Annual Conference 2021 – Q&A with Philippa Vallely, UCL IOE CI Teacher Training Coordinator

We are excited to announce that we are preparing to host the 2021 Annual Conference in person at the IOE this year, subject to Government guidelines. This year the Conference will be a little bit different – it will be a one day event held in the Autumn term on 11th September, instead of the Summer. Today we are doing a Q&A session with Philippa Vallely, our Teacher Training Coordinator. 

Q: Philippa, please can you explain the theme of the conference and what it means to you? 

PV: The theme of the conference this year is “Teaching Resilience” and it has a dual meaning. Firstly, it is meant to reflect the strong resilient nature of our teaching community who have done an amazing job of continuing to deliver quality teaching and learning across the last year, in the face of multiple challenges. Secondly, it also reflects the focus we should have on teaching our learners to be resilient and independent in their learning journey (never more evident than in the last year), to help support them develop their own critical thinking and explore aspects of Chinese language and culture that inspire them individually to carry on learning. 

Q: How have we managed to overcome challenges faced in the last year? 

PV: I think the different spheres in which I work-from our small CI team, to the larger team across IOE and UCL, and the Chinese teaching community across the country- have been outstanding at overcoming challenges. I think we have all had to adapt very rapidly to understanding how to work, teach, train and learn in an online environment and, for the most part this has done very well. My colleagues at the CI and across UCL have all supported each other well, and we have continued providing quality teacher training, materials and support, finding ways to change our delivery to put the least amount of stress on teachers. This has been across our general and specialist teacher training including PGCE, MEP, Mandarin Upskilling, GCSE and other support for teachers, CLEC teacher training, early career support and developing research with subject expert teachers.  

All teacher training (apart from some PGCE) has been delivered online, starting with the reduced online version of the conference last year, enabling teachers to still enjoy interesting pedagogical input from their peers and guest speakers, which we felt was very important for our community. Throughout the last year, I have adapted teacher training from day-long F2F workshops into smaller sessions across multiple days, I’ve worked with organisations such as AQA to ensure that you are receiving up-to-date input around exams, and also provided creative outlets such as the English Jueju competition with the University of Oklahoma, for teachers and students to have something inspiring to do. To support this I also took a free course provided by UCL in “online and blended learning design” which I can highly recommend!  

Q: How do you feel about being able to hold an in-person event this year? 

PV: After such a long time of not seeing anyone from our community, it will be lovely to be able to reconnect again, and to be able to facilitate that for teachers as well. Teachers like to talk to teachers, it’s how we best share ideas and experiences, and to be able to have that again and hear the buzz around the IOE space will be wonderful!  I think we’ve been extremely sensible and cautious about the way in which we’ve moved the date and the delivery model, to enable the event to proceed and to allow enough time for everyone to feel safe and secure as we move into this new phase from June. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to at this years’ conference? 

PV: It goes without saying that I’m always excited to hear the different workshops and plenaries be delivered, as I have such an intimate knowledge of them for such a long time in advance. It’s always great to see workshops- that teachers have spent a lot of time working on- be well-received by their peers. Also, at the risk of repeating my previous answer, I’m most looking forward to seeing teachers and headteachers, and hearing about their experiences and successes over what has been an extraordinary time for schools. 

Pending Government guidance on numbers and guidelines for large gatherings, bookings for this years face to face conference will open on Monday 28th June. Please make a note of this date and make arrangements with your school so that you can book your place before the summer holidays. An online booking page will go live on June 28th and will be accessible via the ‘Events’ pages on the IOE CI website, as well as being announced on the Chinese Teachers’ e-forum.