Inaugural address…

Mar 10, 2012

Miles Berry

… as the new chair of Naace, delivered at the AGM, 10 March 12.

Friends, colleagues, you do me a great honour today: I feel so privileged to step up now to become chair of Naace’s management board. I am humbled when I look through the list of those who’ve served our association as chair: folk such as Steve Bacon, Tony Richardson, Tim Scratcherd, Bill Gibbon, Mike Bostock, Terry Freedman, Gareth Davies and Paul Heinrich. I just hope I’ll find some of the stamina, courage and vision that have been such evident characteristics of these and all my predecessors.

I am hard pressed to think of any in which these characteristics have been more evident than my two immediate predecessors, Mark and Rachel. Mark Chambers sadly, for us at any rate, retires from the Board of Management having made a huge contribution to the success and sustainability of the association. His chairing of board meetings has invariably shown such sensitivity, authority and integrity. I’m relieved that Rachel Ager remains on the board, as I rather think we remain in interesting times, and her experience and wisdom in steering Naace through these are qualities on which I fear I’ll need to draw during my time as chair. Mark, Rachel, Thank you.

These are, as I say, interesting times.

The ecosystem in which Naace exists has changed radically over the last couple of years: the role of too many local authorities in providing  ICT guidance, support and a chance for inter-school collaboration has been too diminished, often to the point of non-existence, and yet new models have quickly evolved to fill this space, with Naace members continuing to act with undisputed expertise and integrity in making the connections between policy and practice and between school and school.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the changes afoot with the ICT curriculum. The freedom to develop rigorous, up to date and creative curricula is one which many here and in schools will relish. But not all will. Is saying ‘ICT remains a national curriculum subject’ or ‘ICT is part of the basic curriculum’ really enough to ensure that every learner, in every academy or school, maintained, free or independent, receives an entitlement to a broad and balanced technological education fit for the third millennium? This, though, is an area where Naace, and its members, do have a significant contribution to make, and I’d urge you to read and comment on Naace’s own curriculum work, managed by Paul and Allison.

Our concern is to advance education, and thus the learner should be rightly be at the centre of all we do, but the technology through which we seek to do this evolves exponentially. Look at the opportunities offered by ubiquitous connectivity bringing access to the world’s knowledge and a global network of teachers and learners. Look at how the technology, and ideas, from the world of gaming are finding their way into the classroom, and beyond. Look at 1:1 devices: be they blackberries, apples or even raspberries and think what schools with vision and expertise could empower their learners to do with this.

Big challenges? Well yes. But also big opportunities.

Taking inspiration from Dr Sue Black on Thursday, which, by the way, seems a long time ago now,  I have my own Three C’s to suggest for plotting our way forward:

Creativity – this matters more now than ever before, but there are so many, many more opportunities for this than ever before. We really don’t need to keep doing the same things the same way. Read Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds, or read it again, if you already have.  Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus is good too, as is David Gauntlett’s Making is Connecting. The means of production and distribution are now in the hands of the people: this includes us and the learners with whom we work.

Collaboration – our networks extend beyond ourselves – Naace has a disposition to working with others: and we continue to do so with national bodies, our sponsoring partners and other 3rd sector organisations. Our own connections, our PLNs (personal learning networks), play a key role here too: we must make the most of these for our own professional development, but also for the development of the profession.

Community – look around the room, look around the conference – aren’t these the best possible people to work with to advance education through technology? We have so much to learn from, and share with one another.  Our project, advancing education through technology, is a noble one. It’s a challenge which seems rather big for one of us, or indeed for a group like your board. But for all of us, working together? Challenging, something which will stretch us, but in our reach. A bit like a good lesson, really.

Interesting times, indeed. But oh, such exciting times too.

Colleagues, friends, thank you.