giving their particular theses a run-out.  Both are well worth listening to.  I’m going to be going to Katie Ashford’s session, though.  The historian in me wants to hear more about the power of narrative in the classroom!

Session 3            

No contest, here, for me.  Although Andrew Old’s session with Mike Cladingbowl and Sean Harford will be a pain to miss, I have been meaning to hear David Weston speak for a while.  His NTEN model of teacher development is fascinating and I need to find out more.

Session 4            

A couple of really niche sessions here between the two big draws in the Hall and the Chapel.  Although I am sure that Martin Robinson will be on fine form, it’s the hard-nosed focus on assessment of Daisy Christodolou that will see me through to the lunch break.

Session 5            

I’m going to give Tristram Hunt a miss.  I want to keep my focus on school-based ideas and project, ideally from practicing teachers or academics.  If he says anything controversial or daft it’ll be all over Twitter in an instant anyway… I’m going to give Bob Harrison a miss too, unless I spot Crispin Weston filing into the Science Studio audience.  Nope, having decided to miss his interview in Session 4, I am going along to hear Andrew Old on rational argument in the Chapel.

Session 6            

In government he may be, but Nick Gibb is not likely to do anything more than offer platitudes and encouragement to the audience so I won’t be in the hall for his session.  Cladingbowl on inspections will be fascinating, I’m sure – he is developing a great reputation as a man who listens to teachers and shows real sense.  I’m not sure, however, how he’ll be focusing on the place of research so I’ll be off to listen to Katharine Birbalsingh talk about how evidence shows that performance related pay does not work.

Session 7            

I could be flagging by this stage!  Ben Goldacre will no doubt be fascinating but, with little clue on the schedule, I am going to guess he’ll be offering a re-hash of his thoughts on how teaching can become, like medicine, an evidence-based profession.  Part of me really wants to go and listen to Tom Sherrington, but this is a man at the end of his first week in a new headship: surely prep for this session won’t have been his biggest priority over the last few days! Of the remaining sessions I’m torn between Rebecca Allen’s and Laura McInerny’s.  On balance, because I think that they are a fascinating idea, I’ll be finding out more about journal clubs.

Phew!  Tom has given himself the final slot for thanks and some light comic relief and then it will be out, blinking, into the early evening and a massive Twitter catch-up session on what I’ve missed!


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