English teachers have recently experienced a strange sensation of being pushed backwards into a world they thought they'd left behind. The need to protect basic principles of effective teaching from being swallowed up in the prejudices of the past has sometimes made it difficult to look to the opportunities of the future.
To counteract that feeling, the National Association for the Teaching of English has organised 12 regional conferences this autumn. The idea is to give teachers from all sorts of schools an opportunity to get together and discuss what they feel to be most important in the development of the language skills which will be necessary and life-enhancing in the future.
The conferences will be on Saturday mornings from 9.30-1.30 and will consist of two main speakers and a workshop or group discussion session. There will be a chance to browse at bookstalls, chat over coffee, pick up a few new ideas and meet members of local NATE branches. The cost is Pounds 30 (Pounds 25 for NATE members) which, since it is a valuable in-service training opportunity, can be claimed through GEST.
The first conference will be in Leeds (September 23) followed by Glasgow (September 30), Birmingham (October 7), Manchester and Winchester (October 14) and Lancaster (October 21). The one at Lancaster will be a full day. In November they will be at Norwich (November 4), Liverpool, Bristol and Newcastle (November 18) and London and Exeter (November 25).
Speakers at the 12 conferences will include Richard Bain, Peter Buckroyd, Berlie Doherty, Graham Frater, Terry Furlong, Gunther Kress, Angel Scott, Margaret Meek Spencer, Mike Torbe, Peter Traves, Alastair West, Margaret Whitely and Ted Wragg.
The conferences should provide an excellent opportunity for English teachers throughout the country to strengthen their network, look ahead and make a statement about the future. Further details are available from the NATE office, 50 Broadfield road, Sheffield S8 OXJ. Tel: 0114 255 5419. Fax: 0114 255 5296.