Cringleford VA Primary School pupils led the opening collective worship, inspiring leaders and reminding them that they have been rocks during the covid pandemic. Every leader was given a specially decorated pebble to take home. The ‘Blessing’ song was inspirational and gave everybody time to reflect and think about how God has moulded them and is there during the positive and difficult times in life.
The conference had a range of outstanding speakers facilitating discussion, reflection and calls to action!
Mark Russell from the Children’s Society talked about the growing challenges facing our young people in 2022, outlining learning from The Good Childhood Report which seeks to detail how young people feel about different aspects of their lives.
The 2021 report outlined that school, friendships and appearance continue to cause young people to feel unhappy. It was an extremely thought-provoking message and provided different calls to action including how leaders need to petition the Government to create a strategy specific for children and young people.
Simon Bailey (National Safeguarding Practice Review Panel Member) reminded the leaders of the urgency of having robust safeguarding procedures and practices in place for protecting children. He outlined how safeguarding has changed over the past 30 years, including the risks of harm pupils now face from county lines, online abuse and peer on peer abuse. His talk also outlined the importance of continuing to lobby for joined-up safeguarding systems and how the right organisational culture is vital.
Alex Griffiths (Executive HT Brooke VC and Hempnall Community Primary Schools) lead delegates through ways in which he and his senior leader (Tori Weal) have engaged the whole community in developing The Brooke Compassion Project. At the centre of this was listening to the voices of the children.
After lunch and time of networking, delegates listened to presentations from Allana Gay (BAMEed) on the importance of being free to be me, with Rachael Greenhalgh (Executive Headteacher at Gayton and Middleton Primary Schools) speaking on the importance of being active with our pupils and the impact that this makes. The day closed with Lorna Fitzjohn (Ofsted HMI) detailing the latest developments in the inspection framework and the importance of keeping children at the centre of curriculum design.
It was certainly a day full of deep thinking and can be summed up with Cringleford VA Primary School’s opening reflection:
On our journey of life
May God go ahead to lead the way
May God be behind to spur us on and
May God stay alongside to be our friend
In echoing the words in Mark 10.13-16, this conference has inspired all to enable the voice of the child to be heard. Please continue to pray for our young people, schools and children’s workers across the Diocese.