National Conference: looking back, facing forwards

“We owe you a huge debt of thanks.” Kate Green MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education

What a year 2020 was, and we were fortunate on Monday 1st February to have a deep focus on the central learning and challenges of the year just gone, and how we head into the rest of 2021 as educators and cooperators. 

We started proceedings with the Shadow Secretary State for Education, Kate Green. In a wide ranging interview with Jon O’Connor, Chair of Coop Schools, Kate talked about the the role of education in our world, the government and the (lack of) trust it has placed in schools, and the knowledge and skills young people need for their 21st century lives. At Coop Schools, we particularly welcomed her ambition to build on pandemic-focused community activism and the increased value and trust placed by wider society in school staff and teachers.

On Gavin Williamson, Kate declared, ‘I don’t see him as the man who understands the transformative power of education, and the transformative demands we are placing on our education system to rebuild.’ She stated that elected politicians have an obligation ‘to stand with you, invest in you, to recognise and celebrate your professionalism and achievements.’

It was inspiring stuff, and this was shaped up further in the discussion panel with Anna Birley, Policy Officer of the Cooperative Party, James Pope from HeadsUp and Whole Education, and Brian Lightman, now an educational consultant and formerly General Secretary of ASCL. This panel also looked to the challenges of last year, but at the same time had their eyes firmly focused on the future. Schools and Trusts were challenged to hold their ground on what they believe is right for their young people and communities, focus on well-being and care, and build support across networks, through organisations like our own.

Our conference continues on our YouTube channel, with video of the conference as well as other exclusive content. 

Two of our Youtube highlights:

A conversation with Harry Kutty, Chair of the Aspire Cooperative Trust in Southampton and Head Teacher of Cantell School. In the video, Harry address how a school/university partnership with powerful insight and strong values led to a innovative and radical approach to Covid management for schools in Southampton – with interest now reaching across the region into other local authorities.

Vic Goddard, co-principal of Passmores Academy in Harlow, shares his thoughts on his own history, first teaching posts and coming right up to date with a frank discussion of the Challenges of Covid.

You can follow Anna Birley on Twitter and find out more about the Cooperative Party here. James Pope is also on Twitter, and more about HeadsUp here. Brian Lightman’s Twitter account is also somewhere to keep an eye on. Click on their names here to find out more about Harry Kutty’s and Vic Goddard’s cooperative schools.

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