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28th June 2013 - A visit from Tasmania - diary from the conference

Catch Up Blog

In May this year, Catch Up® in the UK ran a really successful ‘Overcoming disadvantage’ conference in Birmingham, with over 200 delegates. Isobel from Ogilvie High School, Tasmania, showed her dedication to helping struggling learners by interrupting her European holiday to attend the conference. Read Isobel’s Diary of the day…

1st May 2013 - Birmingham, UK

Up at 4.30am to catch a bus (as the tube doesn’t start till 6am) to be on the London to Birmingham train by 6.30. It is still quite cold in the morning and the urban foxes eye you suspiciously as they saunter through the streets. Perhaps not everyone’s ideal start to the day. I was honoured to be invited to the one-day conference in Birmingham – ‘Overcoming disadvantage’, a conference run by Catch Up® in the UK – although it involved the early start.

I arrived in Birmingham by 8am and had breakfast before heading to the conference centre. Everyone made me feel very welcome and I settled in to enjoy a day of learning. It was fascinating to learn about what was happening in the UK in terms of the lower socioeconomic students. In England and Wales, they are referred to as the FSM student – those who receive free school meals – and there is a drive to decrease the gap in achievement of these students through the provision of targeted funding. Schools are therefore required to justify where they will spend the money.

Prof Steve Higgins of Durham University presented ‘The toolkit of strategies’ to improve student outcomes. This is a summary of a meta review of studies on what interventions work in the classroom. The findings are presented in a cost vs. benefit graph, and some of the things that make the most difference to students – while costing the least – are ; feedback, meta-cognition, secondary homework and collaborative learning. More detailed information is found on the Education Endowment Foundation website.

It was a very interesting day and I gained valuable insight into how the education system works in the UK. I would like to thank Catch Up® UK for the opportunity to attend the conference.

Isobel, Ogilvie High School, Tasmania

For those of you not lucky enough to be holidaying in Europe, the downloadable PDFs of the presentations are now available on our website.

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