My wife, Chris, travelled with me to Belfast for the annual SOCITM Conference (where she was joining the partners' programme) held at the Waterfront Conference Centre. This was the first time that the conference, which always starts on a Sunday, was being held "off the mainland", and there were a few concerns about whether delegates would make the trip across the Irish Sea, but we needn't have worried; bookings were around the usual level.
The Conference Keynote Speaker was Richard Gerver – currently the charismatic Primary School Head Teacher of Grange Primary School in Long Eaton – identified as one of the most innovative and creative schools in the world. Richard gave a truly inspirational talk about how he and his staff turned around a failing school (which was on the verge of closure) by, among other things, completely ignoring the national curriculum, but with a happy side effect of achieving all of the national curriculum targets within 18 months.
It's hardly surprising, therefore, that he came to the attention of the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and he is leaving his current job at the end of this term to join them and help develop new curricula.
Richard's talk was about harnessing the power and talent of young people, but a major sub-theme was understanding how young people relate to our technological world. His session included a version of the "Shift Happens" presentation that I referred to in a previous diary entry. (Other conference speakers also referred to it.)
Richard's wife is also a Head Teacher. "We are 'bad' parents – our daughter spends a lot of time in her room, watching Telly, playing (on a Game Console) and texting her friends – all at the same time".
I cannot hope to adequately capture his vision, here, so if you get the chance to see Richard Gerver in action, take it!