Every one of the primary, secondary and special schools in Bridgend ran a learning event during the week of 25 June 2018.
Teachers, governors, challenge advisers, local business people and a range of other partners were able to choose from a huge learning menu developed by teachers, for teachers – with a little help from learners.
On the one hand you could just call it good practice. On the other, you could say it’s a radical approach to professional learning that works now but will also fit perfectly with the new curriculum.
The idea flowed from a recommendation to share good practice, but in Bridgend we saw that only as a starter. We wanted to evolve cluster working, empower teachers, get a real buzz going. Workshops, lectures, a symposium and a Learners’ Day where children planned and presented their learning, all featured.
Look at these: ‘Five creative Habits of Mind’, ‘Anxiety First Aid’, ‘Escape Room Games’, ‘Virtual reality in the Classroom’, ‘Growth Mindset for Pupil Well-being’, ‘Expressive Arts Area of Learning and Experience – the story so far’… just a few examples from a stunning array.
Schools looked at their improvement plans before deciding what to attend from the 97-event menu which also included offerings from further and higher education partners.
Vibrant professional learning developed by schools and shared among people from all parts of Bridgend’s education community. Ideas to bring into the school-level curriculum. Children benefiting from involvement and the learning that was shared. The whole County raising the profile of education and getting involved.
Curriculum Pioneer Schools are already telling us that schools and teachers will have more freedom to develop local-level curriculum. Also that school-to-school and cluster learning will be more important, with all schools developing as learning organisations, supporting the transition to a self improving system. The Festival of Learning is gearing us to do that, but it’s also bringing benefits right now.
Professional Learning Pioneer Schools are also working with national clusters to develop the National Approach to Professional Learning.
So will we run another Festival of Learning event in 2019? Absolutely! It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
The final words should go to two of our participants:
Ryan Davies (Headteacher, Brynteg School):
‘Firstly, many congratulations on a superb inaugural Festival of Learning. Staff at Brynteg really did appreciate having the opportunity to visit other schools with one quote being ‘opportunities like that are platinum coated. We only wish we had planned a training day to coincide with the week in order to draw everything together.’
Victoria Cox-Wall (Teacher in Charge, The Bridge Alternative Provision):
‘Just to say how much we enjoyed the Festival of Learning and being part of it. As the smallest school (type of!) in BCBC, we don’t always get the chance to join in something so wholeheartedly. We had a fabulous week and enjoyed every second of all the different aspects.
Over 70 people attend our workshops and the evaluations were excellent, all delivered by therapeutic and support staff I’m pleased to say. My staff that went out to workshops all brought valuable ideas and learning back with them and of course 2 starred in the Festival of Learning movie and I eventually got on Radio Wales!
It’s been a great opportunity for us in lots of ways, we felt a real buzz around it across the county and we really enjoyed being part of things in a way we don’t always get to access.’
Group Manager School Improvement
Bridgend County Borough Council
Sue Roberts coordinated the Festival of Learning for BCBC. She also works for the University of South Wales where she is a senior lecturer in the Professional Learning team, delivering post-graduate Masters programmes. Her specialisms include ‘Curriculum Design’ and ‘Developing People and Learning in Organisations’.