The learning zone

June sees the return of The Sunday Times Festival of Education: two days of debate and discussion about the key issues in education

Following its success, recognition and highly positive critique in 2013, The Sunday Times Festival of Education is back in 2014 and destined to reach even greater heights when it arrives at Wellington College in Berkshire on 20-21 June. Having cemented itself as the UK’s premier forum for thought leadership, innovation and development in education, the festival continues to attract many of education’s most forward-thinking advocates, practitioners of change and policy makers. For teachers and lecturers, it has become a go-to educational event. Sir Mark Grundy, executive principal of Shireland Collegiate Academy, is bringing his entire 130-strong teaching staff. Every single one. “It’s probably the most cost effective CPD I’ve done in years,” he says of a previous visit.

The event hosts thousands of attendees and speakers, including government ministers, renowned educationalists and even a few celebrities – all with a passion for education. As well as attracting the most notable education decision makers from state and independent schools across the country, the festival entices the most influential innovators, politicians, business leaders, strategists and forward-thinking minds involved in education today. It’s a place to hear from and debate with key individuals, with this year’s line-up including: Christine Blower, David Starkey, Simon Armitage, Ian Livingstone, Dylan Wiliam, Simon Mayo, Howard Goodall and many more.

This year the festival launches its ‘Inspiring Leaders’ strand, bringing together HMC, GDST, AGBIS, ISBA, NGA, ASCL and NSABM in a unique collaboration to discuss issues central to the business of running a school such as ‘Is your school really a business?’, ‘How not to get sacked’ and ‘Who should decide what students learn?’ These debates will be of interest to all those involved in school leadership, and many schools have already booked for their entire senior leadership teams to attend, share ideas amongst themselves, network with others and have some much-needed fun at the end of a demanding year.

On a functional level, the chance to evaluate of learning and practical ideas introduced into schools and colleges makes the Festival of Education a must-attend event for senior management teams and key decision makers from state and independent educational establishments alike. It constitutes an invaluable and cost-effective CPD event for teachers and staff at all levels, and schools are also encouraged to bring students along, with attendance free for all under-12s.

The Festival of Education boasts an eclectic mix of themes. Thought-provoking presentations, lively debates, challenging workshops and informative boot camps are individually tailored for senior leaders, teachers, parents and students, and will cover a range of topics including: academies; cognitive learning; e-learning; marketing; raising standards; social media; technology and more.

Also new for 2014 are free CPD courses for teachers and senior leaders, camouflaged learning and many interactive exercises to interest students, evening social events including bands and comedy, and inspirational debates, workshops and activities for teachers and students. Those attending the festival can also partake in a spot of camping or glamping. Sites within a 10-15-minute walk of the festival grounds offer a choice of luxury two-, four- and six-berth canvas tents, complete with all the furnishings to make it an indulgent experience. Larger groups can also be accommodated.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, sums up his view of the event. “The Festival of Education is the Hay-on-Wye of education,” he says.

The Sunday Times Festival of Education 2014, Wellington College, Berkshire, 20-21 June. Bookings T: 01483 423008 or 01483 424284 W: On booking quote 14STFOEIET Facebook: Twitter:  @EducationFestSummerhouse Education W: