Festival of Learning 2022

On Monday 3rd October, over 1,200 members of staff from across Archway Learning Trust came together at Derby Arena for our Festival of Learning. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Courageously Inclusive‘.

Inclusion has long been at the heart of what it means to be a member of our Trust. Our three values of excellence, collaboration and inclusion are fundamental to the work that we undertake with our young people and the relationships we strive to achieve within our staff team. All staff are valued here at the Trust and we believe that no part of our organisation can flourish without the support and commitment of everyone. Inclusion therefore is more than just something that we embrace for our children but rather it is something we want to ensure runs deep in our staff relationships. Collaboration is greater than simply joint planning, it is a genuine desire to learn to grow together and become better as a whole than we are as individual parts.

Why courageous then? Surely inclusion is just that. It takes enormous courage to be inclusive. It means making the right decisions even when we face criticism and unpopularity. It means speaking out when others keep silent, it means championing the needs of children and continually putting them front and centre in our thinking, our planning and our discussions. Courage often means failure and trying over and over again. Courage is not easy or simple.

We believe that we owe it to our students and young people to show courage. As Brene Brown puts it in her wonderful book Dare to Lead, ‘We must be guardians of space that allows students to breathe…and be who they are without suffocation…It can and often does change the trajectory of their life’.

A visual recording of the Festival of Learning

An astonishingly beautiful backdrop designed and created by our students

In the Summer term of the last academic year, we welcomed Donna Fox as our artist-in-residence to help produce colourful silk banners to represent each academy in our Trust. As part of the design consultation process, Donna asked students what three words came to mind when they thought about their academy which were then incorporated into the whole design.

Over the summer holiday, 20 students attended a workshop with Donna to create the banners, learning about the batik hot-waxing technique, silk painting, dye mixing, steaming, and fixing treatments.

Thank you to Donna Fox for her incredible talent and ability to listen, nurture and incorporate the creative design thinking of Archway Learning Trust students.

Keynote speaker: Jay Blades MBE

Jay is the face of BBC One’s The Repair Shop, Money for Nothing and Jay and Dom’s Home Fix. Though a recognisable face across much of the country today, Jay grew up a struggling young man in the 1980s East End London. His dyslexia proved severely challenging throughout his education, in addition to bullying and police brutality. He eventually became an upholsterer, fixing furniture and other complex household objects, and so cultivating what would later secure him the role of welcoming people into the BBC’s repair workshop.

The focus at the Festival of Learning was reading and we’ve made it our number one educational priority that ‘every child in an Archway school will become a fluent reader’. Our Director of Education, Dave Taylor, admitted that he booked Jay to talk at our Festival of Learning the day after he watched his documentary on BBC One ‘Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51‘.

Jay joined us on stage at the Derby Arena for a conversation with Dave. We heard Jay’s thoughts on The Repair Shop and whether he ever gets too emotional when filming, the sense of camaraderie and friendship between the experts on the show, the importance of apprenticeships and training up new generations in specialist crafts and professions, what growing up was like, being assessed for dyslexia at the age of 31, being put in the ‘L’ class in secondary school, mental health, and positivity.

Colleagues got involved using #ALTFESTASKJAY.

Keynote speaker: Stephen Morales

Stephen Morales is a Chief Executive of The Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL). Stephen has a 20-year career history in operations and finance, working at a senior level in the public and private sectors, both in the UK and abroad. Stephen works closely with the Department for Education in areas of policy reform.

Stephen spoke to us about the key ingredients for a high-performing trust: culture, people, and structure; valuing everyone’s role; and developing a culture of continuous improvement.

Keynote speaker: Nic Hamilton

Nicolas Hamilton was told as a child that he would never walk due to his cerebral palsy and would spend his life reliant on a wheelchair. Not one to be told he cannot do things, with determination and grueling training he not only walked unaided, but he started to realise his dream: to be a racing driver. Now a regular in the British Touring Car Championship, the pinnacle of British motorsport, his message is ‘anything is possible’.

Many responses on our feedback survey mentioned the impact of Nic’s speech:

“Nic Hamilton’s keynote speech was outstanding – truly hit home on the impact that educators can have on young

“I thought the whole programme was steeped in knowledge, care and inspiration. This was the best inset I have been to in a 22-year teaching/pastoral career. I adore guest speakers. Jay Blades was real, and I took some positive points from him. Nic Hamilton was something else. A fantastic speaker and inspiration. I have also taken some key points
from him to use in my everyday work life. I loved the children’s contribution, the banners, graphic artist and the whole day!”

Colleagues asked Nic a range of questions using #ALTFESTASKNIC including “What do people do which they think is helpful to you as a person with a different ability, but is actually the opposite, and is unhelpful?” and “Is there anything you wished your teachers would’ve known in order to better support you at school?”.

Keynote speaker: Hannah Wilson

Hannah Wilson is a leadership development consultant, coach and trainer. She is a DfE coach for the Women Leading in Education initiative and an advocate for flexible working (the focus for her MA in Education). Hannah is the Co-Founder of #WomenEd and #DiverseEd. She is the Director of Diverse Educators. Hannah specialises in: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Professional Learning; Early Career Teachers; Mentoring and Coaching; Mental Health and Wellbeing; and Values and Ethics.

Hannah spoke to us about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), creating a culture for belonging, how we can be more intentionally inclusive, and the difference between equality and equity.

‘This is Me’ spoken word by Thandi

Thandi, student at Bluecoat Beechdale Academy, performed her poem ‘This is Me’. It was an exceptional piece of writing and oration.

Cycling in the velodrome

All staff were offered the opportunity to put on their lycra and whizz around Derby Arena’s new state of the art velodrome.

Sarah Hebb & Niall O’Kane on DEI within Archway Learning Trust

Our very own Sarah, Assistant Principal at Bluecoat Trent Academy, and Niall, Bluecoat Sixth Form Year Leader, spoke to us about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Sarah and Niall showed us the current context of students attending Archway Learning Trust academies compared to national averages. We celebrated the fantastic things we’re already doing at Archway to support DEI and how we can go ‘beyond the 5 Fs: food, fashion, festivals, famous people and flags’; bringing this into action will include a DEI Working Pary, DEI Leads, PDR Objectives, personal pledges, and student views and leadership.

The Science of Reading

Our Trust Literacy Leads, Abi McGowan and Claire Tiernan outlined our reading approaches across the Trust.

Thank you!

Thank you to all staff for their contributions, enthusiasm and commitment! A special thanks to Dave Taylor for organising the event and Martha Toogood for coordinating the art and music.

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