By Jacqueline Grima
Manchester Children’s Book Festival hosted the 2017 Teacher Networking Event: Creative Learning Showcase, this week inviting primary and secondary school teachers from all over the North West to explore ways to make their lesson plans creative, fun and engaging.
A whole host of festival friends and partners were at the event to offer attendees ideas and support. Stallholders included the People’s History Museum, HOME, Manchester and Historical England, who were showcasing their Heritage Schools Programme. National Manager Lois Gyves said, “We provide free training and resources to help teachers embed local heritage in the curriculum. It’s important that students know that where they’re from has had a role to play in history.”
Also offering interesting ideas for lesson plans was Neil Taylor from Lego Education, who encourages the use of robotic Lego models in lessons. He said, “We are giving teachers the tools to engage students.”
Other stallholders included the Royal Exchange Theatre, who offer professional development workshops to teachers, and Chester Zoo, who are working with Peoplescape Theatre on the Sing for Songbird campaign. Zoo Community Engagement Manager Hannah Chisholm said, “In some places, like Java, birds are kept in cages as a kind of status symbol. Even people who don’t have much money will have a bird. With our Community Engagement and Education programme, we teach people how to respect birds and we go into schools to show them how they can improve their grounds for wildlife.”
Special guest at the event was Chair of Health, Schools and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee for North Middleton Councillor Sara Rowbotham. Sara worked as Rochdale’s Crisis Intervention Team Co-ordinator between 2003 and 2014 and was responsible for exposing the Rochdale grooming scandal recently featured in the hard-hitting BBC drama Three Girls.
Sara talked about the importance of opening conversations about sexual exploitation within schools as well as the success of the drama in raising awareness of the issue. She said, “You can go on ten courses, you can go on a hundred courses, and still not understand child sexual exploitation in the way it was presented in the drama.”
Talking about the Manchester Children’s Book Festival event, she said, “Whistleblowers are nearly always punished. I was punished. Coming to an event like this is part of my recovery and I’m highly honoured to be here.”
Guests also had the opportunity to attend free Continuing Professional Development (CPD) taster sessions. Sessions on offer included Getting to Grips with Grammar and a workshop hosted by the National Football Museum, who use football to encourage students to approach writing and public speaking with confidence.
Librarian and Careers Co-Ordinator from Lostock College Amanda Childs said of the networking event, “I came last year and I thought it was brilliant. An event like this helps us to make some amazing contacts and really makes teachers think outside the box.”