My Experience at The Festival of Education
Several students were invited to attend The Festival of Education, a prestigious event on the 20th June, taking place at the even more prestigious school, Wellington College. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the section of the event we visited was run in partnership with Future Foundations (a few of you might remember them from the GSL trip to Taunton and from the Amazon AWSGet IT programme).
The day started bright and early with us meeting at the school at 7.30am (I know, whoever thought that I would ever be able to get to school that early!) with a swift departure on the School Bus. A couple of hours and lots of songs later and we arrived at the biggest, most extravagant school I had ever seen. It was like walking straight into Hogwarts.
It was a challenge to find our way to the Old Gym but eventually we made it in just enough time to find our seats and settle in for the first talk, one on Living Leadership by former England Cricket Captain, Andrew Strauss. It was an inspiring talk with insight into the struggles and rewards of being a leader as well as some useful tips on dealing with members of your team. It was a talk everyone enjoyed immensely with a lot being learned.
Then was the interactive talk hosted by Sanum Khan and Beki Martin on the Greta Thunberg effect and the extent to which schools and teachers should be supporting young people to become active citizens. While most people agreed that education was the key to learning about our world and society and therefore children should not be released to attend Climate Change marches, a few thought that the time for change was now and schools should be gearing their students and allowing them time off in order to protest for what they personally believed was right. Whichever side of the argument you were on, it was an enthralling talk and opened everybody’s eyes to the different beliefs people have.
After this was a talk about the use of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) in the present day society and whether it could change the world. I was given the immense honour of speaking on the panel alongside Alex Bell (also a speaker at the Garden of Eden for those of you on the GSL trip), water engineer Eva Linnell and technology guru Charlie Anderson. It was a nerve wracking experience with a variety of questions being asked, like how Townley promotes STEAM, an area where I was able to really talk a lot about our STEM days and careers fair. However it did make me consider how as a school and wider community, we could be more inclusive of Art alongside the other aspects of STEM.
Then came the part which I really enjoyed, visiting the tents. It was like being in a busy market place with everyone promoting a different business. By the time we came out, lets just say we must have been marketing nearly every company there. The amount of free items we had been given was immense: from tote bags from the Imperial War Museum to highlighters from BBC Bitesize to being given the opportunity to fly a drone. This was by far one of my favourite parts of the day and we could go back to the Old Gym feeling refreshed and ready for the next session.
The next talk was on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and how students and schools globally could use them to change the world. This was one I could really relate to and there was diverse age range of people discussing how they had turned their own dreams into real life projects. A few of the younger panellists described their own projects including building local skateparks and organising beach clean ups. From this, we all learnt that no idea is ever a silly one and if only you have the passion, desire and capability for a lot of hard work, any dream can be accomplished.
Finally, a few students from Wellington College gave their ideas about different topical issues. The one that stands out most clearly in my mind is a girl who discussed factory disasters and the large number of suicidal deaths of farmers and manufacturers that result from our desire for new clothes, many of which are not necessary but are purchased for pleasure instead. As a keen shopper myself it really showed me that buying material goods, something that may not always have the largest impact on us, has a really big negative impact on a wide variety of people. It has really inspired me to purchase more ethically sourced clothes/products.
Finally we heard about a global competition (which in previous years had been won by Townley students) that required us to make a change in our school and local community that could later be upscaled to create a positive impact in the world. Together with Mrs Wickington we have been brainstorming ideas for our entry and have identified and are trying to find the solution to many problems that exist locally and globally. If any person has any ideas on issues and/or solutions that need to be addressed we are always open to new ideas and would love to hear your thoughts. We need every person to engage and provide support in order for this new project to reach its maximum potential.
Overall, I really enjoyed my day at the Festival of Education and the main message I took away from it is education is the key to understanding but it is what you do with that understanding that can really make an impact.
By R Myers, Year 8