ResearchED Rugby – a veritable smorgasborg of speakers

I have just come back from the ResearchED Rugby conference and I thought I would write a quick blog summarising the experience. In a nutshell, it was fabulous. The naysayers claiming it’s just a rehash of the same old speakers and same ideas should be eating their words. It wasn’t stale, it was fresh, fresh, fresh. Having attended the event last year, I can see just how much the ResearchED movement has snowballed and also, how it is inspiring a great many teachers to reflect on and improve their practice. I don’t know if it has reached critical mass yet but it’s well on its way to transforming the educational landscape in this country. What a fantastic grassroot event. Well done to Jude Hunton and his team for organising it.

It was held in the famous Rugby school (or Hogwarts) with its impressive array of facilities and classrooms. I am now dreaming of painting a feature wall that same dark purple colour next time I redecorate at home. And, for the first time ever, I dipped my toes by actually taking part in a debate (with David Weston and David Didau). I was a tad nervous at first, seeing as I was in such esteemed company, but I hope I acquitted myself reasonably well. I also learned a great deal from my fellow debaters. David Weston shared some of the recommendations from his recent book ‘Unleashing Great Teaching’ (which I must add to my reading list) and David Didau was his usual razor sharp self. Thanks also goes to Stephen Champney for chairing the debate. The time went by very quickly, and we could easily have talked on for another 40 minutes or so. We touched on topics such as teacher development, behaviour and grammar schools.

I don’t have room here to go into detail about the talks I attended. Suffice it to say they were all worthwhile, interesting and enlightening. I didn’t get to go to all the talks I had highlighted in my planner – it was standing room only for many speakers. However, this wasn’t a problem as I just randomly went to a different room and got to hear Tom Rees speak such utter good sense it warmed my heart. The highlight for me though, was the last talk I attended, by Niki Kaiser and Victoria Barnett, who shared with us their journey in becoming research leads at their school. I found them inspiring and empowering. As Niki said, she’s just a teacher, and a part time one at that, but she overcame her nerves, knocked on her head teacher’s door and discussed her idea. As a result of that first step, she and Victoria have developed a CPD journal, a half termly research bulletin and obtained funding for a load of educational books to share with the staff. Their school is now part of a network of research schools, collaborating, networking and sharing best practice. I hope this inspires other teachers to become research leads in their schools.

As for me… It’s no secret to say I’ve been on a bit of a downer about education these last few months. There have been days where I’ve wondered whether or not I want to get back on the teacher training bandwagon. And for now, the answer to that question is still no, but today’s experience gives me hope that some day, that ‘no’ might become a ‘yes’ again.

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