Choosing Speakers for Northern Rocks…

This is a very short information post about speakers and Northern Rocks because Emma and I are already getting lots of queries about this.

When we started, bearing in mind, NR was born out of two glasses of wine and a “What do you think of this idea?” tweet, the speakers came to us – we tweeted, they replied. This year, we asked who would like to do it again and then topped up in a very random and ad hoc way by writing to people we knew had big twitter profiles or by bumping into people and saying “ooh you’d be great for Northern Rocks”. There was no design really and we were just very very grateful to people who either put themselves forward or who said yes. But then we were stung by some very valid criticism.

We hadn’t counted up people in terms of gender or BME. And once it was pointed out to us, we saw the imbalance. We had been focused on these questions instead – is there enough to appeal to all phases? Are there a variety of opinions offered? Have areas like EAL/SEN been covered? And we took our eyes off the other stuff. So in the interests of openness, this is our speaker recruitment policy.

We ask people we think other people might really want to hear.

We are aiming for 50% women 50% men next year.

We want better BME representation.

We want more children represented.

We want a range of opinions, phases, ages and experiences.

Our strapline is “Reclaiming Pedagogy” and so while leadership and policy are important, we will always prioritise classroom practice and hope to strengthen this further.

We are asking people to give up time for a pitiful offering of expenses that in many cases don’t even cover the expenses. So we are dependent on generosity of spirit.

We ask people to come back who have stood by us from the start and loved what we’re trying to do and we try to balance that with recognising we need new blood too. It’s as hard to not ask someone to come back as it is to not ask a new person in the first place.

We had about 30 people who asked to present last year after we were full – we want to give some of those people opportunities for 2016.

We will get it wrong, annoy people and be criticised. We can handle it – but please bear in mind that every decision we make, spontaneous or not, is done with the very best of intentions at heart and we never, ever set out to snub or offend anyone.

I hope that clarifies our position. Put the 11th June in your diaries. We’re going for number 3.

6 thoughts on “Choosing Speakers for Northern Rocks…

  1. Hello & well done on what I have heard was another great day. I’m putting my bid in again to run a workshop or something if you’ll have me but I understand if you can’t. I’m in the older category of course! šŸ™‚

  2. It’s in my diary, Debra – and I do understand how tough it must be to strike the balance/try to meet competing demands. Like Julia, I’m happy to present if you want me to – another mature woman! BUT as it’s usually leadership I focus on and, as you say here, this Conference is really about pedagogy, I absolutely understand if you don’t need me to.

    Still hope to be there!

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