Blog

The Titans of Education – The IncludED Conference 2019 

When pondering over what to title this article, the phrase that embodied the spirit of the day was that uttered by Founder and CEO of The Difference, Kiran – “The Titans of Education.” She was referring to the crowd that had given up their Saturday to discuss the issue of exclusion. That crowd consisted of teachers, therapists, social enterprises, representatives from the Department of Education and countless others. It was an amalgamation of those that care that 41 pupils are excluded in the UK every day and that 85% of children in the Criminal Justice System were once excluded. They care that this issue disproportionately affects children with Special Educational Needs, those who have had social service interaction and those born into poverty. We gave up our Saturday to come together to share and learn in order to answer some of the biggest questions around exclusion. This was a day for the titans of education – a day for the impassioned superheroes of learning to be part of a movement toward hope. And what a movement it was.

The day kicked off with a set of extraordinary speeches from students whose lives have been affected by exclusion. These young people were eloquent, funny, and inspiring. They provided expert guidance on supporting young people and noted that there are three rules. Firstly, give attention for positive behaviour and never give up hope about change. Secondly, teachers need to find activities that inspire– if a child likes to argue, get them into debating! Finally, let the young people that you work with know that you’re more than a staff member, you’re a human being. That trust and balance between being warm and strict can change lives.

Students resize.jpg

After the insightful and slightly tear-jerking beginning to the morning we filled numerous classrooms at the Oasis Academy Southbank, ready to learn about topics ranging from how ethnicity factors into exclusions, to knife crime and working with families.

IncludEd session resize.jpg

My first session was on Trauma Informed Practice was run by Shaun Brown from The Difference who explained the origins of trauma, which can stem from attachment trauma whereby an infant looks for a secure attachment to an adult and this is neglected. By failing to meet the basic needs of the infant, for example not responding to the child communicating with you, this creates emotional defence strategies and impacts brain development. What was most intriguing was how Developmental Trauma Disorder manifests in difficulties with functions such as social and emotional communication, attentiveness and regulating emotions. This can present as perfectionism, bullying others who are vulnerable and aggression – and an understanding of this can help practitioners not to take certain responses from children they work with personally. The session was incredibly enlightening.

Shaun resize.jpg

My first session was on Trauma Informed Practice was run by Shaun Brown from The Difference who explained the origins of trauma, which can stem from attachment trauma whereby an infant looks for a secure attachment to an adult and this is neglected. By failing to meet the basic needs of the infant, for example not responding to the child communicating with you, this creates emotional defence strategies and impacts brain development. What was most intriguing was how Developmental Trauma Disorder manifests in difficulties with functions such as social and emotional communication, attentiveness and regulating emotions. This can present as perfectionism, bullying others who are vulnerable and aggression – and an understanding of this can help practitioners not to take certain responses from children they work with personally. The session was incredibly enlightening.

Session Audience resize.jpg

Another session I was wowed by was delivered by the Principal of the WAC Arts College James Fornara. His college was the first free school specialising in alternative provision where students who have struggled in their education elsewhere can focus on the arts. I was in awe that the college helped their students, who were not usually fans of Maths, to learn by being taught by the University of the Third Age mature students – which removed the shame of not understanding amongst peers. The college understands the ways in which many autistic students learn and gives them two lessons a day to allow for hours of focused activity which suits their learning style. James shared the story of a student who would have to be restrained daily, prior to attending the WAC Arts College. However, since enrolling at the college, he hasn’t once been involved in a physical intervention. To me, that spoke to the power of the arts, and was a testament to the change that can occur in educational environments that are driven by informed, passionate teachers.

crowd shot resize.jpg

I have never been to a conference and nearly cried six times. The energy that fuelled the day was electric – I felt like I was going to burst, I was that inspired. When we are in our classrooms or offices or in meetings, and we are fighting so ferociously to make change, at times we can forget that we are not alone in this. The IncludED Conference marks the beginning of a new era of hope. It is far from being the beginning of this movement, but this new wave will give young people more hope than ever of a future that doesn’t involve exclusion, gangs, prison or poverty. And that is a future we can all look forward to.

DSC06888.jpg

Written by Scarlett Stock
Schools Outreach Delivery Lead at Pathway CTM - Pathway CTM is a social enterprise helping to unlock school leavers’ potential by raising aspirations, boosting confidence and opening students’ eyes to all of the options for Post-18.

Make you sure you hear about our latest events by signing up to our mailing list.