UNIVERSITY of Cumbria has hosted two regional events that have attracted hundreds of teachers and students teachers with hopes of improving educational opportunities for children. 

The university’s Institute of Education has led two regional conferences focusing upon key issues – Challenging Disadvantage and the development of a bespoke Morecambe Bay curriculum that is inspired by plans for Eden Project North in Morecambe.

Experts from schools, local authorities and unions were among the speakers at the Challenging Disadvantage conference, addressing 175 students who qualify as teachers this summer.

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Speakers included local authority figures from Cumbria and Lancashire; Seb Smith, who has worked as a teacher with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community in Lancashire for almost 20 years; Dayle Harrison, Headteacher of Revoe Learning Academy in Blackpool, and Sarah Duncan and Karen Elger, North West organisers for the NASUWT union.

Included in the speaker's discussions were poverty proofing the curriculum, autism, dyslexia in the classroom, Gypsies, Roma and Travellers and Education and early career teachers; rights and responsibilities.

The potential of a nature and ‘place-based’ curriculum can have upon a child’s life was also explored by geography teachers across Morecambe Bay. 
The University of Cumbria’s Institute of Education works with over 1,500 school partners, 70 per cent of which are in areas of deprivation.

Institute of Education academic Chris Barlow said: "Delegates were given a very reassuring and empowering presentation from the perspective as an Ofsted inspector. They reaffirmed that all things ‘Eden’ and the development of the Morecambe Bay place-based curriculum celebrating meaningful learning through immediate engagement in a child’s own locality, has high learning value for children and is a unique and life changing concept.

News and Star: Chris Barlow, senior lecturer, Institute of Education, University of CumbriaChris Barlow, senior lecturer, Institute of Education, University of Cumbria

"One of the most rewarding aspects of this conference has been the opportunity to celebrate the work of our own University of Cumbria students involved in the Morecambe Bay Curriculum ‘Think Tank’. They have contributed towards the development of pedagogical learning approaching that have fed directly into the place-based sequences of learning that were launched at the conference," he said. 

Developing future curriculum learning plans, the ‘Think Tank’ meets regularly to explore themes associated with aspects of the Morecambe Bay area including environmental quality, local history, transport, wildlife, settlement, how the bay was formed, and comparisons with other bays around the world.

Ruth Harrison-Palmer, Director, Institute of Education, University of Cumbria, said: "Challenging Disadvantage and our Morecambe Bay Curriculum geography leaders conferences are innovative illustrations of the practical and learning experiences we offer for our student teachers.

"Collaborating with regional and sector partners, we recognise the importance of such experiences as we help our student teachers develop the work-ready skills and knowledge required for professional practice. Together we support our future teachers as they prepare to go forward in making a positive impact on the education and social outcomes of all learners, and in turn enabling our communities to thrive."

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