The conference was hosted by a young man from Sheffield Futures who introduced Cllr Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Families and Lifelong Learning in Sheffield, Jayne Ludlum, Executive Director for Children, Young People and Families in Sheffield and the Right Honourable David Blunkett MP. The first day featured keynote sessions from Professor Isaac Prilleltensky - University of Miami, USA, Professor Steven Rose - The Open University & Gresham College London, Professor Philip Davis - University of Liverpool, Marlo Winstead - University of Kansas and Baroness Susan Campbell - Chair UK Sport & Youth Sport Trust. The highlight of the day for me was the session by Professor Isaac Prilleltensky whose research into educational transformation focused powerfully on well-being and fairness and arguing that we neglect the social aspects of learning at our peril!
It was a brilliant session with Dr Isaac Prilleltensky arguing that the DfE and OFSTED have got it all wrong! He argued that the evidence clearly shows that addressing social issues is critical to addressing underachievement in our schools. Fairness must be addressed because again the evidence clearly shows that in countries with high levels of inequality, like UK and USA, children do worse in comparative studies. Dr Isaac Prilleltensky argued that a blame and shame doctrine produced a quick fix but was unsustainable whereas a co-operative, partnership doctrine was proven to be both sustainable and developmental! Reflective and supportive approaches create sustainable and effective results! We need effective, reflective and supportive schools because to change behaviours we need to change social conditions! It was a mistake to narrow and constrain the curriculum focusing on english and maths. We need to develop competence and engagement through a broad, relevant and engaging curriculum! We need to develop competence and engagement for all learners and particularly for our teachers and young people!