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Report on South East Region Young Members Conference: Brighton 2019

Report on South East Region Young Members Conference Brighton 2019

By Dan Warrington

Last Saturday saw 80 Young NEU Members from across the South East gather in Brighton for the first regional Young Members conference. After a pleasant evening on Friday night socialising in Brighton with other young education workers we convened for a day of talks from a variety of different speakers.

Howard Stevenson (Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Nottingham) argued that the current education system in England is broken and challenged us to reconnect with the reasons we got into the profession and work towards a system that better reflects these values. We were reminded by Colin Harris (TES columnist and former Headteacher) to “handle the job within your life; not the other way round!” and gave a careers worth of tips on how to manage workload effectively. This was followed by a workshop on the structure of the NEU and the role young members can play in shaping union policy. The morning was rounded off with a talk on the progress towards a National Education Campaign by Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and an update on NEU campaigns by Joint President Kim Knappett.

After lunch at the hotel, NEU Executive member Phil Clarke (not our Phil Clarke a different one) and parent campaigner Holly Atkins made a joint presentation on the successful ‘Save Lewes Schools’ anti-academisation campaign, showing how community organising can work hand in hand with organised labour.

The day was rounded off with a workshop on ‘Getting active about equality in education’ by young teacher and Brighton LGBT+ Network Lead, James Hodge. James spoke to us about demystifying LGBT+ terminologies, as well as the types of engaging activities he has spearheaded at his school to help students to empathise with each other’s experiences and struggles. This was to my mind the stand-out session of the day and was easily the best piece of CPD I have undertaken all year!

On the train home, I spoke to other young members and we all agreed that the day had renewed and revitalised our passion for education and many of attendees went away with the intention of standing as a rep in their school. Particularly encouraging were the support staff members in attendance who went home determined take an active role in promoting the union at their school and even apply for teacher training in September.

It was great to see such a successful event organised by young members and facilitated by the union staff in the South East Region. I would highly recommend to any young member interested in progressive education. Make the most of your union fees by keeping your eyes peeled for invites to next year’s event!

 

 

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