An account of the BELMAS Conference (8th – 10th July 2016) by SELMAS convenor, Margaret Alcorn
For several years SELMAS has maintained a relationship with our sister organization BELMAS. This year, as in past years the BELMAS Committee invited a member of SELMAS to attend the annual Conference. After discussion at our committee it was agreed that I should attend on behalf of our organization
The conference was very different in scale, audience and atmosphere to our own annual event. A total of 180+ delegates, almost exclusively drawn from academic circles, gathered for two intense days with 3 keynotes and a total of around 50 different sessions to choose from. The mood was very positive as many delegates connected with familiar faces, or indeed with those previously known only through social media. A significant proportion of the attendees (around 25%) were from overseas. This offered lots of new insights and different perceptions to emerge in discussions.
Day one started with a description of the work of the “RIGS”, the research interest groups which offer Belmas members an opportunity to share research, inquiry and knowledge in particular areas. Also on day one, two sessions were offered and I attended a roundtable discussion on “Unlocking leadership and management potential through a joint secondary/HEI partnership”. My second choice was “A key to inspired post-graduate leadership learning in regional Australia”
Day 2 started with Professor Stephan Huber of the Institute for the Management and Economics of Education at the University of Teacher Education in Zug, Switzerland who spoke about, “School Leadership Practices and Health”. The second keynote of the day was from Philip Hallinger, an internationally recognised Asia based scholar, who addressed the issue of “Accelerating the Development of a Global Knowledge Base in Educational Leadership and Management”. A further 3 sessions left us ready for the Banquet Dinner that evening.
The keynote on Day 3 was much more familiar to SELMAS people. Our very own Sheila Laing from East Lothian talked about “School Justice Leadership in Different Scottish School Contexts”. She took as her theme the Lao Tze quote, “Go to the people, live with them, start with what they have, build with them, and when the deed is done, the mission accomplished, they will say, “We have done it for ourselves”.
So – a very busy and intense learning experience, offering me lots of new learning. The atmosphere was friendly and informal, however although there were a few sessions which described joint HEI/practitioner projects, the focus was overwhelmingly on academic research. Lots more information about the conference can be found here.