Spring Conference 2024: roundup + highlights

Mar 7, 2024 1:55:28 PM
Couldn’t make it to our 2024 Spring Conference? Here’s what you missed…

Our 2024 Spring Conference took place online on February 29th. Featuring insights from leading experts and groundbreaking research on young people’s experiences, this was a lively, interactive event bringing together over 600 of our members to hear from keynote speakers and take part in practical workshops.

We kicked things off with a moving keynote from Baroness Floella Benjamin, OM, DBE, DL — actress, singer, presenter, author, businesswoman, philanthropist, and politician. Floella spoke about some of the difficulties that children and young people are facing and how PSHE teachers have a special opportunity to deliver a message of hope and make a difference in the lives of those they teach. As Floella herself put it: “[teachers] are the chosen guardian angels to go out and change the world.” Inspiring stuff!

From there, delegates went to their first CPD-style workshop of the day, designed and delivered by our Subject Specialists. Options for the morning session included Mental health: the latest research for schools (KS1-2), Health, prevention and responsibility (KS3-5), and an RSHE update session exploring how schools can prepare for the upcoming RSHE guidance consultation and update.

Dr Polly Haste — Ofsted joint subject lead for PSHE, RSHE and Citizenship — delivered our second keynote, touching on some of the findings from Ofsted’s upcoming Personal Development report and considering how PSHE education might be evaluated during inspections. The keynote ended with a valuable reminder that schools are most effective when led and driven by the needs of their pupils, and not Ofsted.

After a short break, we returned to hear from Jenny Barksfield, our Deputy Chief Executive & Director of Education. Jenny spoke about the upcoming government review of the statutory RSHE guidance and highlighted the importance of age appropriate, preventative education, that explores issues young people face before they become a problem, not after.

Delegates then attended their second workshop of the day, choosing again from a range of options including Top tips for assessment for pupils with SEND, Challenging the algorithms and recommendations minefield (ft. Revealing Reality), PSHE education: a curriculum of hope (KS1-4), and PSHE and play: practical ideas (EYFS & KS1).

The penultimate keynote featured our CEO, Jono Baggaley, in conversation with Sarah Hannafin, Head of Policy (Practice and Research) at NAHT, and Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders. The panel discussed the importance of partnerships between teachers and parents for high-quality PSHE. Both Sarah and Julie commented on how the relationship between parents and schools has changed in recent years, while reminding us that research indicates parents are largely supportive of PSHE being taught in schools.

Laura McInerney, Co-Founder of the Teacher Tapp app, closed the conference by recounting her journey from PSHE teacher to education journalist. Laura shared insights from some of the data collected through Teacher Tapp — demonstrating that although the proportion of teachers responsible for PSHE education is very high, most report not feeling confident in teaching the subject. Laura ended by calling for ‘second specialisms’, so more teachers have the confidence, skills and training to teach safe and effective PSHE education alongside their primary specialism.

As ever, the conference was a positive and uplifting event, and a timely reminder of the vital role that all PSHE teachers play in supporting the development of children and young people, despite the challenging job that is asked of them. Delegates commented on the sense of community and support these events provide.

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