The lady gets up from her seat and stands by the bar. Then, pint in hand, she begins to address the pub.
"Bold Beginnings," she begins, "when Ofsted published this report...."
She talks for 30 minutes. No-one tells her to sit down. No-one heckles. No-one, actually, bats an eye lid. They just watch, attentively, pitching in with a point or a comment. Sometimes, a discussion is started.
Because this is what they all came here for on a blustery Saturday afternoon. You see, this is BrewEd. This is CPD in the pub. And teachers are going bonkers for it.
A new kind of event
BrewEd was founded by Ed Finch, a teacher at Larkrise Primary School in Oxford, and Daryn Egan-Simon, an ITTE tutor, researcher and writer. They got talking on Twitter about their shared view that something was missing in the education landscape. Grassroots CPD events had bubbled up across the country, but it all looked very traditional: groups of people sat in front of a speaker in a school hall, being lectured to.
Finch and Egan-Smith wanted to attend something that enabled teachers to talk about teaching and learn new things, but in a setting that was a little more relaxed, a little more social, and - compared with some of the events on offer - a little less tied to a particular ideological viewpoint.
Seeing nothing on offer that matched this description, they decided to set something up themselves. They chose a pub. They chose the city of Sheffield. And the set a date for November 2017. BrewEd was born.
“It’s a new way of bringing people together, in a way that feels really authentic and genuine to them," says Finch. “With BrewEd, you don’t just sit in an audience, you’re a part of a day, part of a conversation. It’s about philosophy, it’s about pedagogy, it about ideas that shape practice, not about tips for teaching.”
Since that first event (where the pair met in real life for the first time), BrewEd has grown at a rapid pace. Both Finch and Egan-Simon encourage others to use the concept and adapt it to their own area, and teachers have done so in London, Cornwall, Newcastle – and even Prague.
Today (9 February), marks a real coming of age for the movement: four BrewEd events are happening at once, in Bristol, Preston, Wimbledon and Birmingham.
All sold out, there is clearly a real appetite for the idea of pedagogy over a pint - and it is not a list of star speakers that is bringing them in: you don’t have to be a pedagogy-guru or have been teaching for 20 years to offer your words of wisdom at a BrewEd event - anyone who wants to share something, can.
“We have people with contrasting mindsets in the room, but the common ground is that they are coming together in the spirit of equality, and the spirit of engagement,” says Finch.
‘BrewEd is a way of getting teachers together to have a chat with people from across all sorts of different areas - we get secondary teachers, primary teachers and people from PRUs and people from initial teacher training, and people from all different silos coming together."
Having an impact
The feedback has been excellent.
“I think it really does wonders for their self-esteem and professional identities. It makes them feel like players as opposed to pawns," says Finch.
And he says it has done wonders for him, too.
“After 17 years of teaching, the BrewEd events simply keep me alive and keep me learning,” he says.
So, what’s next for BrewEd?
Well, there is talk of the event becoming a regular fixture in people’s diaries. Finch hopes that it continues to grow in the UK, and that it will progress overseas to Australia and even the US.
But as it grows, Finch is determined to keep the event true to its original objective.
“All we created was having a nice day out with some friends”, he says.