A bumper audience participated in the ‘Taking the Advantage for the Disadvantaged’ conference, HfL's event for removing the barriers for disadvantaged learners. Rachel Macfarlane, HfL’s new Director of Education Services, gave the motivating opening address at the Fielder Centre, Hatfield.
Rachel talked about removing the barriers for disadvantaged learners, drawing on her wealth of experience including visiting schools in Islamabad, and gave examples of disadvantaged pupils’ triumph over hugely challenging circumstances.
Daniel Sobel then inspired the audience with his own personal story of overcoming disadvantage to become an academic and then a teacher and SENCO, and his journey to become Founder and Lead Consultant of The Inclusion Expert. He had lots of practical, simple suggestions for the audience to take away and implement in their own schools and settings.
Delegates then went on to a range of mixed-phase workshops, sharing best practice from schools from across the county, alongside Herts for Learning’s own specialist advisers.
In the afternoon, Jeremy Spencer, Senior HMI in the East of England talked about ‘ways in for the disadvantaged’ in the curriculum. He also told delegates about Ofsted’s move towards focusing on what he called ‘The three ‘I’s: Intent, Implementation and Impact’ and ‘memorable learning’.
Dr Caroline Creaby, Research School Director and Deputy Headteacher at Sandringham School, explained how to make best use of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Toolkit to support disadvantaged students, advising delegates to have the courage to ‘stop, reflect and redirect’. She also gave useful insights into how to utilise research, the EEF Toolkit and the research schools to inform work in this area.
HfL’s Diminishing the Difference Lead Adviser, Linda Hardman, then closed the conference, remarking on how the conference had left her feeling reflective and energised.
Rachel Macfarlane also enthused:
"It was fantastic to see such a large turnout for this event; with the exception of the Primary Heads Conference, it is Herts for Learning's biggest event. It speaks volumes of the commitment of Hertfordshire headteachers, governors and staff to closing the gap between the attainment of more and less advantaged children. Those who attended the conference were inspired and challenged by high profile guest speakers, and our own innovative and creative practitioners within Hertfordshire schools.”