Last year we launched our new flagship events programme, which includes our much- loved debates series What if…? radical and inspiring ideas for alternative education futures. Through this series we bring together prominent speakers on education issues – from policy makers to academics, practitioners to parents – to hear their views on key debates in the field.
So far, we’ve tackled education’s role (or not) in social mobility, vocational education’s Cinderella status, teaching’s image problem, the (unmet) needs of schools operating in the most challenging circumstances, the special educational needs and disability (SEND) crisis, the AI revolution, the promise of educational neuroscience, and how to get all kids to love (or at least not hate) mathematics. Phew. (You can watch all these back/listen back to all these here, or find write ups here.)
But there are many crucial topics that we haven’t yet covered. We intend to put that right in 2018/19.
To get us started, on 1 October we’ll be looking at young people’s mental health and well-being – asking What if…we wanted our kids to be happier?. Young people’s unhappiness – beyond the traditional teenage angst – has been a running theme of late. It is typically ascribed to the greater pressure that today’s young people are said to be under compared to previous generations, whether from social media or excessive testing in schools. What’s going on, and what can we do about it? We’ll hear from an academic expert and from a headteacher and mental health experts about trends and patterns and frontline issues and solutions.
Then, in November, we’ll be addressing the matter of testing and assessment, a topic that parents have become increasingly vocal about, with regard to both the frequency and the content of the testing. In What if… we re-designed our school testing and assessment system from scratch? we’ll be asking a range of commentators for their views on what testing they would include for the primary and secondary school years if starting from a blank slate.
Further ahead, expect to see events on, among other topics, the curriculum (we couldn’t not do the knowledge vs skills issue, could we?), early years provision, and school accountability.
We do hope you can join us, or tune in via the livestream.