Stepping up to the Plate-teaching for the 21st Century

SSAT 4th National Primary Conference

The most successful and well attended Primary Conference hosted by the Trust began with a great session from Prof Yong Zhao. He talked about the need for the curriculum to move from content based to talent based. About how a content based curriculum is focussed on standardisation to help everyone achieve the same. An outcomes focussed model with the goal being to ‘fix deficiencies’. This model was compared to a talent based curriculum whose goal would be to personalise and find strengths. A process based model. Prof Zhao spoke passionately about the two major factors affecting the curriculum in the 21st Century: globalisation and technology and this focus on technology led nicely into the next presentation.

John Davitt led the delegates in a fun, inspirational session on the use of technology to support learning. He captured everyone’s attention immediately talking about a range of tools that can be employed to make learning more exciting and relevant. John used the phrase ‘illegal learning’ to describe the learning that goes on out of school ‘without a license’ without SATs, assessment etc. He posed the question:
‘Do we live in a world where shopping is more important than learning?’

Neil Hopkin gave a précis of the Cambridge Review and how it should act as a catalyst for curriculum change. His presentation offered differing views of the profession, differing views of how we should tackle poor quality practice and how we should embrace technology to support learning in the 21st Century. Neil finished his session with a passionate and heartfelt message for us all to take back to base about teaching:
‘If you’re not up for it, get out. You’re messing it up for the children. ‘

The breakout workshops offered a range of themes but I chose to further familiarise myself with John’s work. He led a hands on session that made great use of his iPhone app RAG (Random Event Generator)

After lunch I went to hear Tom Barratt talking about games based learning, ‘light touch CPD’ via Twitter and using Web2.0 to connect classrooms (google docs and voicethread were two examples) Tom’s presentation was a fantastic opportunity to hear some great examples from a classroom practitioner who uses techology to support learning but not to lead it. His creative approach blurs the distinction between school and home learning providing children with a platform from which they can grow as independent life long learners. Tom’s presentation will be available in full through his website.

Towards the end of the day two important speakers left us with food for thought. Baroness Sue Campbell talked about the importance of sport and exercise and how this can help learning and behaviour and Professor Barry Carpenter’s presentation on children with complex needs gave some real insights into both raising and educating such childen.

A hugely successful conference that left delegates inspired and challenged. The day began with Prof Zhao sharing sone quotes about education and one that sticks in the mind is from George Bernard Shaw:

‘The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school.’

It is down to us to ensure this isn’t the case for today’s learners.

Important links:


About smichael920

Headteacher of a large primary school in North West England. Helping me to blur the distinction between work and home, I am also father of five, covering most phases of education thus giving me the lowdown from within and without. Education is about enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow. This can't be done using the tools of the past. View all posts by smichael920

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