Choosing Knowledge 2019: Just Teach; the fourth annual education conference organised by East London Science School took place on Friday 29 March at The Building Centre in Fitzrovia WC1E. The conference is an opportunity for ELSS staff and interested members of the public to get together, away from the day to day organisation of the school, and think about the big questions currently being discussed in education policy and theory.

This year’s theme ‘Just Teach’, was a chance to assess and contemplate the barriers to being able to just teach. The day began with Claire Fox, ex-English teacher, Director of the Academy of Ideas and author of ‘I Find That Offensive’ in conversation with ELSS Principal David Perks. They explored the popular notion of Generation Snowflake and what schools can do make pupils more resilient. ELSS governor and Primary School teacher Dr Alka Seghal-Cuthbert gave a short lecture on the ‘Decolonise the Curriculum’ movement and the discussion focused on modern conceptions of racism and how to tackle it on campus. Dr Ken McClaughlin, a lecturer in social work from Manchester Metropolitan University gave an overview of the rise of therapeutic education and the implications for those pupils with issues that require specialist help.

After lunch ELSS governor and ex-lead tutor of PGCE for MFLat the Institute of Education, Dr Shirley Lawes, gave her thoughts on the current crisis in language teaching in UK schools. This was followed by an Illustrated History of Liberal Education by Harley Richardson, Director of Design and Research at Discovery Education. The penultimate session was a book launch of the second ELSS publication, ‘ELSS Pupil Writing’. Five current year 11 pupils read extracts from their chapters in the book and answered questions about their research and developments in their thinking and reflections on the process of writing. The day was rounded off with a panel discussion of ELSS teachers discussing the what is means to be a teacher at a knowledge-led school, what we are currently doing well and where we need to improve.

The date of the fifth Choosing Knowledge conference, in 2020, will be announced shortly.