Tuesday afternoon began by defining the aims of the two-day conference, namely:
- To identify common themes and approaches to CPD for ‘British values’ within the Global Learning Programme (GLP).
- To share expertise in approaching ‘British values’ with teachers and develop potential strategies to support schools in addressing this priority.
- To discuss CPD priorities and strategies for the next year.
Following various introductions, the setting of expectations and the outlining of the agenda for the workshop, we had an update on the Global Learning Programme (GLP), including reference to CPD. Next, dinner called, which was delicious and provided an opportunity to chat informally with other delegates, finding out what they had been involved with to date, any difficulties that they had encountered and their aspirations for the coming academic year. There was much discussion about Brexit too, and its impact on future funding for global learning, as you can well imagine!
Wednesday began early as there was much to cram into the day. A very appetising, communal breakfast ensured that we were all raring to go! The first session looked at the issues and challenges that British values poses. Later, we explored different perspectives surrounding British values, drawing on the work conducted by a number of providers. Rob Bowden, from Lifeworlds Learning (http://www.lifeworldslearning.co.uk/), talked about values in general. He stimulated a degree of contemplation and shared some incredible resources. In fact, I was really inspired and would love to collaborate with Rob on a project in the near future. Dr Alison Clark from the Liverpool World Centre (http://liverpoolworldcentre.org/) was a delight to listen to as well. She showcased a research project that she has been involved with, which has explored schools’ perspectives on British values. She was able to reveal some interesting findings, although there will be more to come following further analysis and evaluation work. Both Rob and Alison gave us much food for thought and the subsequent discussions were both enlightening and engaging.
After a break for refreshments in the central coffee lounge, we returned to experience and reflect upon a number of different CPD activities used by a variety of providers.
Helen Griffin, from the DECSY – Development Education Centre South Yorkshire (http://www.decsy.org.uk/), demonstrated a great activity, which encouraged higher order thinking about values,
- What five things are important to you?
- Why are these important to you?
- What five values are important to teachers?
- What five values are important to a school?
- What five values are important to children?
- What five values are important within a community/society or on a global scale?
- Is there any overlap?
- How do these relate to the fundamental British values (FBVs)?
We were given a number of supporting documents to read through. Links with the SMSC strand, Ofsted and the GLP were highlighted too. The use of language trees or word clouds were promoted to help reinforce key vocabulary and explain more complex terms. This activity could be employed to prompt teachers to consider how values are being embedded within their schools: what is already being done and what they could be doing. A mix and match activity provided many suggestions for possible ‘next steps’.
Next, Katie Carr from the Cumbria Development Education Centre (http://www.cdec.org.uk/), spoke at length about her work in promoting critical thinkers/ing and the importance of creating a ‘safe and non-judgemental space’. I loved her idea of designing a British box to send to a partner school and linking the items placed within it to values. She talked about the ‘iceberg’ and the origins of our values. The latter are clearly shaped by our life experiences, with education being just one influence. We make sense of these experiences by talking to each other (discourse). Sometimes, language, such as ‘British’ and ‘values’ creates problems. Katie suggested that five or six fundamental British values should be targeted; should ‘freedom of expression’ be included too?
Finally, Rachel Elgy from EqualiTeach (http://www.equaliteach.co.uk/), showcased work that she had done with children in schools. She encouraged reflection about the fundamental British values (FBVs), whether they are promoting stereotypes or values and summarised the key issues that are faced. Again, she reinforced the importance of creating a ‘safe environment’ and establishing ‘ground rules’. Pupils could be given post-it notes to jot down questions or add comments; an effective means of grappling with complex issues and aspects that they do not fully understand, as well as being able to express their thoughts anonymously should they wish to do so. This did provoke conversations about safeguarding; children need to also appreciate that things might have to be shared with others beyond the space where the discussion is being held. In addition, are all individuals at Development Education Centres and similar organisations aware of, and up to speed with, safeguarding issues and procedures?
A very intensive, but hugely thought-provoking morning meant many stomachs were rumbling rather loudly! Again, the conference centre staff did a sterling job, providing a great array of fresh hot and cold food options. Sitting around large tables together was conducive to further conversation. Unfortunately, I had to leave to present at the first, official, GLP Expert Centre meeting at Marling School, so did not attend the final session, which aimed to identify common themes and approaches and suggest strategies for supporting schools. Clare Bentall did promise to feedback to me in due course, however, so, hopefully, I will not have missed too much.
The conference provided a great opportunity to engage with other CPD providers, share experiences and raise concerns. Additionally, it was lovely to put names to faces. In fact, I intend to keep in touch with a number of individuals to see how we might work together in the future. Watch this space to discover what transpires!
Many thanks, once again, to all who had an input into this conference; hugely worthwhile and enjoyable.