Geoff Barton’s Vision for ASCL
About Geoff…

Geoff studied English and Linguistics at the University of Lancaster, then trained to teach at Leicester University. From 2002 to 2017 he was headteacher of King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, a comprehensive school of 1650 students.

He is a Founding Fellow of the English Association and writes for a range of newspapers and journals. He has worked with various organisations, including the Department for Education, on leadership and literacy.

Geoff was a longstanding member of ASCL Council, former chair of its Pedagogy Committee, is Patron of the English and Media Centre, and a ‘Leading Thinker’ for the National Education Trust. He became General Secretary of ASCL in April 2017.

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8am – open for exhibition and refreshments

9am – first content starts

6pm – last content finishes

6 – 9pm – Edmunds Restaurant open for light refreshments and networking for all

[Food: from 10.30am to to 3.30pm]


What’s the main difference?

In keeping with most festivals of this kind, we cannot fully guarantee access to sessions . With the scale and eclectic nature of the content, is not possible to check every attendee into every session without creating queues, errors, forgotten tickets, conflicts and ultimately – late starts.

Also, the majority of our delegates are from groups within teaching organisations and need a degree of flexibility to make changes to who might attend leading up to the event (illness, cover etc.)

This is the nature of a festival approach over a conference.

‘A Professional Trust Approach to Session Attendance’

We embrace the ideal that delegates will take a professional and trusting approach to attending sessions, and give way to those who have indicated their attendance prior to the event to avoid delays, conflicts and awkward situations between delegates and room managers. We aim to stagger timings of sessions, so if you cannot enter something, there’s likely to be something else starting soon.

We kindly ask you not to attend a session you haven’t indicated an preference for  in advance, although it’s fine to hover around until near the start of the session to see if there are any spaces, after those who have signed up have entered

We kindly ask you to attend sessions you have indicated a preference for, or pop along to the room to let the room manager know you won’t be attending. This way it is much easier for the room manager to manage expectations of speakers and delegates, and avoid awkward situations

Some speakers are fine with standing room. This is indicated when you arrive at the session. (Delegates with disabilities will be supported in finding a suitable space)

The college has a lot of ‘smallish’ rooms – holding between 20 and 40 people, with a small number of larger keynote spaces. The keynote spaces will largely be used for panels – and where we have had very high numbers of signups. (This means, for example, that you may be attending a high-level speaker but in a relatively small space!)

There are a very small number of sessions that are ‘closed’ for a particular group of delegates, or where we have reserved a small number of spaces. This is purely down to some very individualised variables.

Procedure for Expressing Session Preference

A web-link for delegates to indicate session preferences will be sent out to the person who booked the original tickets around three weeks before the festival. This person who booked should then make arrangements to send the link to you to sign up and express preferences.  We will also put the link on the website for you.

It isn’t possible to send the session preference link out earlier due to a huge number of variables in securing speaker information and other logistical variables.

We advise you to look at what you’d like to attend before you receive the link, as spaces will fill up fast. Where a session hits capacity, you will need to wait to see if there are spaces on the day, as we cannot guarantee extra and repeat sessions

Individual sign up will also qualify you for a free lunch, which will otherwise cost £5 (paid on the day at the info point with cash only)

Dress Code and General Movement Around the Festival

We hope you will feel happy and relaxed. There is no formal dress code and you are encouraged to come in what you feel comfortable in

You can move around the festival freely during sessions you’re not attending and there are plenty of great exhibitions to keep you busy

We ask you to keep to one-way systems where indicated. (These may be tightened or relaxed at different times to help the flow of people)

Free tea, coffee and water will be available throughout the day from outlets and vending machines, but speciality coffee may not be available or

There will be a bar where you can buy wine or a beer and relax and chat

There is such thing as a Free Lunch – Just don’t miss out!

Our ‘Really Long Lunch Slot’ means that you don’t have to robotically queue for food, although of course, there are likely to be a bit of queuing here and there. We also anticipate that this will stop you from having to miss sessions to get lunch

‘Street Food’ outlets will be outdoors (braving the April showers if need, but no need for wellies!).

One lunch will FREE for people who have signed up using the individual session preference link. For those who haven’t signed up for their session preferences, lunch vouchers can be bought from the info point at reception for £5 (cash only)

There will be a few activities, demos and surprises here and there to help the event feel as it should.. Free-thinking, positive and motivational.

Wristband Entry

You will be given a wristband and sticker rather than a lanyard (we are aiming to avoid the ‘Lanyard Graveyard’ and feedback tells us that more delegates prefer a wristband to a lanyard. The wristband grants you access to sessions.

There Will be Changes

We aim to pin down timings and venues as early as possible.  However, with such a huge range of content and people involved, itis a continually shifting set of variables which means that timings will be fully confirmed around one week before the event. There will be a few small tweaks in the days leading up to the event, but the majority of sessions will be fixed by this time.

We advise you to keep a check on this all the way up to the event day itself, and even on event day where small things can change.

WiFi – Managing Expectations!

Guest WiFi codes will be available on the day. However, we kindly ask you not to upload files using the college internet. Please use your own data for uploading, although you can use the college internet for browsing the web, using social media etc. This is because with up to 1000 people using the system, even a few uploads drawing from the same area can seriously slow down internet speeds.