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Today I’m writing from Sheffield, where I’m attending the North of England Education Conference (NEEC 2013).  This year's theme is 'Mind, Brain, Community: Inspiring Learners, Strengthening Resilience'.  Day one was crammed with fascinating talks. It will take me some time to digest it all before writing about it more fully at a later date, but here is a sample of some of the points that stood out from the day:

Interschool collaboration – Rt. Hon. David Blunkett emphasised the need for school-to-school collaboration, stating that schools cannot succeed by turning in on themselves but instead must work together. He recommended the recent Academies Commission report Unleashing Greatness , which was launched last week at the RSA, as an insightful overview of collaboration and other pressing issues.

Rt. Hon. David Blunkett...commended the recent Academies Commission report Unleashing Greatness, which was launched last week at the RSA, as an insightful overview of collaboration and other pressing issues.

Wellbeing and wellness domains - Dr Isaac Prilleltensky led a very energetic keynote session. He argued that to date, there has been a focus on bio-psycho domains of wellbeing, and not enough focus on social aspects of wellbeing such as community and family life. Further, he emphasized that wellbeing must be evaluated by both subjective and object measures.

And, much later in the day, Caroline Sarajoni Hart echoed Prilleltensky when she spoke about teacher wellbeing, saying that no one measure of wellbeing should be used as a meaningful proxy for overall wellbeing. Hart discussed Sen’s Capability Approach to get the audience thinking about how to convert teacher aspirations into capabilities or options for action.

Attunement - The concept of attunement came up in several sessions. My understanding of attunement is that it is a form of reciprocal, self-reinforcing interaction and an effective response to the other’s needs; so a baby will mirror his mother’s smile, and the mother replies to the baby’s cries with food, soothing caress, or a fresh nappy as appropriate. Both Zoe Brownlie and Marlo Winstead explained the importance of caregiver / child attunement for healthy brain development and ultimately student engagement in school years.

These were just a few of the many topics discussed. I’m looking forward to tomorrow...


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