Teachers of the world unite

28th November 1997 at 00:00
Organisers of an international conference on improving schools say that the record numbers due to attend the event in Manchester next year reflects the growing importance of raising achievements worldwide.

So far 37 countries have signed up for the 11th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, compared with 24 at the same event earlier this year in Memphis, Tennessee.

More than 800 academics, policy-makers and teachers from Europe, Asia, Australasia, North and South America and Africa are expected at the four-day conference at the University of Manchester starting on January 4. The event is also open to British teachers.

Dr Paul Clarke, researcher in school improvement at the University of Manchester School of Education, says the explosion of interest in the conference reflects growing awareness of the importance of education in the world economy.

"Modern communications have made comparing education policies in different countries much easier nowadays so that teachers and governments are able to exchange ideas and put them to use much more quickly," he says.

"There's a growing recognition that knowledge is a powerful tool in today's world, which has led to much more thinking about what is working successfully and how we can bring it into our own schools.

"The numbers at the conference are a reflection of the global importance of school improvement."

Key speakers will include Father Swangaliso Mkhatshwa, deputy minister of education in South Africa, represented for the first time.

Other speakers include Professor Andy Hargreaves from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Canada, Dr Marlaine Lockheed from the World Bank in Washington and Adrienne Alton-Lee from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Home-grown academics due to speak include Professor John MacBeath of Strathclyde University and Professor Mel Ainscow from Manchester.

Minister for School Standards Stephen Byers will also address the four-day conference, entitled "Reaching out to all learners".

Delegates will be able to listen to teachers describing the work of their schools and local authorities, and government representatives explaining their policies for improving education. There will also be visits to schools in the area.

Reports on education policy have already been commissioned from more than 20 countries, and the event's organisers are calling for further papers and ideas for discussion.

Mark Whitehead

For details, telephone conference administrator Fiona Wright on 0161 200 4068 or e-mail mewcsfw@fs1.ed.man.ac.uk. Information is also available on the conference Web site at http:\\www.cc. umist. ac.uk\icsei98\icsei98.htm

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