Nick Dennis's Blog

Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.

Category: TLA Conference (page 1 of 3)

Thank You

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore opens #TLAB15

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore opens #TLAB15

I want to thank all the speakers, workshop leaders and delegates for making the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference, Berkhamsted (#TLAB15) a memorable one.

You can find a collection of the tweets from the day here.

Blogs posts on the day:

Sally Thorne:

Drew Thomson:

Jonathan Peel:

Nikki Able:

Emma Kell:

Amy Harvey:

Kevin Carson:

Kamil Trzebiatowski:

Helena Marsh:

Workshop materials:

Dave Stacey:

Tom Boulter:

David Fawcett:

Darren Mead:

Mark Steed:

Candida Gould & Crista Hazell presentation


An excellent team is taking over next year. Alastair Harrison and Laura Knight will be leading things from the Berkhamsted School end. They will be joined by the Astra Teaching Alliance  & Chesham Grammar School in planning future events. I was asked yesterday whether it is hard to ‘let go’. My answer then (and it is the same answer now) is that the conference was never meant to be linked to one person, school or sector and the teachers attending and leading workshops are proof of this.  I know my colleagues at Berkhamsted and beyond will take the day to new heights as the workshop leaders and speakers already do. They are the leaders we have been waiting for.

Professor Barbara Oakley closes #TLAB15

Professor Barbara Oakley closes #TLAB15

One of the most interesting conversations yesterday was around the need for such events in other areas of the country and beyond. It is just an idea at the moment but will now be floating around in ‘diffuse mode’ so feedback/comments are welcome!

One tweet stood out for me yesterday:

Great education and professional development is not the preserve of a particular education sector yet certain social forces and loud voices seem to suggest otherwise. I hope that when the conversation occurs again (as it will), there will be one concrete and successful example people can point to where all involved are seen as educators who care about the ‘work‘.

Share Button

#TLAB15 Welcome

The text below is taken from the #TLAB15 conference booklet. The Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference, Berkhmasted takes place on the 21st March. 

Education is an ever-unfinished conversation yet we seem to forget this fundamental idea as data, inspection judgements, performance reviews and lesson grades crowd our vision. Although important, the supposed finality inherent in these measures often limit our ways of thinking. We don’t see that we are in fact dealing with other humans and their minds as well as reflecting on what we do with ours. This year’s conference, with the theme of ‘All in the Mind’, hopes to put the human element squarely on the agenda. It also seeks to touch upon the latest research from cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience – two exciting contributors to this ever-unfinished conversation.

The theme also pokes fun at the purveyors of limited political vision who suggest that independent and state educators sectors will only work together effectively when money (or the potential prospect of losing it) is on the table. I must thank the workshop leaders for giving up their time freely to share their work because they think it is important. Rebecca Brooks has continued her great work in managing the event and containing her sighs when I discuss conference badges.  I am especially grateful to Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Professor Barbara Oakley for taking the time to talk about their research. As I write this on International Women’s Day, it seems appropriate to point out that very few educational conferences have had two women scientists provide the opening and closing keynote sessions. As we reflect on the professional work we do in schools, we should also consider our professional work outside of the classroom.

The final sense of ‘All in the Mind’ is that this conference hopes to lay down a concrete challenge to all attendees. We have heard from a variety of organisations that one-off CPD is fairly ineffective because there is no chance to develop the learning. This view certainly has merit, yet I believe it ignores the possibility (and probability) of leadership.  John Kotter writes that leadership is not what we usually think it is in terms of position or supposed status:

Leadership is entirely different. It is associated with taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change. Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behaviour. And in an ever-faster-moving world, leadership is increasingly needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. The notion that a few extraordinary people at the top can provide all the leadership needed today is ridiculous, and it’s a recipe for failure.

If you have not guessed it by now, you are the leaders we have been waiting for. By attending the conference, you have partly accepted the challenge of taking the ever-unfinished conversation about education back to your schools, meetings and training sessions. Since 2013, former attendees have told me how they have left the conference inspired to become teachers, senior leaders and better educators for the students they have in front of them on the Monday morning. Some of them are in the audience or leading workshops today. I can think of no better proof that you too can be part of the conversation and also lead it in your respective organisations and classrooms.

I wish you all a very enjoyable and stimulating conference.



Share Button

TLAB – All Sold

TLAB PhotoI am very pleased to announce that the original ticket allocation for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference, Berkhamsted has now been sold!* There will be around 240 educators at the conference on the 21st March to discuss, share and consider ideas on the process of learning and teaching.

