ELT Conference 2023: an event packed with practical solutions
Developing happy workplaces, collaboration between teams and teacher recruitment were among the issues discussed at English UK's 2023 ELT conference on Friday 27 January.
A sell-out event in London for academic managers was followed by online seminars for teachers.
Here are some of the event highlights:
Ideas to facilitate teacher recruitment and retention
The conference began with a panel session on recruitment, in which members discussed best-practice and shared ideas to facilitate teacher recruitment and retention.
Val Hennessy from IH Bristol suggested advertising teaching positions throughout the year, increasing flexibility, reviewing benefits and asking staff for new ideas. She also recommended that centres in locations with particularly difficult housing markets should provide accommodation for seasonal staff.
Helen Lunney of Celtic English Academy gave examples that have worked well for her centre. Alongside paying teachers well and offering permanent contracts, they have a robust INSET programme, offer to fund teachers through the DELTA and encourage staff to seek external training. They have also created additional roles for teachers during appraisals, to suit their interests and support the school's aims: "The buzz in staff rooms and meetings is so much more positive". Other staff benefits include a large teachers' room, good tech in every classroom, social activities and team-building events.
In a later session, Shirley Norton of The London School of English also focused on the importance of attractive working conditions. While the pandemic itself had fostered a sense of camaraderie among staff, she said, this had been followed by stress and burnout. She shared ideas for improving staff satisfaction including having 1-2-1 welfare conversations as a standard and looking for opportunities to reduce working houses and offer more flexibility.
Improving collaboration between ELT academic and marketing teams
Steve Tulk of English Path made the case for academic and marketing teams working together. Three ways in which academic managers could support business were to meet regularly with marketing colleagues, understand the sales pipeline and be part of the development process.
Managing change in uncertain times
Plenary speaker Afshan Baksh, talking about managing change, said it was about "leading with heart and in an inclusive way. Where we don't have money are we falling back on feelings and how we make people feel happy and valued, and is there a way of bringing that into the organisation."
Teaching ELT in a multimodal context
Jacopo Castaldi of Canterbury Christ Church University explored teaching ELT in a multimodal context where, he said, people using English and communicating using multimodal literacy could have an advantage in the global job market. "It is a more realistic context for language use," he said.
Closing the event, English UK's director of marketing communications Annie Wright said: "It's been a really practical day with so many things to take home for us for our staff and the sector as a whole. I hope we are all feeling more hopeful at the end of it."
Other sessions during the academic management day looked at new product development, using Lego for team building, supporting neurodiversity and British Council inspections.
The teacher-focused days had eight online sessions on subjects including exam preparation, engaging Gen Z, supporting young neurodivergent students and post-teaching practice feedback.
What did attendees say?
Hayley Maxwell from the University of Birmingham, a regular attendee, said the event "was very relevant. I felt it had the finger on the pulse of what mattered. First-timer Jenni Fogg of Summer Boarding Courses said: "It's been really helpful. All the stuff about recruitment is part of my job and it's been more difficult since the pandemic. The advice will be really helpful this summer."
Upcoming English UK events
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