4 things we learnt at the HMC Autumn Conference 2017

From creating stronger partnerships to a social media rebellion, the HMC Conference covered a variety of topics impacting the independent sector

‘Now is the time to start remoulding the education debate,” stated Chris King, Chair of HMC and Head of Leicester Grammar School, at this year’s HMC Autumn Conference. This statement was placed in his annual address and set the tone perfectly for the speeches and discussions that followed.

This year, the conference was held at The Europa in Belfast and focused on ‘celebrating the difference,’ a theme which asked the attendees to consider how they were nurturing the different pupils at their school. The conference ran from 2–5 October and contained a diverse and exciting programme, which forced everyone to take a step back and reassess their schools. 

During the conference, the Independent Education Today team had the pleasure of meeting many of the delegates and joining in with the lively discussions. Here is an example of some of the subjects that were discussed…

1. Pupils, not policies, need to be at the heart of education policy 

In Chris King’s address he discussed the importance of all areas of the education sector working together and that a “more collaborative, less aggressive approach is urgently needed.” He hopes that state and independent schools will form a new unity over the next few years which will mean they can solve problems facing schools. He also revealed that ASCL and NAHT are keen to work with independent schools, as they agree that both sectors are working towards the same goal: to prepare young people for adult life.  

2. QI could inspire pupils

John Lloyd, creator of Blackadder and QI (to name a few), was a speaker at the conference and he revealed his plan for a ‘QI Bootcamp’. The idea started when he discovered that teachers were using the QI books as a hook at the beginning of their lessons. Keith Budge, Headmaster at Bedales School and convenor of the conference, heard John talk about the QI principle – a system of research and study – and realised that it could inspire lessons which might be in other respects be predictable. Consequently, they are working together to test this theory on sixth form pupils at Bedales. Watch this space to see if it does make an impact… 

3. Young people are rebelling against social media 

During the conference, HMC also revealed a survey which they had conducted with Digital Awareness UK. This survey focused on social media and revealed that 63% of young people wouldn’t mind if social media hadn’t been invented. More than 5,000 students from HMC schools took part in the research and it highlighted that a rebellion against social media is brewing as young people are starting the feel the negative impact of these platforms. For example, 52% said social media made them feel less confident, and 57% have received abusive comments online. 

4. Technology can make education more accessible 

What will the schools of the future look like? Mark Steed, Director at JESS Dubai, has some ideas as he revealed his five prophecies of the future of schooling at the conference. From ‘superstar teachers’ to virtual reality teaching, Mark explained how technology could give young people – who might not have had the opportunity before – an education. For example, JESS are working on a 360-degree camera in the classroom which would allow people to experience a top-class education wherever they are. It appears the future is now. 

After another successful HMC conference, we are already looking forward to next year – what will 2018 bring for the independent education sector? 

W: hmc.org.uk


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