Towards the end of the Easter holidays I had a chance to visit Kingswood School in Bath, the oldest of the schools in our Methodist Independent Schools Trust.
Each year the annual MIST conference is hosted by a different school in the group; it will be our turn in 2016. Reverend Dr Mark Wakelin, recent President of the Methodist Conference, gave a thoughtful, funny and inspiring opening address which set the tone for the event. He spoke about how we respond to the danger that education is being replaced by certification and that, as teachers, what should burn in our hearts is the wellbeing and happiness of young people. He challenged each person in the room with this scenario: If someone came up to you and asked what they should do to be like you, which bit of you would you recommend? Not the easiest question to answer as we each turned to the person next to us to discuss. If pupils are inspired by teachers then who you are really matters.
The focus of the message was that the value central to Methodist education is love. Being true to our values means acknowledging that this is what drives us. In the professionalisation of teaching we must guard against the risk of losing this.
Another excellent speaker was The Honourable Sir Jonathon Porritt CBE, founder of Forum of the Future and former Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission. He spoke about our responsibility to educate children about sustainability and climate change. His rather stark opening message was that we’ve stolen our kids’ entitlement to a safe and secure future. At some point they will take it back. Despite the many challenges, his view is there is no shortage of technology, no shortage of money, and no shortage of compassion in the world. So, all the ingredients are there for us to solve the moral issue of climate change. For several months now we have been planning our World AIMS programme in the final week of the Summer Term. This year our focus is on sustainability and our pupils and staff will be undertaking a range of challenges that I hope will inspire them to be part of the movement.
On the subject of inspiration, our Fencers returned from the British Youth Championship triumphant once again, with bronze, silver and gold medals aplenty. Well done to them; the quality of fencing at Truro School really is astounding.