Last week Future Foundations (FF) attended the very sunny ‘Sunday Times Festival of Education

This is a unique two day event that, in the words of the organisers “brings together the very best of education’s most forward thinking advocates, practitioners of change and policy makers”. Featuring a diverse range of speakers from the worlds of politics, music, comedy, literature, journalism, education and the third sector this is one of the most exciting events in the Educational calendar.

Held in the grounds of Wellington College this two day festival is a firm FF favourite, having featured our very own CEO Jon Harper as a guest speaker in recent years. It’s a great opportunity for us to be inspired by leading thinkers, meet extraordinary young people and educators, attend workshops and gain in-sight into the newest educational research.

This years’ festival was opened with a key note speech given by Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan, in which she reemphasized the Department for Educations’ commitment to developing Character Education in schools. She made a strong case for “building a strong character and a sense of moral purpose” being “the responsibility we have towards our children, our society and our nation”.

Clearly, with another 5 years in Government we will be hearing and seeing much more about Character Education, which will hopefully be coupled with increased support for and awareness of organisations like Future Foundations that deliver impactful programmes developing Character traits in young people.

Festival of Education Key Note Speech

Character Education was a running theme that permeated the Festival programme. Eminent professor of psychology Dr Angela Lee Duckworth presented compelling research on grit, and Psycholinguistic consultant Gillian Bridge spoke on the nature of resilience in young people and how this trait can, and should be nurtured.

The  University of Birmingham’s Jubliee Centre for Character and Virtues was prominently pitched next to the main marquee, advising educators of their research in the field and making available teaching resource materials to take back into schools.

It was fantastic to see the growing body of intellectual thinking and evidenced research behind Character Education and the number of educators clamouring to learn more about how they can use this in their own schools.

Other highlights from the day included students scuba diving in a pop up swimming pool in the quad and spotting Dame Stella Rimington, the first Female Director General of M15 doing a sterling job answering the questions of (very) junior reporters in the First News tent. She responded neatly to questions about ‘the best James Bond gadgets’ she had used whilst simultaneously managing educating young journalists about the ‘glass ceiling’!

We were also really pleased to see NCS in attendance and an inspiring talk by NCS graduate Jamie Trusler about his social action journey, encouraging more people to advocate for service learning.

In all it was a long, hot and thoroughly stimulating day, which we would encourage you all to attend in the future.

Regardless of age and whether or not you work in the teaching profession, the quality of education and understanding the issues young people face has an implicit effect on us all and it’s important to be part of the debate.

We hope to see you there next year!