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Cambridge Seminars

These Cambridge seminars, organized in partnership with Open Society Foundations (OSF), Education International (EI), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), bring together practitioners, researchers and policy-makers committed to enhancing the development of the teaching profession. The seminars are invitation only and are intended to strengthen the discourse on the future of teaching and teachers. 

Each seminar is organised by a planning committee comprising colleagues from the partner organisations. The first seminar was held in 2012. The 4th in the series was held in Cambridge in April 2016.

These events are sponsored by The Open Society Foundations and held at the Møller Centre, Churchill College.

Thinking about Teachers, Teaching & the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2016

2016 Seminar

The purpose of the 2016 seminar was to examine education Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all – from the perspective of teachers and teaching.

The seminar explored:
• The opportunities and challenges presented in the Framework for Action: Education 2030
(Published November 2015) for teacher policy and the teaching profession, particularly in relation to the target for increasing the supply of qualified teachers (Target 4.c) but also in relation to the other nine education targets;
• The role of teachers and teaching in achievement of the education targets in Goal 4, but also in relation to the other Sustainable Development Goals
• The necessary partnerships and priority actions for making early progress towards 10 education targets in the next three years.

The opening panel for this event included Professor Pauline Rose (University of Cambridge Faculty of Education), alongside Montserrat Gomendio (OECD) and Antonia Wulff (EI).

Opening Panel Presentations

Leaving No One Behind, Pauline Rose - REAL Centre, University of Cambridge

SDG 4: Towards inclusive and equitable and lifelong learning for all, Montse Gomendio Deputy Director Education and Skills, OECD

Key Figures, Antonia Wulff, Education International

A podcast brings together these opening presentations together with their closing reflections. Slides from the presentations are available here.

Summary of statements:

All participants were invited to reflect in advance on the key themes of the event. These were collated and shared to support dialogue at the event itself and are made available here with some post event reflections also included.

Feedback from the event described it as ‘engaging…..excellent…impressive… I learned a great deal’ with colleagues also commenting on the ‘diversity of interests, backgrounds and experiences of participants; relevance of the topics discussed; diversity of individual contribution and new ideas for improvement’ and the ‘opportunity for a discussion that I rarely have in my own country’.

One participant, Freda Wolfenden, from the Open University reflected in more detail:

The in-depth attention to teachers in this forum represents in itself a major shift over the last 15 years and provided much to reflect on as we begin a new phase. Three thoughts are perhaps pertinent to teacher learning and professionalism. Firstly the need within systems to find new ways to integrate vertical decision making ( such as formal policy approval), and horizontal local leadership and ownership of change by teachers in and across sites of learning. Secondly, big data - from learning analytics or more traditional large scale tests – has potential to inform system improvements but we need to ensure that its use does not constrain and homogenise the enacted curriculum and pedagogy in schools and teacher training institutions. Contextualisation, through recognising and drawing on diversity and difference, is critical to working towards equity in participation in classrooms and teachers’ agentive role is central to this. Lastly, there was little mention of the possibilities afforded by new technologies to shift the paradigm and strengthen teacher autonomy through enabling new kinds of networks and communities, innovative modalities for learning and new forms of accountability - perhaps an area for future exploration?

The ‘Quality Education for All’ Challenge, 2014

‘Quality Education for All’: is this a pretentious slogan, pious hope or a genuine opportunity to confront the meanings that may be carried within those four words?

This seminar offered an opportunity to explore what this may mean in a policy world where ‘quality’ is too often a rhetorical gloss and ‘for all’ a huge challenge on a global scale. How to address these issues without institutional constraint or political preconception is a demanding proposition. Bringing together four international organisations and participants with many lifetimes of experience in academia and in international policy-making offered a daunting, but rich learning experience to think again; revisit and reframe our collective intelligence; and to create space for the unimagined and channel it into a credible and powerful policy agenda.

With key note contributions from Professor Pauline Rose, University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, former Director of Education For All Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO and Andreas Schleicher, Director of the Directorate for Education and Skills of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The event was structured with time for discussion both in plenary and small groups and everyone was invited to document their conversations and questions with notes posted on the room wall. These were reported on during the event itself to support ongoing reflections and have been collated into seven issues by John MacBeath, who offers his further questions and reflections in response: Working with the wall reflections - John MacBeath (LfL Network) continues the conversation.

Reports and podcasts

Sustaining Teachers' Professional Growth, 2013

The timing of the seminars are not an accident, organised as they are immediately prior to the International Annual Summits on the Teaching Profession. The seminars are intended to strengthen the discourse on the future of teaching and teachers which the Summits focus on at a government and teacher organization level. For this reason the seminar planning group for the 2013 event also included representatives from the Netherlands Ministry which is hosting the 2013 Summit.

The strength of this seminar lies in its bringing together teachers/practitioners,
researchers and policy-makers.

(Participant Feedback)

The value of the seminar is very high. It gave us the chance to develop a shared reflection
on teacher professionalism from various points of view, involving actors acting in different
areas of education systems.

(Participant feedback, 2013)

Reports and podcasts

Future of the Teaching Profession, 2012

The purpose of this first seminar was to explore research and policy in relation to teacher quality and the development of the teaching profession. The paper 'The Future of the Teaching Profession' by John MacBeath formed the focus for his keynote address.

The seminar was timed to ensure reports and outcomes would inform the 2012 International Summit in New York and the OECD's 2013 Teaching and Learning International Study.

Reports and podcasts

LfL - the Cambridge Network