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International Festival of Learning attracts 1,000 to a packed timetable




Cllr Gordon Jones, West Suffolk College principal Nikos Saavas, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman and Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble at the International Festival of Learning PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Cllr Gordon Jones, West Suffolk College principal Nikos Saavas, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman and Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble at the International Festival of Learning PICTURE: Mecha Morton

Teachers and education professionals flocked to the first International Festival of Learning at West Suffolk College on Monday.

More than 1,000 people registered to attend the one-day training event, with 150 seminars, talks and sessions on offer.

Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi and Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman were among the top names, with Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders and former King Edward VI School headteacher, also on the bill.

They were joined by former MP and chairman of the Education Select Committee Neil Carmichael and Times Educational Supplement chief education advisor Lord Jim Knight.

Highlights of the day included a Q&A with Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman and a talk by broadcaster, writer and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) ambassador Dr Emily Grossman.

Nikos Saavas, principal and chief executive at West Suffolk College, said: “It was a brilliant day. So many people came from all over the region to listen to top speakers in the world of education or to learn from the experience of their colleagues.

“Among the subjects discussed were staff recruitment and retention as well as Ofsted inspections, creativity and every aspect of education you could think of.

“We have had fantastic feedback and we hope everyone went back to their schools inspired and even more passionate about education.”

Among the exhibitors was social enterprise Realise Futures, which works with disabled and disadvantaged people across the county, including at Nowton Park Nursery, in Bury.

Lyndsey Hessey, who manages two Realise Futures social enterprises, said: “We are here to network with colleagues and share some good practice, as well as take part in some of the many sessions. It’s been really useful for us to meet new organisations that we might be able to work with.”

Youngsters from St Benedict’s School, in Bury, took part in lively debates about the future of faith education and painted canvas pictures to reflect the choices they make in education.

The festival, which had the theme future-proofing the workforce, was sponsored by learning company Pearson and Suffolk County Council education initiative Raising the Bar.



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