Voices & choices – The first-ever hundrED #glocal

5th February 2019

We were incredibly excited to co-host the world’s very first GLocal event, part of the HundrED initiative to support and share pedagogically sound innovations within education across the world.

As Big Education, we are immensely proud that Voice 21 were recognised as a HundrED global innovator for 2018. Voice 21 is building a powerful ecosystem around oracy education – the teaching of effective communication skills. Now working with over 400 schools across the UK, Beccy and her team are leading professional development programmes for teachers and partnering with schools, equipping them with the tools to effectively teach and lead oracy.

Despite the freezing January temperatures and threats of snow, we were delighted to welcome teachers, leaders, social entrepreneurs and parents to the International Academy of Greenwich (IAG). There was a wonderful atmosphere of openness and excitement about new opportunities and ideas.

The GLocal event was an opportunity to showcase 4 international innovations, including Voice 21, and 4 local projects or ideas. We were also delighted to have students from IAG, the very first HundrED Youth Ambassadors, who were showcasing a powerful piece of social enterprise of their own – they have built a candle making business to raise money for refugees and made a film about their experiences. Very inspiring role models!

Alex Bell, of Portland Education and a HundrED Ambassador, hosted the event with aplomb, and drew out the connections on our theme of ‘voices and choices’, two aspects that we think are areas for exploration and growth in schools and our system as a whole. We live-streamed on Twitter and Facebook and have since reached over 3000 people – a great way for us to feel globally accessible and connected. You can view the twitter live stream here.

So – the innovations themselves! The theme of ‘voices’ was explored by Beccy from Voice 21, focusing both on the content of what they do, but also sharing advice to other social entrepreneurs about how they have grown and developed. Key lesson – take your feedback loops seriously and make sure your ‘products’ continue to develop and evolve as you do!

We also heard from the hugely inspiring Nadine Barnard, who, alongside being school leader and mother, has founded the @iamhereweseeyou initiative, aiming to spotlight and showcase black and minority ethnic role models, both in education and across sectors. Driven by her own personal experience as a mother to two young black boys growing up in South London, hers was a powerful story of passion translating into action.

Serdar, founder of the brilliant Lyfta resources, continued the theme of different voices, by sharing the power of their immersive tools in building empathy and understanding across cultures and continents. Through a beautifully and thoughtfully curated world of film, text and photography, students can immerse themselves and connect at an extraordinarily human level with those who, on first impressions, they would have little in common with. Genuinely inspiring and much needed in our current social and political context.

The theme of action was picked up by Sebastien Chapleau, head of La Fontaine Academy, and advocate for social action through Citizens UK. His examples of students undertaking real social projects gave a practical call to action of what can be achieved by children, as young as 6 or 7. His closing words stay with me;

Another Big Education home grown initiative was shared by the dynamic and compelling Leila Douri, from Surrey Square Primary School. She shared her own relationship with the values that the school has developed so extensively, and her own powerful motivation to work in a holistic way, developing both personal and academic excellence for everyone, every day. About to become a mum herself (we were glad it wasn’t during the event!), she gave a powerful challenge as to what school should be for – and practical examples of how a more expansive education can be designed and delivered at school level.

I also enjoyed hearing from Stephanie at Passmore’s academy, about the powerful work they have been doing on pupil voice. This work has moved far beyond some of the tokenistic work in many schools, and really thought about how students can be an active part of the design, quality and development of the school. By honouring students’ voices and really hearing their information about their experiences of the school, they have created a mutually respectful environment where students know they will be heard, but also understand their responsibilities within that context. As my grandad always used to say to me, ‘where there are rights, there are also responsibilities.’ Agreed – this is the route to mutuality and working together as a school community rather than pulling in separate directions.

We also heard from Riku Alkio, Chief Executive of SEPPO, who are a fascinating organisation that combine social learning and mobile technology. So many children have a love of gaming, and there is so much learning in every game. SEPPO have created a platform in which educators can bring games into school, to increase the excitement about learning and bring technology into the classroom. It’s so great to see a powerful example of technology enhancing education.

Last, but not least, we heard from Pero Sardzoski, a pioneer of the ‘Digital Literacy for EFL Students’ initiative. We now live in a digital and globalised world and we must recognise this when teaching young people. Students can learn so much when being connected with others. This exciting innovation wholeheartedly believes in this, as the programme helps students to learn English through building digital products that connect them with the rest of the world. Thanks so much to Pero and his students for taking our questions at the end – all the way from Macedonia!

Thank you to everyone who helped make the event a success and engaged with it online. We think this is a powerful approach to sharing ideas and making connections and look forward to supporting future events.

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