As it will be my last event as organiser, I am really looking forward to welcoming you to the conference and hopefully joining the discussions. See you on March 21st!

*We have released 10 more tickets that are on sale until Friday 6th but no more will be sold after that date (unless you would like to be placed on the waiting list). Please go to the booking page for more information.

Share Button

#TLAB15 tickets now on sale!

'Multipliers' workshop at #TLAB14

‘Multipliers’ workshop at #TLAB14

Tickets for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference, Berkhamsted, are now on sale! You can book you place by clicking on this link.

The price remains at £50 as we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to hear two world-class speakers and three excellent teachers for a quarter of the cost you might pay for a day’s inset training with one speaker. Lunch and refreshments are also included and we are able to do this because:

  • The conference is non-profit;
  • Workshop leaders and speakers give their time freely (we do pay for travel expenses and a room for the night in recognition of their effort);
  • We focus on what matters.

As of 10.00am this morning, a quarter of the allocated tickets had been sold. The last two events were fully booked. What is particularly encouraging this year is the fact that schools are bringing five or six colleagues along so there is genuine dialogue about what is heard/experienced.

Last year’s conference iBook is available on the iTunes Store and you can watch some of the video from #TLAB14 here.

You can see what is being said on Twitter about the day here.

We look forward to welcoming you to the conference where we will be announcing exciting plans about its future!

Share Button

#TLAB15 – All in the Mind – Saturday 21st March 2015

CPD panel at #TLAB14

CPD panel at #TLAB14

Seeing the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference, Berkhamsted grow since 2013 has been a joy. Hundreds of teachers have been enthused, challenged and engaged by the day and I am pleased that we have a fantastic group of workshop leaders and keynote speakers for the 2015 on the 21st March. The theme for #TLAB15 is ‘All in the Mind’ and we are very fortunate to secure our two main speakers. Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is a Royal Society University Research Fellow, Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL and has been Leader of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience since 2003. Her group’s research focuses on brain development in human adolescence.

 You can see her TED talk below:

 Our closing speaker is Professor Barbara Oakley. She is a Professor of Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and her research focuses on the complex relationship between neuroscience and social behaviour. Described as “revolutionary” by the Wall Street Journal, she is also a former U.S. Army captain and worked as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers during the Cold War. She is the leader on the Coursera MOOC ‘Learning How To Learn’ and has recently published ‘A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science’.

 You can see her TEDx talk below:

 As usual, there will be a range of subject workshops led by teachers from across a variety of schools and locations. See the draft workshop list below:

The conference, as usual, is non-profit and the price is £50. This includes all refreshments and lunch.

If you would like to attend next March, tickets will be on sale at the end of October from the conference website. Make sure you purchase them as soon as possible – one school is bringing its entire staff!

This will be my last TLAB event. In true ‘Multipliers’ spirit, I will be handing the organisational reins over to three colleagues at Berkhamsted and some new partner schools (announcement to be made at the conference). TLAB was never meant to be exclusive affair and I already know the new team have some very exciting plans for 2016.  Rest assured, the conference will continue to be non-profit and provide a stimulating and collegiate atmosphere as usual.

I do hope you join us on March 21st for what promises to be an inspiring day.

Share Button

CPD 2014-2015


The core principle at Saracens is that we gather talented people together, treat them unbelievably well and in return they try unbelievable hard. That is it.

Edward Griffiths, Chief Executive, Saracens Rugby Club

It is no secret that we have a great set of staff here at the school because we really do try to recruit well. It is not the only measure, but our recent exam results show how hard they work with students and if we would like for that success to continue in exams, on the sports field, on a mountain or on a stage, the professional development programme should help support their growth.

I sent this year’s professional development programme to the staff today.


Much of the programme is being led by colleagues within the school and we have partnered with Dragonfly Training again to supply a few sessions on educational research, literacy and behaviour management. The overall price is very reasonable and it is cheaper than getting high profile speakers to launch ideas at inset days over the course of an academic year.

I want to thank my colleagues for helping to put this programme together. They are the proof that the method for creating cost-effective, varied and engaging CPD lies in utilising the ‘talent’ in front of you.


Share Button

iBook and #TLAB15

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore at #TLAB14

Cognitive Neuroscientist and TED talker Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore at #TLAB14

After sharing the download link to the iBook produced by Berkhamsted students at the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference, Berkhamsted (#TLAB14), I am pleased to announce that it is now available directly from Apple on the iBook Store. The book does include exclusive video and pictures from the day so I thoroughly recommend it!

