The UK General Election - 4th July 2024

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Schools and Academies Show 2023

Isabella Perales

Account Director

Another year of the Schools and Academies Show’s London session has come and gone, and a number of PLMR Education’s team members attended to hear the latest on-the-ground insights from across the sector. We hear from the team on their time at the show, as they reflect on the interesting talks, the exciting exhibitors, and most of all a sector which continues to be as passionate as ever about changing the lives of young people.

 

Tiffany Beck, Head of Education

As always, it was a great day for running into contacts new and old, chatting all things education and hearing directly from decision and policy makers and key influencers. There were three key themes that hummed throughout many of the talks, the first two being the need to be engaging with decision and policy makers and the need to be highlighting issues facing schools in an accessible way for the wider public – both issues PLMR Education is keen to support. The third theme? Just how hard-working, thoughtful and expert the people across our education system are. If you ever need to feel inspired, spend a day embedded with teachers and leaders.

 

Harriet Price, Account Executive

In a time of real challenge and change for schools and the wider sector, the Schools and Academies Show was a valuable opportunity to speak to education professionals about their thoughts, enthusiasm and current areas of focus for their schools or trusts. The speakers provided varied and insightful conversations about significant topics and policies – I particularly enjoyed the talks on ensuring effective and lasting change initiatives in schools and tackling the mental health crisis in schools where the importance of fostering leadership, resilience and support in schools underlined approaches to the changing education environment.

 

Luke Walpole, Account Director

Even in the face of existential challenges across the sector, the mood of the Schools and Academies Show was energetic and laced with optimism. With dedicated spaces available for individuals and organisations to discuss sustainability, SEND, governance, and everything in between, the show was an intriguing mix of niche specialism and shared experience. With that said, there were three topics that kept rearing their head: recruitment / retention, funding and Ofsted. Though there were several practical plans put forward by speakers on the main stage and elsewhere, the fact remains that the implementation of sustainable solutions to the sector’s issues is contingent on the political will of the government.

 

Rachel Allerton, Account Manager

Attending the Schools and Academies Show was an excellent chance to hear from and speak to key players in the education space. From policymakers to headteachers and service providers, the day was a true window into the sector. There was a real buzz and clearly lots of plans and innovations aimed at overcoming the challenges facing education.

Alongside hearing the keynote speech from Baroness Barron, I attended talks on teacher recruitment and retention, the National Tutoring Programme and using AI in the classroom. I came away with lots of interesting insights from these sessions, including both the benefits and challenges regarding the use of AI to support learning and teacher workload, and will be sharing key takeaways with my clients.

 

Isabella Perales, Account Director

Despite the continued challenges schools across the country have faced in recent years, one thing is still true, the sector if full of engaging, passionate and inspiring individuals who make for an outstanding sector. From Mental Health Leads discussing their approach to supporting students and staff in their schools, to SENCOs sharing best practice on supporting those with additional needs, the day was full of expert insights and an enthusiasm to do the best for the young people they serve.

Ofsted continued to be a hot topic, and Ofsted’s National Director of Education took to the stage to share the latest from the organisation. While he also braved a Q&A, his initial presentation offered a keen insight into what Ofsted sees as the priority in the coming months and years and pinpointed some of the key areas we can expect to see progress.

 

Rebecca Seaford, Account Executive

I attended four talks: Beyond Ofsted: Innovation in a self-improving System of Accountability, What have we learned from Our Winter of Discontent?; The Gamification of Education, and Introduction to School Land and Transactions. The overarching theme that came from these discussions was that the accountability structures placed upon schools should be focused on driving excellence. Speakers talked of these structures being too punitive, which can stifle innovation and hinder driving up standards. Additionally, there was a call for government school policy development to be more child-centric, as by focusing on children’s needs first and foremost, schools will become more modern and dynamic.

 

Rachael Dillon, Account Manager

The Schools and Academies Show provided an opportunity to gain valuable insights on education from experts across the space, and I was able to learn more about a wide range of topics, from school governance to the motivations behind government direction on education. In particular, policy expert Sam Freedman shared his thoughts on what the Labour and Conservative priorities will be, moving into the next General Election. With representation from every area of the sector, it was an interesting eyeopener into all the various organisations at work behind the scenes to support our schools, colleges, universities and more.

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