Last Monday, Shirley and I hopped on the Circle line to The Barbican Centre where The Tutors’ Association was holding their second annual conference.
Last year we had travelled to Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. and although not as visually stunning as Stowe, The Barbican was a cool and inspirational venue for all of us to gather (and for us Londonites, a whole lot easier to get to!).
The conference offered us the opportunity to listen to keynote speakers as well as attend breakout sessions. In the comfort of the Frobisher Auditorium (which had a lighting system to rival any nightclub) we listened to Mary Curnock Cook OBE stress the importance of the tutoring world getting involved in social partnerships to counteract our image of only supporting students who can afford our services; Tom Maher speak about the freedom of choice in education; Mursal Hedayat introduce us to her social enterprise ‘Chatterbox’ where refugees deliver online and in person language tuition; and Natasha Tiwari close the day talking about failure and how you can use the feelings it engenders to fight for success. It gave us excellent food for thought!
The break-out sessions were smaller, cosier affairs where I heard Olivia Raw, a counsellor and psychotherapist, talk about Generation Z (I was astounded to learn that the average teenager spends 9 hours a day online – that’s a full time job!); John Nichols, a Teach First graduate and tutor, talk about neuroscience and how understanding how the brain works can make us better tutors; and Andrew Harland, the CEO of the Examination Officers’ Association, outline how they are working towards making the exam system more accessible and inclusive (for someone who has struggled for years trying to register external candidates for exams, this was an eye-opening presentation!).
I apologise if I have presented you with a check-list of speakers, but I want to highlight the huge variation of topics we were presented with that day; there really was something for everyone. And of course, in between the talks we had a chance to chat to friends and tutors, old and new, and to eat some lovely lunch presented in little china bowls as we stood in the foyer.
Adam Muckle, the TTA president, confided to me that he spends 3 to 4 hours a day working for the Association – a huge number of hours for a position that is unpaid. The tutoring industry is still often viewed with suspicion but Adam and The Tutors’ Association continue to work tirelessly to bring respectability and validity to our profession. A huge thank you to everyone who was involved in organising the day.