Bristol Teacherfest 2022



Bristol Teacherfest is in its third year and has grown so much over time that it is now able to promote a wide range of events aimed at Bristol-based teachers.  This year has seen a slight change of focus, with many events being hosted by schools within the Bristol Education Partnership (BEP) (  Colleagues have generously offered their time and expertise to share and discuss work that is taking place within their establishments.  Furthermore, weekly sessions are being held at the University of Bristol’s School of Education, enabling important links with research to be highlighted.  There are also a number of superb speakers from beyond Bristol participating over the duration of the three weeks, including Pasi Sahlberg from Finland, who will be talking about how to build excellence and equity post-pandemic.

Whilst Bristol Teacherfest 2022 had no overarching theme, the BEP’s priorities, such as tackling disadvantage, raising aspirations and broadening education, are clearly reflected across the programme and are likely to be addressed in many of the sessions.  Oracy has been a focus for the partnership since its beginnings in 2019 and Peter Hyman, founder of School 21 and Voice 21, has been invited as this year’s opening speaker.  He will explore the importance of educating head, hand and heart, something that is frequently considered in geography, especially with regard to place.  Other key contributors include Bennie Kara, founder of Diverse Educators, who will be focusing on diversity in the curriculum and Professor Rob Coe, speaking on behalf of the Education Endowment Foundation, about what makes great teaching.

Teacherfest 2020 and 2021 took place during the pandemic, hence all events occurred online.  However, as the situation seems a little more settled now, several in situ sessions have been advertised alongside the virtual ones.   One of the BEP’s strengths is that it facilitates  opportunities for teachers from different schools to learn with, and from, each other; this often seems to be more effective when conducted face-to-face.

Whilst waiting for all to join our Zoom meeting today, it was great to hear about teachers’ earlier experiences this week, getting out and about to meet colleagues from other settings and visiting different schools.

As part of Week 2’s programme, Fiona Carnie asked if Adriana Meirelles and myself would take Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 teachers on a virtual adventure to the Amazon, just like their students might in turn do (


The starter lasted around fifteen minutes, in which I used Google Earth Pro to take teachers from Bristol to Manaus in Brazil, posed a few thought-provoking questions along the way and projected a short movie clip so that they were truly immersed into the depths of the tropical rainforest. Next, I provided a snapshot of a typical morning on one of our virtual Amazon adventures, concentrating on geography, but integrating an element of numeracy, literacy and critical thinking too.  I showcased a couple of activities, but allowed teachers to trial several and provided opportunities for them to unmute themselves and engage actively via the chat feed.

We paused for fifteen minutes to give participants a chance to take a screen break, grab some refreshments, ask any pressing questions that they had, pursue any networking opportunities that had arisen, etc.

Afterwards, it was time to hand over to Adriana, so that she could take delegates deep down into the heart of the Amazon, share some of the wonderful images and film footage that we have accumulated both about and from the Kambebas, an indigeneous community we are now in regular contact with, discover more about their culture, beliefs and lifestyle, consider fundamental global issues, such as climate change and sustainability, contemplate any subsequent action that we could take and evoke a spot of creativity (using natural artefacts that delegates had previously collected to produce their own ‘forest souls/spirits’).

Our top creation of the morning!

I concluded the session with a critical thinking activity to emphasise the many similarities and differences between youngsters in the UK and the Kambeba children (double bubble) and a time for reflection, gathering ‘concluding comments’ about the format and content of our virtual Amazon adventures and this particular CPD event.

Some of their thoughts can be viewed below:

Lovely to be able to focus on one idea/place for a whole morning, consider how children would engage across whole school. Rare to be given so much time to consider. I can see this working as a whole day or a couple of days to immerse the children in these ideas. Thank you both.

Inspired me to visit the Amazon, encouraged me to think more critically about my own impact on the environment, supported my Year 3 planning, provides me with ideas for planning across the school. 

Challenging. Promotes critical thinking in context, e.g. rivers: similarities and differences between an European and a South American river, as well as focus on rainforests and the Amazon itself. Many thanks.

Lots of transferable ideas across the humanities.

Thank you for hosting the CPD – it is very helpful! 

Thank you both very much.

Just wanted to thank you for this morning – I enjoyed the couple of hours I was able to join you for. I appreciated your time.

Both Adriana and I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with local teachers (and some from slightly further afield) and hope to be able to take many of their pupils on a similar virtual or in situ trip to the Amazon in the not too distant future.

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