Meeting of minds as university hosts major conference

A MAJOR education conference in Yorkshire starts today which is expected to attract more than 300 experts, head teachers and academics from around the world.

The North of England Education conference is being held at Sheffield Hallam University this year.

Speakers at the event include Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Sheffield Hallam’s chancellor Lord Robert Winston and former education secretary and Sheffield MP David Blunkett.

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Education and Child Care Minister Elizabeth Truss will deliver a keynote speech tomorrow as will Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg.

On Friday Lord Baker will give a speech on the future of secondary education. The former education secretary is now chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust which is rolling out university technical colleges (UTCs) across the country.

UTCs are a new type of school for 14 to 19-year-olds which offer a specialised technical education alongside traditional academic subjects.

The first UTC in Yorkshire is set to open this year in Sheffield specialising in advanced engineering and manufacturing and creative digital media. Charlie Taylor, the chief executive of the Teaching Agency for Schools, will also be delivering a speech on Friday - the final day of the conference.

The North of England Education Conference is now in its 109th year. This year’s event is entitled Mind, Brain, Community: Inspiring Learners, Strengthening Resilience.

Organisers say speakers and delegates will also be focussing on the “mind and brain in relation to learning, schools, parents and healthy communities, specifically investigating the link between neuroscience and education”.

The event has been jointly organised by Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield University and Sheffield Council.

The authority’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families Coun Jackie Drayton said: “We are delighted to welcome this prestigious conference to our city. This will certainly help in putting the city on the map as a centre for prestigious meetings, both at national and international level.

“I am looking forward to listening to the eminent speakers and meeting delegates from this country and abroad.”

Sheffield is hosting the education conference alongside a city wide Festival of Learning.