Interview with theme convenors of one of six 2023 UKFIET conference themes, ‘Education systems including workforce and curricula’: Claire Hedges, Senior Programmes Manager, International Development Office of The Open University, and Purna Shrestha, Global Technical Lead for Resilient and Inclusive Education Practice Area at VSO International.

What excites you about your theme?

Last September the Transforming Education Summit (TES) in New York resulted in concrete calls to action, initiatives, and partnerships to translate the vision of transforming education into action on the ground. The summit strongly recognised the roles that teachers play in delivering curricula; in particular, developing learners’ skills and knowledge to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis and ensure climate justice. Also, the case for more and more equitable investment in early-warning systems and resilient infrastructure to ensure safety, security, and education continuity was robustly made. 

We are excited that our theme builds on the global debate on the role of the education workforce and recognition that teachers must be supported and empowered to become agents of change, facilitators and guides for understanding complex realities. We are pleased that our theme sets this in the context of the wider education systems and, in particular, how the engagement of families and communities can be ensured and nurtured.

Increasingly, governments are making commitments towards social and environmental justice. We have noted that education curricula are being revised to integrate these issues. We are excited to learn about the nature of these changes and how education systems are planning to prepare the education workforce to embrace these.

How does this link to the overall 2023 conference theme?

If we are seriously committed to reach the most marginalised and vulnerable children and youth, diversity in the education workforce is imperative and the education workforce needs to be well prepared and supported to explore social and environmental justice with their learners. Progressive curricula are needed to enable teachers to do this. Our subtheme – Education Systems including Workforce and Curricula – will directly contribute to the overall debate on the conference theme. 

 What kinds of papers/events would you like to see submitted under your theme?

We will welcome proposals which surface and explore:

  • Creative and alternative approaches to research that deepens our understanding of the education workforce’s lived experiences, including how these are considered in developing education curricula and teacher education reforms
  • How indigenous knowledges and lived experiences of families and communities is being valued and incorporated in new curricula
  • Research evidence generated from the global majority on the drivers for change and resilience within national and local education systems
  • How a more diverse education workforce can be encouraged and then supported to engage with parents and communities to create more just learning environments with particular regard to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups
  • How interdisciplinary discourses – for example, Environmental, Food, Health, Language, Youth – might be brought into the education discourse to break down silos and improve the wellbeing of educators, teachers, and learners.

Find out more about the theme