Marches Academy Trust Festival of Education 2016

On Friday 1st July 2016, The Marches Academy Trust held a national Festival of Education at The Marches School in Oswestry. And what a day it was! From Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and renowned film studio Aardman Animations to a baby T-Rex called Sophie and a cheeky and very chatty robot called Baxter, the entire school came alive with the sound of fun and learning.

The festival brought together educators from all across the county and far beyond, with delegates making the trek from as far as Scotland to listen to talks from esteemed practitioners such as Pank Patel (Regional Schools Commissioner for the West Midlands), Professor Mick Waters (former Director of Curriculum at QCA) and Dr Peter DeWitt (an expert in Visible Learning, the key theme of the festival). The day continued with outstanding presentations by the RSC, Dr Nick Ware and London Fields Primary school

However, the event was not solely for teachers. Students from across the area got to enjoy an entire day of activities, workshops and inspirational talks from the likes of Eddie the Eagle, whose incredible and inspiring journey to the 1988 Olympics has recently been made into a major feature film. As well as careers advice and a whole host of motivational speakers, the festival offered students of all ages the opportunity to get involved in all kinds of enjoyable and educational goings-on. One moment students were being put through their paces on assault courses by the Armed Forces, and the next they were being shown the art of fencing whilst Roman soldiers and giant Cretaceous theropods looked on.

The event was a huge success all round, with speakers, delegates and students alike all bowled over by the scope of the event, which was the first of its kind in the area. The aim of the festival was to give both local teachers and local students chances that might otherwise be unavailable to them, providing valuable professional development for the former, and vital information and experience for the latter.

The day ended with a special screening of Set Fire to the Stars, a triple BAFTA-winning film starring Elijah Wood and Celyn Jones, produced by Andy Evans, a filmmaker originally from Oswestry. As well as offering an informative and charismatic Q&A session alongside rising star Celyn Jones, Mr Evans also gave a talk to students earlier in the day, who learnt that being from a small town in Shropshire  doesn’t mean the likes of Hollywood success is out of one’s grasp.

Professor Mick Waters talked about the significance of this type of event, saying it is “extremely important for teachers to come together and share good practice and build ideas to use in their own classrooms.” Discussing the set-up of the festival, he praised the decision to involve the students in the day, saying: “I have met amazing people who are doing an incredible job, and having the children around is absolutely brilliant. Too often we set ourselves apart from children to talk about their education, but on this occasion there are youngsters everywhere, learning and gaining a better understanding [about their own education].”

Ruth Lloyd, Deputy Headteacher at The Marches School and one of the event’s lead organisers, commented, “What an amazing day! It was filled with an impressive list of innovative and influential educators, featuring fascinating talks, from the opening address by Pank Patel to the passionate keynote presentation by Professor Mick Waters. Educationalists from all over the UK attended, unanimously evaluating the various speakers as excellent. One delegate remarked that we should all ‘be proud to work here’ while another commented that the day was ‘a fantastic achievement that would put Oswestry on the Educational map’.

“I believe that the festival was unique and ground breaking – for the first time we moved national and international speakers away from the cities and out into a more remote, rural setting, where they received a rapturous and well-deserved response from all of the delegates. One of the speakers remarked that ours was ‘one of the best audiences ever’ and we were commended on our venue, our hospitality and our organisation. Here’s looking forward to next year’s event!”

The festival will return to The Marches School for a second year on Friday 30th June 2017.

Posted by marchesadmin on 5th July 2016, under Uncategorized

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