International Festival of Learning

Neil Carmichael
Neil Carmichael
On the 16th April, I participated in the International Festival of Learning, East. It was held at West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds, and also sponsored by many organisations including TES, Pearson, ASCL, John Catt Educational Limited, British Council (recently subject to diplomatic retaliation by Russia) and many others.

There was a definite ‘buzz’, no doubt further stimulated by the proper spring weather for the day…

My purpose in being there was to deliver two talks. One for the publisher, John Catt, of my forthcoming book with the working title of “Progressive, Productive and Proper”.  It explores my thesis suggesting the UK’s poor economic productivity and problems with social immobility are two sides of the same coin, and, to solve the puzzle, as the blurb noted – quoting something I said to Schools Week – “To make the best of Brexit and, indeed, to address some of the primary factors in the Leave vote, the government should be considering a game-changing approach to education, investment in the Keynesian way should be uplifted, alongside major structural reforms to ensure UK workers have the skills we need to push our economy forward.”

My second talk focussed on the impact on universities from Brexit. Here I concentrated on the prospects for international students in terms of ‘exporting education’, future of networks especially joint-research projects across borders and role of universities in helping to stimulate growth in cities and regions.

Other sessions I attended or noted were on an eclectic range of subjects – teaching of mathematics, inclusion strategies, school leadership, physical exercise and wellbeing were among many issues discussed.

Two really encouraging characteristics of the day dominated. Firstly, there is a vibrant, innovative and enthusiastic debate across the education sector about teaching and learning. Any casual observer would be left in no doubt about the sense of mission so people in the sector have.

Second, the future of book publishing is assured. Love of the printed page, and the ideas, knowledge and imagination surging from them, is at the heart of learning.

This is great news for all organisations in the world of education – like The Key – because the things we all do make a real and positive difference to people’s lives.

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