Education experts discuss 'leading learning'

Education leaders and experts from across the world gathered in Johannesburg for the prestigious Cambridge Schools Conference.

It’s the first time the global conference has been held in South Africa, which was chosen this year due to the growing number of schools in Sub-Saharan Africa taking up Cambridge qualifications and programmes.

Focused on ‘leading learning’, the two-day conference at St John’s College was attended by more than 200 delegates from Cambridge schools based in 27 different countries around the world.

During the conference delegates and education experts looked at how successful schools not only develop strong leadership within their principals and senior management teams, but also within their teachers and students.

Through a series of key note speeches, workshops and breakout sessions, delegates explored how good schools and teachers can develop students who are independent learners, equipped and able to get on at university and the workplace, as well as able to achieve high grades. They looked at how the teacher’s role is fundamental to leading innovation in their school as well as improving its professional practice and how students need to be leaders of their own learning and build resilience to adapt and evolve.

The conference offered a packed programme of keynote speeches by leading experts, workshops, breakout sessions, networking opportunities and an exhibition.
Speakers included Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Dr Tristian Stobie Director of Education at Cambridge International Examinations and Professor Guy Claxton, Visiting Professor at Kings College London.

Tristian Stobie, Director of Education, at Cambridge International Examinations, said: “It has been a fantastic event and a unique opportunity to meet and share ideas with educational leaders and teachers from schools across Africa and the rest of the world. The theme of the conference is fundamental to all of our work as educators. Schools exist to maximise student learning and to develop students who are confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged. Everyone in a school needs to be a leader of learning and if this can be achieved academic success will follow. I hope everyone who attended has left feeling inspired and full of new ideas and techniques for building leadership skills within their schools.”

Juan Visser, Regional Director of Sub Saharan Africa, said: “It has been a privilege to host the global Cambridge Schools Conference here in South Africa for the very first time. I’m am extremely pleased to see so many school leaders attend from across Sub Saharan Africa and around the world. It has been a great opportunity for those attending to learn from some inspirational academic leaders and hopefully they can take this learning back to their schools to further enhance the great work they are doing there for their students and colleagues.”

A delegate attending the conference from a Cambridge school in South Africa said:
“The conference was very practical and insightful. It helped us look at how we as teachers can reinvent learning so we can lead children into learning without forcing them to do it, and also giving them the right equipment to enable them to learn. It’s also showed us why it’s important for us to take a step back and change our mindset so we can inspire our children to learn. It has been a very beneficial conference.”

The take up of Cambridge programmes and qualifications in schools in Sub Saharan Africa has steadily increased in recent years – last year it grew by 6%. Today, over 90 schools offer Cambridge programmes and qualifications in South Africa, and almost 1,900 schools in Sub Saharan Africa, including Cambridge O Level and Cambridge International AS & A Level.

The Cambridge Schools Conference in Johannesburg is one of three prestigious Cambridge Schools Conferences set to be held this year – the other two will take place in the UK and Malaysia later in the year.

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