There’s nothing like a bit of inspirational thinking when it comes to reigniting a young person’s passion for English and maths.
Practitioners from across the Tees Valley and County Durham have been working together to find new ways to do just that.
More than 150 further education professionals from across the region gathered at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium to share expertise and knowledge at the second mE+ Conference.
One of the biggest events of its kind, with workshops from industry leading guest speakers, the conference offers a unique opportunity to reflect, share and learn.
“The aim is to bring together maths and English practitioners from further education colleges to share knowledge and skills, to help drive student engagement in these core areas,” said Rebecca Matthews, Stockton Riverside College’s Head of Department for English and maths.
With responsibility currently on further education providers to continue to deliver maths and English to those learners who haven’t achieved a grade 9-4 (the equivalent of an A*-C) in school, Rebecca said colleges have widely found there isn’t a quick fix.
She explained: “By bringing teachers together, the mE Conference offers the opportunity for colleges to share innovative new ideas and best practice, demonstrating a shared commitment to the students and their learning.”
The conference is the culmination of ideas from English and maths managers across the region, bringing together Stockton Riverside College, Redcar & Cleveland College, Darlington College, Hartlepool College of Further Education, Middlesbrough College, The Northern School of Art, Bishop Auckland College and East Durham College.
The initiative has been welcomed by the Association of College’s (AoC) 14-19 senior policy manager and keynote speaker, Catherine Sezen.
She said: “It is a unique event to get this number of English and maths teachers from different colleges together to share good practice. The fact that it is so collaborative sets a great example.”
Guest speakers included post-16 GCSE and functional maths specialist author Julia Smith, educationalist and author Jim Roberson, educational consultant Claire Gadsby, and teacher and author Jennifer Webb.
Julia Smith said: “A lot of value is put on maths and English and the collaborative working approach of this event is probably the most valuable part of the day.
“We are all here to learn, it helps keeps the passion for your subject alive. In my sessions we have been sharing ideas and tips, celebrating the diversity of the way we do things. I have a learnt a couple of new things myself that I will be trying.”
Offering tips on motivating the disengaged learner, Jim Roberson, who is originally from New York, said: “We have to keep learning for life as our students never stop learning.”
He said: “My session was about the relationships you build with your students, if you build a real relationship then that is when you get the most from them.”
While discussing techniques for teaching GCSE English, Jennifer Webb added: “I am a big advocate for teachers coming together to share skills and good practice. Allowing teachers time to do that is always a really powerful thing.”