Introduction to the HMC Autumn Conference 2017
Celebrate the Difference
Welcome to our autumn conference.
Belfast should offer both a useful stimulus and thought-provoking backdrop: acceptance that recognising and living with difference is better than fighting has transformed this place into a city that is an emblem of reconciliation and a degree of tolerance. This conference and its theme should encourage us all to think both about how successful our schools are at welcoming young people’s quirks and creativity, whilst considering how successful we are as a sector in nurturing the talents of those students who are very different from many of us.
We start with Jonathan Powell talking about the Northern Ireland peace process and the capacity within people to find ways of reconciling differences. Then we will hear from a diverse group of men and women in their 20s and 30s who have had to work through particular challenges in their school days – whether because of their race, gender, sexuality, mental health or disability.
Barbara Oakley, Professor of Engineering at Oakland University and author of the world’s biggest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) will talk about her particular journey to her current position and how, as someone who looked least likely to end up as a prominent professor of engineering, she re-made her brain in order to achieve this.
John Lloyd, creator of Spitting Image, Not The Nine O Clock News and QI and producer of Blackadder will talk about the power of inquisitiveness and the need to invigorate our students through the QI principle. We will also hear about schools who have innovated, digital transformation and how internationalism has affected our schools. Along with an AGM which will have the need for diversity central to its discussion, there should be plenty.
As no doubt we have all been saying at our schools over recent weeks, it is salutary to remember what it has felt like being a new boy or new girl at our first conference. Please exert all your natural warmth and hospitality in welcoming new members to HMC.
Ulster's culinary gifts and famous hospitality will be prominent: don't miss out on Wednesday night's dinner - the magnificent City Hall setting will be matched by the sumptuous victuals that Andrew Walker (Executive Chef of Chartwell Independent) and Simon Dougan (the internationally renowned Irish chef) are providing.
Finally, my thanks to the home team at Market Harborough for all they have done to make this conference happen.