A few thoughts on #BrewEd #BrewEdBristol

Like much in Bristol the Golden Guinea Pub buzzes with a hidden sheen of unpleasant antiquity. The ‘Guinea’ was coinage made off the back of slavery. This architecturally solid and impressive street was once the home of many ships officers and merchants trading in human misery. How, in such a dark place, the positive light of people coming together flourishes is a mystery to me. Yesterday, it hosted #BrewEdBristol. This was my first BrewEd. I’d read the tweets of the many hosted over the last year and thought they would be like any other Saturday morning conference I’d been too. I was wrong. #BrewEdBristol was the most laid back, friendly and personal space I have ever spoken in. @JamieGBarry, who organised it, had the look of the nervous host when I arrived (Having been involved in trying to put together Edu Events I can understand why). He said he was disappointed in the size of room, there was no heating, people had pulled out last minute, and there was no tea at first!?! I could see the panic rising… Was he hosting the first ever #NoBrewEd? He need not have worried. BrewEdBristol wasn’t about the big slick conference. It was grassroots; it was indie… it had soul. It was about a group of like-minded people coming together to talk about what they do and what they feel. BrewEdBristol wasn’t about drinking… But, there was a celebratory feel all the same. I had to leave early which was so disappointing. I followed the tweets for the rest of the day and wish I had more time to chat to people and listen. I will be at the next one for certain though.

I did my talk (I’d encourage anyone if they have something to say to do a BrewEd first because the audience are so accepting). I got a few laughs, was able to be open and felt that connection to the room because I felt I was free to express my experiences and ideas.

I did a short Room 101 of Reasons to be Cheerful in Education. I got to reference Ian Dury, told my ‘nuking your school’ story and found out that ‘Free stationary for life’ was NOT one of the reasons to be positive about working in education.

The two speakers after me lit the room up. Talking but feeling like you are engaging in a conversation is unusual but rather enlightening for a conference. @McGillycuddy101 spoke about her first year in headship… she pulled no punches and yet she lifted the room up through talking about her own misery and pain. Her rambling narrative was genius, every aspiring or new head should listen to people new to the job. As she said, “No one has written the book of headship that tells you what it is really like.” The loneliness, the ridiculous helter-skelter from- the dull to the ridiculous to the terrifying… Though slightly different, @johnbryantHT also took us on his journey. There was wisdom in both speakers and I took much away from their talks…

The grassroots of discourse and networking are in very safe hands with #BrewEd… If there’s one near you I would really recommend you check it out.

My One take away… There really does need to be a warts and all manuel for aspiring school leaders.

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