Five things you need to know from the ASCL conference

Published on: 
21 Mar 2019

Last week we attended the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) annual conference and came away feeling informed, inspired and excited. Here's five things you need to know:  

1. Support for teachers

The Education Secretary, the Rt Hon Damian Hinds announced plans to form an expert group to work with government to look at new ways to support teachers. The group will bring together professional bodies - including unions, headteachers and the mental health charity Mind - to listen to their concerns before making recommendations to the DfE, local authorities and MATs. Find out more here.

2. Apple believe everyone can create 

Dr Jon Landis is part of Apple's International Education team, who explained that we should not be fearful of the ever-changing technological landscape. Children simply learn and absorb information in a different way. Mr Landis explained that yes, Artificial Intelligence is coming, but it can never replace creativity. Arts education has never been so important and reassured us that everyone can teach creativity - check out their Everyone Can Create teacher guides.

3. Mental health and wellbeing 

Health and wellbeing remained high on the agenda. Pat Sowa, a former primary headteacher, gave an emotional and inspiring keynote about the work she has been doing to raise awareness about suicide prevention and improving mental health in education. She told us about her personal journey of tragically losing her 17-year-old son and the inspiring work she’s been doing with Papyrus, the young suicide prevention charity.

4. Work with Ofsted for a year

Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, announced a new secondment programme for middle leaders which will give them the opportunity to work for Ofsted for a year. Ms Spielman also informed us that new Ofsted framework consultation has had over 5000 responses, so make sure you have your say before it closes. Read her full keynote here.

5. Laughing with Lenny

Sir Lenny Henry closed the conference to laughter and rapturous applause. Between his hilarious jokes, a moving soliloquy from Othello, and hearing about his education experiences, Sir Lenny reiterated the vital role arts education plays, leaving us all feeling inspired and motivated after a busy two days. 

We couldn’t think of a better way to end a great conference, reassuring delegates that arts and cultural education is so important, despite the challenges we face. Head over to ASCL’s website for more information, news and reports from the conference

And finally, a huge thank you to the school leaders who visited our stand to talk about how Artsmark can support them to embed arts and culture across the curriculum. And to our Artsmark schools who stopped by to tell us how their Artsmark journey was going, it was a pleasure to meet you!



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Cultural education gives children and young people the opportunity to develop their creativity, both individually and collectively, and that's why our goal is for every child and young person to have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.

Darren Henley
Chief Executive
Arts Council England

It's vital that children have the opportunity to learn and enjoy arts and culture from an early age. It develops their creativity, inspires future careers and enriches their childhood.

Artsmark Award does brilliant work in schools and education to ensure young people access a broad and balanced curriculum that includes high-quality arts and culture.

Michael Ellis MP
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism
Department of Culture, Media and Sport