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New insight and inspired thinking for parents and teachers

Dorset school hosts Coronation poet and impressive speaker line-up at events to promote creativity and wellbeing in children.

Welcoming well over 300 teachers and educationalists from state and independent schools across the south and west of England, Richard Jones, Head of Bryanston, emphasised the importance of children loving their minds and using creative thought in his opening address at the 2023 Bryanston Education Summit.

“It’s anyone’s guess what jobs the next generation will be doing,” said Jones. “The rise of Artificial Intelligence, the metaverse and other advances in technology represent a paradigm shift in the employment landscape, so the ability to adapt to change and take new challenges in one’s stride will be essential. That’s why the power and enjoyment of creative thinking is so fundamental in the education of today’s children and why the teaching profession can gain so much from the insight and experience of the speakers at this year’s Summit.”

Daljit Nagra delivered the keynote speech for the record number of delegates at the increasingly popular annual event hosted by Bryanston school in Dorset. The acclaimed poet, creative writing lecturer and Chair of the Royal Society of Literature was responsible for the poem read by James Nesbitt at the coronation celebration for King Charles III.

For the first time, a 21st Century Parenting event was also held the day prior to the Summit to provide new insight and practical advice to help parents rise to the ever-evolving challenges of modern parenting. Over 100 parents attended this inaugural event where they had access to experts with a wealth of knowledge on topics ranging from self-harm and eating disorders to gambling, drugs and bullying.

The theme of this year’s Education Summit was ‘Learn to love your mind’ and focussed on new ideas to develop imagination, curiosity and creativity in children. The diverse range of speakers included education specialists and advisers, child psychologists, inclusion experts and senior executives from the creative industry. CreativeHut, an official partner of LEGO Education, was also in attendance providing a range of interactive workshops and immersive activities to ignite creative thinking and demonstrate innovative methods for cultivating curiosity and motivating children. And music scholars from Bryanston provided entertainment throughout the lunch period.

“Cultural and linguistic diversity provides fuel for the creative thought process,” said Daljit Nagra. “By raising awareness of the bigger picture and improving our understanding of sensitivities and differences within our communities, such diversity enables us to create new perspectives on the way we view the world and to develop the skills and imagination for persuasive and well-informed storytelling.”

"Events like the Bryanston Education Summit are vital for the educational community,” said Stephen Davies, Director of the event. “Our Summit provides a platform for sharing insights, exchanging ideas, and igniting inspired thinking. In an ever-evolving world, it is essential to come together, learn from one another, and collectively shape the future of education. These gatherings celebrate innovation, nurture creativity, and empower educators to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."

Peps Mccrea, an award-winning educator, designer and author, used his presentation to emphasise how a decline in the motivation levels of pupils as they progress through their school years should be a “call to arms for the teaching profession.” He highlighted the importance of techniques to help boost motivation levels of children such as behavioural and structural routines, nudging the unwritten rules and social norms of communities as well as ways to gain buy-in and a sense of belonging.

Such a transformational approach to education was echoed by many other speakers including David Price OBE, the author of the Amazon best-seller ‘How we’ll work live and learn in the future’ and Rob Coe Visiting Professor of Education at the Centre for Mathematical Cognition at Loughborough University. Education reformer, Bill Lucas, emphasised the need for a supportive environment and culture to allow creativity to flourish.“Asking questions for which there is no right answer, providing opportunity for play and experimentation, showing respect for the differences of others and leaving scope for the unexpected all help to foster purpose, curiosity and ingenuity,” he said.

Bradley Busch an expert in the use of cognitive science and advanced learning techniques to improve education attainment, talked about the need for teachers to see through the ‘illusion of learning’. “Providing the right answers to standard questions is a measure of recall not of successful learning. It’s far better to interleave concepts between different subject areas and to allow pupils to compare, contrast and interpret. This enhances the learning process and helps to focus attention by integrating new information with existing prior knowledge.”

Equality, inclusion and the need to think beyond convention to reflect the different learning needs of individuals featured prominently in many of the speaker presentations, including Elly Chapple, Dr Pippa Busch, Hannah Hamid and Bryanston’s Deputy Head of Pupil Development and Wellbeing, Dr Preetpal Bachra.

And Dr Ruth Moyse, a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, highlighted the need to reframe the narrative around autism. A medicalised, deficit-based understanding of autism creates stigma, which is reinforced by negative language, and can result in assumptions and premature judgements around abilities and needs,” she said. Autistic young people have a way of thinking that is different, not less. Many are great problem-solvers, with exceptional observational skills, the ability to hyper-focus and a values-driven mindset. Our role as educators should be to accept them as they are, foster a sense of belonging and connection, and adopt a strengths-based, person-centred approach that enables them to thrive.

Other speakers included paralympic athlete, Sam Ruddock; poet and memoirist, Hannah Lowe; award-winning Creative Director, Paul Kitcatt, Sascha Evans and Gareth Morewood.

“This year’s Bryanston Education Summit was a day to celebrate diversity and ingenuity and the feedback has been extremely positive,” says Assistant Head (Teaching and Learning) at Bryanston, Will Bridges. “Taking the time to learn how we might develop inclusive classrooms while upskilling staff has provided delegates with new ideas and tools to deliver best practice and provide pupils with the best possible learning experience. The thought-provoking presentations from our speakers showed how we can think creatively about the different learning needs of pupils and how, as teachers, we can help every child fulfil their potential.”