25th June 2021 — Last Friday, University College School in Hampstead launched its first education conference known as The Conversation.
The inaugural event focused on wellbeing and mental health and was attended by teachers from across the capital.
The conference had been devised and planned over the last six months by staff at UCS and three of its state partnership schools: Westminster Academy, UCL Academy and the London Academy of Excellence, Stratford.
Staff from all four schools delivered seminars, workshops and talks on aspects of pastoral care and teachers appreciated the opportunity to share practice across the schools and, indeed, the state and independent sectors.
The conference was masterminded by one of UCS’s Directors of Teaching and Learning, Sophie Bennett, who commented: "There is so much to be gained by sharing expertise across our schools.
"I was delighted that the schools involved were able to work so closely to put on such an enriching programme of staff development.
She continued: "Every school is different but as teachers one thing truly unites us: nothing is more important than the wellbeing of our pupils.
"Today was an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our work and learn from each other."
The festival was free to attend and whilst Covid restrictions meant everything was carried out online, this did not detract from the experience.
A highlight for some was hearing from renowned speaker Hayley Mulenda whose address was followed by a talk from local MP and Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, Tulip Siddiq.
Talks delivered by teachers from UCS, LAE, UCL Academy and Westminster Academy were equally impressive.
Mark Beard, Headmaster at UCS, was delighted with the success of the conference: "It’s been a remarkable school year and this was a fantastic opportunity for teachers across the independent and state sectors to share expertise regarding mental health and wellbeing in education.
"The programme was broad and the talks were fascinating.
"I would like to thank Westminster Academy, UCL Academy and LAE, Stratford for their involvement.
"The key to successful partnership work is designing activities which mutually benefit all the schools involved and this certainly did!"