#PrimaryRocks Live review: A celebration of first-class teaching


In September 2014, after a discussion about twitter edchats, Gaz Needle and Rob Smith of LiteracyShed.com decided to start a new edchat focusing on primary education, as many of the chats they had participated in were very Secondary-focused. The inaugural #PrimaryRocks chat was held on 29th September and @gazneedle has been hosting it each Monday between 8-9pm UK time. To reflect their feelings about teaching in Primary schools, they named it #PrimaryRocks - because it does!

Website: www.primaryrocks.com/ Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saturday 21st March saw Primary school teachers from across the UK descend upon Medlock Primary School in Manchester for Primary Rocks Live. A huge event planned by a small group of passionate educators, the gathering was the evolution of Twitter chat #PrimaryRocks. Featuring keynote presentations by Hywel Roberts and Stephen Lockyer, #PrimaryRocks Live saw enthusiastic teachers attend a variety of different workshops, taking home a wealth of CPD and resources.

Upon entering the school, IMS editor James Cain was greeted with a handshake and a goodie bag from Medlock’s outstanding pupil ambassadors. These young individuals were spending their Saturday morning welcoming people to their school, displaying true class and professionalism. A testament to both the #PrimaryRocks crowd and the passion of Primary teachers, the hall of Medlock Primary was brimming with friendly teachers looking to meet and collaborate.

“Right away I met up with Claire Bracher, Amy Kingsley and Phil Nottingham - the latter two of whom I was meeting in person for the first time!” said James. “It was also good to see Mark Anderson who, despite it being both his birthday and him being full of cold, was there to present a session on top edtech for the classroom. Nothing stops the man, apparently.”

The opening keynotes set the tone for the rest of the day. Lucy Powell MP, shadow secretary of State for Education, gave a presentation on the importance of Primary schools in the UK, and fielded questions from the audience.

Next up was Hywel Roberts’ presentation Into The Forest, where he recounted how he and his Sheffield pupils visited a deserted house in the middle of a spooky wood without ever leaving the classroom. This session had attendees laughing hard alongside the immersive learning tips.

Before the first workshops began, attendees agonised over whom they’d go to see. There were 32 workshops spread over four sessions, all of them equally enticing. Claire Bracher, Julian Wood, Tim Head, Graham Andre, Carmen Malpas and more all had awesome content to share. Or in the case of Rachel Orr, ORRsome content.

“The atmosphere was great,” wrote Ms Bracher on her staffrm page, “lots of enthusiasm (of course my favourite thing) but the best part for me was the sheer determination to make sure that there was a very loud and clear message ringing from the school hall.... Teaching - no matter what the politicians do; no matter how hard the work load gets; no matter what the changes... is alive and well - and rocking!”

Attendees weren’t only treated to a free lunch, including tokens for an ice cream van parked outside. The midday party was accompanied by a DJ battle between Dr DJ (aka Richard Farrow) and Andre 5000 (aka Graham Andre).

The afternoon saw Mr Farrow host a debate panel featuring Jane Manzone, Jon Brunskill, Sinead Gaffney, Tim Taylor and Rob Smith. During the discussion, the audiences’ Twitter-responses were presented on a giant screen behind the participants. At one point, the debate was stolen by SEN superstar Nancy Gedge, whose impassioned submission led to a realisation of “This is how I tweet!”

Justin Gray wrote in his review: “The panellists thought on their feet well (far better than I could) and genuinely argued the points, with the audience playing a full part.” Rounding up #PrimaryRocks Live was Stephen Lockyer’s keynote Learning in the Cracks, which looked at how class songs, humour and whole-school positivity can lead to exceptional engagement.

Finally, co-organiser Rob Smith brought the day to a close with a heartfelt thanks to all delegates.

Editor James added: “I’d like to thank Rob and all of the #PrimaryRocks Live organisers for having us on the day. It was a truly fantastic event, and we’re already looking forward to the next one. Meeting so many Twitter friends was a delight, and our downtime at The Garrat was hugely enjoyable. Special thanks go to art teacher extraordinaire Sophie Merrill and her incredible school, Medlock Primary. It’s clearly a perfect place for exceptional teaching and learning.”

Primary teachers are encouraged to scour the plethora of tweets, reviews and videos available, many of which can be found via the #PrimaryRocks Twitter feed. Now, if only there was a tweet from the day which perfectly summarised the day’s mix of magnificence and humour...

Visit www.primaryrocks.com for more information.

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