Finally it was Saturday 7th June 2014, the date that a good proportion of my twitter timeline had been looking forward to. @Debrakidd and @emmaannhardy had organised a huge education conference in the North, Leeds to be precise and around 500 teachers were attending. The theme was ‘reclaiming pedagogy’ and there was a fabulous line up of guest speakers. It was to be the educational highlight of the year.
Carolyn (@Clyn40) and I set off on the train from Blackpool at 7 in the morning. We were incredibly tired after a week of 6 o’ clock starts but this trip was worth it we decided. As we approached Leeds the rain began to pour down. It was cats and dogs! We waited in line for a taxi with 6000 Women’s Institute members who had also descended on Leeds for a conference. They were a rowdy bunch it has to be said and not above pushing in the queue.
We were a little late arriving and caught the end of the keynote speech. Debra Kidd was in the Chair and she looked and was absolutely phenomenal. There was much discussion around the role of Ofsted and should or shouldn’t it be political. We all know it isn’t supposed to political but there is a general air of disbelief surrounding this. There was broad agreement from the panel that we need some kind of accountability but the current regime is not up to scratch. I can’t relay any more of the keynote because I missed most of it, but all delegates were clapping so I assume all were happy.
The day was organised in to various workshops and each delegate chose their own. Tricky for Carolyn and I as we wanted to see most of them. For workshop 1 we went to see Michael Tidd. I took my seat next to a lady and reached to put my bag on the floor. As I did so my eyes caught sight of a pair of incredibly beautiful, beige heeled shoes. Without looking up I knew immediately I was sitting next to the ORRSome @Rachelorr. Rachel is a lovely person and types scarily quickly! Back to Michael! Let me tell you here and now he is a marvellous presenter. He gave us his version of the new NC and compared it to the old one. He picked out parts of the old one he favoured and advised on aspects of the new one. He is humorous and a joy to see in action. He made things lovely and easy to understand which is a bonus for tired, wet teachers on a Saturday.
If you’re still struggling with the NC for September visit WWW.primarycurriculum.me.uk to view all Michael’s hard work.
Carolyn and I unfortunately missed the next workshop as we needed to dry off and grab a much needed drink. We were parched. We had a brief conversation with Emma and Debra in the market hall. I have met both girls before and am honoured to know them. Considering the magnitude of the event they had organised both girls were looking cool and composed. They were being interviewed and neither was concerned about this at all. At one point Emma had a fit of the giggles but recovered like a true professional.
Lunch time came and Carolyn and I met some fabulous people. We met the wonderful Tim Taylor @imagineinquiry, the very clever @chrischivers2, lovely @ali_bowman23 @educationbear and @heymisssmith who I have also met before and are 2 of my favourite tweeters. We also met @tstarkey1212 and @danpo_ who joined us for lunch.
Next we met THAT bag! My good friend @Mishwood1 has recently been to Buckingham Palace for a garden party (as you do!) and purchased a Mulberry bag for the occasion.
Now it was afternoon sessions and we had a choice about who to see. Carolyn had wanted to go to the ‘Solo’ session in the morning but we had missed it. I felt that Carolyn should have her choice in the afternoon. I wanted to see @ICTmagic in action I’m a huge fan of his stuff and have learned much from his tweets. Carolyn agreed. We found out later that Solo was totally full up so we couldn’t have seen it. We weren’t disappointed with Martin and learned of some new apps and enjoyed the session.
For the last session we went to see Debra herself. It was standing room only in her session. Her session was excellent. She was talking about building a curriculum to teach children to ‘kick ass’. In other words, to construct the curriculum in the best interests of the child. Well said Debra. This is the second time I’ve been in a room with Debra when she’s talking about her passion for education, she’s amazing. If you get chance to see her grasp it with both hands, you won’t be sorry.
The day ended on a very humorous note with Hywel Roberts and Mick Waters almost bringing the house down with their hilarious double act. What a duo these 2 are. They could easily have an alternative career in comedy. There was a big discussion around what we should call our profession if not teachers which kept us amused. Hywel was informed by Mick that he’d done teacher assessment on him and judged him to be a Level 2. Cheek! Quote from Hywel was met with much agreement ‘Teachers enjoy Friday night and Saturday night’, and he’s right, we certainly do. As @ teacher tweaks put it ‘Hywel and Mick are comedy gold, big hearted men. Great closing speech incl poetry, chickens, and list of laughs. They even had us all up singing ‘Always look on the bright side of life’. On a more serious note Mick said ‘Ofsted Inspectors should teach full time for half a term, every year and there would be more humility and less inspectors’. I put that tweet out and it has received over 50 RTs so I think there’s a serious message in there for Ofsted.
The session ended on an operatic note. The hugely talented @Rachel Orr sang ‘Heres to Teaching and Learning’. It was spine tinglingly good! What a remarkable finish to a wonderful day. Rachel received a standing ovation for her singing.
I did my best to tweet throughout the day and keep people informed of events. At one point @TeacherToolkit tweeted to thank me for keeping him up to date with the fashion accessories at #NRocks. You’re welcome Ross, I don’t want you missing out 😃
There were a few more people I’m thrilled to have met including @MaryMyatt who has been so helpful to me re Ofsted and @ jillberry who is simply a lovely lady both on twitter and in real life. I also met @ signpostcoach while scouting round looking for a brew. Another lovely lady who actually approached me to make sure we said hello. The last person I was very happy to meet was my #blogsync hero @Edutronic_Net I think this man is lovely, kind and patient and sensitive.
So there we have it. That was #NRocks 2014. Thank you Emma and Debra for arranging such a marvellous event. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The weather was grim but even you two can’t control that. An outstanding day by 2 outstanding teachers.
Thank you @clyn40 for your company.