I also thought that it was worth sharing with you some of the workshop leaders at #TLAB15:


Mike Grenier (Eton College, Harrow)

Dr Steve Wilkinson (Ashlyns School, Berkhamsted)


Neal Atkin

Mumta Sharma (City of London Academy Islington, London)

Mikey Smyth (St Albans School, St Albans)


Elizabeth Carr (Presdales, Hertfordshire)

Neal Watkin (Sawston Village College, Cambridge)

Don Cumming and Dan Lyndon (Holmfirth High, West Yorkshire & Broomfield School, London)


Dawn Cox

Cristina Milos (Rome, Italy)


Staff from Dr Challoner’s Grammar School (Buckinghamshire)

Bruno Reddy (King Solomon Academy, London)


Tom Sherrington (Highbury Grove, London)

Mark Steed (Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire)

Whole School

Ken Brechin (Cramlington Learning Village, Northumberland)

Darren Mead (Cramlington Learning Village, Northumberland)

David Fawcett


Laura Knight (Berkhamsted School, Hertfordshire)

Crista Hazell (Bristol)

Candida Gould (Bristol)


Dan Edwards (Stephen Perse, Cambridge)

Mark Anderson (Sir Bernard Lovell School, Bristol)

Rachel Jones

Zoe Ross (Barefoot Computing)

Caroline Russell


Martin Said (XP School, Doncaster)

More workshops (and the keynote speakers) will be announced at the start of the new academic year but as you can see, we have an eclectic and exciting group of educators leading workshops at the conference. We aim to keep the price at £50 (which includes a fabulous lunch and snacks throughout the day). If you want to register your interest for #TLAB15, go to this page. If you want to find out the purpose/principles of the conference, click here.

I look forward to seeing you in March!


Share Button

#TLAB14 iBook

It has taken a while but the #TLAB14 iBook has now been submitted to the iBook store. Created by our A Level Media students and Apple Distinguished Educator Nick Davies on the day of the conference, it captures the essence of the conference and includes some additional video footage too. You will need an iPad or a Mac with iBooks installed to view.

If you can’t wait for the iBook store version, you can download it from Dropbox: 

A PDF version (with no interactive elements) can also be downloaded from Dropbox:

Many thanks to Nick, the students and Mike Munn for their help.

Share Button

All gone (and extras)

I am very pleased to announce that the original ticket allocation for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference, Berkhamsted has been sold (similar to last year). As a result (because we don’t like turning people away) we have released a few more tickets on sale with the absolute closing date of the 17th March. The date is not arbitrary. We need to finalise the admin for the event and this is the latest we can leave it so if you have not bought a ticket by then…

I look forward to welcoming you and over 200 other educators to the event. See you on the 22nd!

Share Button

Teaching, Learning & Assessment, Berkhamsted 2014

Happy New Year! A brief reminder that the tickets for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference, Berkhamsted are now on sale. The £50 ticket price includes all refreshments (breakfast, coffees/snacks and lunch) and enables you to attend three workshops and two keynote sessions. We have less than 100 tickets left so don’t miss out!

The conference site and booking page can be found here:

Once again, teachers and educators from around the country (and further afield) have decided to give up their time for free to share their expertise. No-one is being paid a fee for this event and this includes the keynote speakers. All the money raised by tickets sales and any sponsorship covers the running of the day. We will provide the video of the sessions and keynotes as a resource to delegates and will be sharing elements of it via YouTube/Twitter. We also have a team of students filming/interviewing people on the day to create the conference iBook with the help of an Apple Distinguished Educator. If you know of any Media/ICT students who may be interested in taking part in this experience, please get in touch.

The principles behind the conference are simple:

  • Workshops will have a clear learning problem driving them;
  • The focus for the workshops will be on classroom practice, learning and teacher development;
  • Workshops will be interactive with workshop leaders taking you through some of the activities/research so you can experience the idea yourself;
  • Workshop leaders will be upfront about the tech/resource costs;
  • Workshop leaders will provide key ‘takeaways’ from the sessions – either in terms of ideas/resources.

Many came away from the day last year and used the word ‘inspirational’ to describe the workshop leaders/speakers. I do hope you can join us for what promises to be a great day of learning!

Share Button
Older posts

© 2018 Nick Dennis's Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