2023 was the first year the IH AMT Conference took place in person since 2020. It returned with a bang and the positive atmosphere reflected the delegates’ joy to be reunited with colleagues they hadn’t seen in 3 years.
It was a year of novelty with our new venue, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists which we chose after the previous venue, Devonport House in Greenwich closed after the pandemic. After so many years in Greenwich, some people were initially disorientated by our move to London Bridge. But we all agreed that the new venue was not only beautiful but a great space for all the sessions and socializing. We had many new faces among the delegates this year. With the changes that the pandemic brought, it was fantastic to welcome those who had joined the network but not had the opportunity to attend an in-person conference. Finally, we also had our new Managing Director, Emma Hoyle, attending her first AMT, it was great for her to meet so many members of the network.
With the IH network celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2023, we had the opportunity to celebrate with the IH Academic Managers and Teacher Trainers. We recorded a series of videos asking people what the network means to them. The words family, support, opportunities and growth came up again and again and were the perfect reminder of the value of being part of an IH school.
We had some fantastic sessions over the three days covering the themes of equality, diversity and inclusion, with a presentation from Hannah Youell and Giovanni Licata on IH World’s EDI initiative and further sessions on the risk of using labels in education, the role of women’s health in our schools and how to navigate YLs’ emotions and challenging discussions. Other themes were exploring challenges in teacher training such as how to respect and challenge the beliefs of teachers in feedback, how to phrase our questions in order to get a more developed response when supporting and challenging teachers and students and the importance of research in assessing teaching quality.
The conference kicked off with the ‘Star Power’ simulation led by Lindsay Clandfield. The simulation aims to give participants a better understanding of their own power in the workplace. We then had a range of plenary sessions which explored different topics. These sessions were not only engaging but also touched on current pressing issues that IH Academic Managers and Teacher Trainers are facing. Sarah Ultsch from Oxford University Press was a highlight for many with her presentation on global trends in education and how IH schools can assess these trends in order to plan for the future and be leaders in innovation. We had a great session with Adrian Underhill along a similar line ‘Learning from a future that has not yet happened’ where he encouraged everyone to think outside the box in order to formulate a strategy in the face of disruption.
Lucie Cotterill, our third plenary speaker gave a highly interactive session exploring what are the best questions to model curiosity and promote development in teachers. Our next plenary, Dr Jason Anderson explored how teacher expertise research can give a much-needed measuring factor in assessing good teaching and help us avoid drawing upon assumptions. In the afternoon, we had an opportunity to get creative as our final plenary speaker, Emily Bryson, led a workshop exploring innovative, engaging and collaborative ways to engage teams or trainees.
A special thank you to all the IH DoSes who spoke at the conference, there were so many interesting presentations on Friday that it was hard to choose which session to sit in on. As always, the DoSes brought plenty of enthusiasm, progressive ideas, a hunger to learn from colleagues and the willingness to share, explore and discuss ideas with those around them.
Social events were another highlight with everyone embarking on a treasure hunt around London Bridge on Thursday followed by drinks in Omeara in Flat Iron Square. Social events were another highlight with everyone embarking on a treasure hunt around London Bridge on Thursday. On Saturday, we gathered at the historic Golden Hinde boat for drinks and dinner. Some of the group enjoyed an impromptu history lesson from the owner of the boat while others rocked the boat with raucous dancing until closing time.
A big thank you to guard.me, our longstanding partner who continues to support the IH network by helping us with our conferences. Thank you to all our sponsors for continuing to support IH World and allowing us to put on these important events. We were delighted to have Jo, Doug, Alison and Luke with us representing our gold sponsors Macmillan Education, LanguageCert and Trinity College London. We were lucky to have the support of our bronze sponsors Cambridge University Press & Assessment, Oxford University Press and Sensations English. Adam Scott from Sensations gave an inspiring session leading us to consider how inclusive learning resources, spaces, and teacher support combine to value learners’ lives and voices and reflect the diversity beyond and often within classrooms, with examples from Sensations English.
A big thank you to all the IHWO team who worked so hard to make the conference run smoothly. A special mention must go to Marta who has been working tirelessly to make the event a success. Another person to commend is Shaun Wilden who went above and beyond to get a great list of speakers and put on an unforgettable conference. Finally, we must give a shout-out to Giovanni Licata from IH Rome who gave three presentations over the three days. He certainly knows how to work the audience and we’re very grateful for his dedication to participation.
After a very busy and exciting few days, we now look forwards to a year of celebrations for the 70th anniversary. Keep an eye out on our social media for more details. Our next conference will be for the Directors from 8th-10th of May. We look forward to seeing more of you there.