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Primary conference 2017

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With tickets to this year’s primary conference selling like hot cakes, we were sure this was going to be an unforgettable event - and we were right.

A warm welcome 

Primary Conference 2017 was opened by NAHT president Anne Lyons welcoming delegates to the day and remarking on the importance of sharing best practice. 

NAHT’s general secretary, Paul Whiteman followed by sharing his reactions to the budget announcement on Wednesday. He stated, “Wednesday’s budget was only a milestone in our campaign. We will continue to tell the Chancellor how much is needed in the system to ensure the future success and prosperity of our young people and through them the country.” He also provided reassurance that NAHT will continue to campaign for school funding, “Colleagues, stay strong, stay calm. You will not give up on the children in your care and we will not give up on our efforts for the profession to be heard.”

Maintaining optimism through challenging times

Next, deputy general secretary Nick Brook spoke on the current challenges facing school leaders. He began by outlining what primary conference represents at its core. ‘We are here because we are driven by ambition. Not for ourselves but to see the children we work with grow and develop into successful and happy people.’ He then reflected on high-stakes accountability being a key challenge facing education practitioners and outlined NAHT’s vision for the future. ‘We want to create a future where schools take responsibility for one another and take back control for standards in education.’

With the release of NAHT’s annual recruitment and retention report launching that day, the recruitment and retention of school staff was a key challenge that delegates were keen to address. Drawing inspiration from another keynote speaker, Nick Brook said, ‘We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it. As our speaker Michael Rosen might say, school leaders are going on a teacher hunt, but too often the cave is empty at the end of it.’ To find out more about our recruitment and retention survey click here.

The speech finished with Brook explaining that despite the current issues, NAHT remains optimistic that these challenges can be overcome. Brook concluded, ‘The ambition of the profession is limitless. We just need the trust and the tools to get the job done.’

Sarah Foster followed by highlighting the important work NAHT Aspire is doing to support school improvement through collaborative working. 

Then actor, author and comedian, Dave Keeling took the fore with a funny and interactive discussion on the importance of confidence and application in learning. A riot from start to finish, Keeling demonstrated first-hand the importance of humour in learning.

Michael Rosen shares his reaction to Budget Day 2017

Primary conference keynote speaker, Michael Rosen shared his disappointment that funding was not addressed in this Autumn's budget announcement. 

Creating interpretive spaces with Michael Rosen

In the afternoon delegates were treated to a highly anticipated speech from poet and author Michael Rosen. Rosen highlighted the importance of creating interpretive spaces for children to openly engage with literature and warned against the ‘retrieval’ model of text comprehension. He stated, ‘The point of literature is that it poses many questions which result in many answers and they are all legitimate.’ Rosen’s keynote concluded with one delegate asking him to send attendees home happy to which he responded with an energetic performance of ‘Boogy Woogy Buggy’.

Past president of NAHT, Bernadette Hunter concluded primary conference with the comment that if laughter is the best medicine then I’m sure we have all gone home a little bit healthier. 

For information on our upcoming events please click here

Workshop round-up

Comparative judgement: how it works

For delegates that were interested in reducing workload. Director of Education at No More Marking, Daisy Christodoulou ran a practical workshop that outlined how comparative judgement works, how it differs from traditional marking, and how it can be used to reduce workload, improve consistency, and free up the teaching of primary writing. 

Future proofing your team

How can you maintain and improve education standards alongside a shrinking budget? In this interactive workshop, Philippa Ollerhead from Judicium Education encouraged delegates to reflect on current structures within their schools and outlined practical ways in which school leaders can future-proof their teams.

Make your money work through strategic planning and prioritisation

In this deeply informative workshop Larraine Cooper from the Larian Consultancy outlined how to create a budgetary allocation process, which is educationally driven, strategic, affordable and sustainable in the medium-term and capable of clear prioritisation.

Emotional health and well-being: A whole school approach

A subject firmly on school leaders’ priority lists, this workshop explored how Head Teachers can take a 'whole school approach' to mental health - looking at the mental health and emotional well-being of the whole school community including pupils, families and staff.

Tackling teacher workload

An unsurprisingly popular workshop at this year’s primary conference, this workshop focused examined the government's three workload challenge reports on marking, planning and resources and data management.  

Securing great teaching: enabling CPD with impact

A highly practical workshop, delegates explored examples ways of implementing effective CPD, particularly cost-effective methods under budget constraints with the founder and Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust, David Weston.

Overcoming the sacrifice syndrome (how to maintain your personal wellbeing and joy as a school leader)

In an age of increased public scrutiny and personal accountability, school leaders must put in place practical strategies for maintaining their own wellbeing. In this workshop Director of Integrity Coaching, Viv Grant explored encouraged delegates to consider how school leaders can overcome the stresses of the role and maintain their ability to lead and inspire others.