When faced with adversity, we must find courage, humour & hope! @CambsEdFest

This piece was first published in the Cambridge Independent Newspaper on 2nd May 2017



One of the great frustrations of working in education is that we have to endure a constant to and fro of education policy, a great pendulum swing that seems to knock everyone on the head each time there is a new political administration. Things could all be in place, plans written, preparation and training undertaken but as we saw in 2010 with the anticipated Jim Rose Primary Curriculum everything can be whisked away overnight and as I witnessed in the DFE offices (I am a member of the DFE’s Primary Headteachers’ Reference Group) the rainbows of Every Child Matters, dumped unceremoniously in the bins!

The constant redirection of policy and the revolving door of incoming Ministers of Education with their own particular biographical biases setting the educational agenda are exhausting, inefficient and uneconomical. I wonder why this constant change is permitted in these times of “austerity” and why it is not possible for a cross-party group to take a longer term view of the nation’s educational priorities! In doing this they could also perhaps consider the importance of promoting arts and creative subjects to the same extent as STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) given that the creative industries contribute £84.1 billion to the UK economy every year.

With yet another General Election on the near horizon, and a whole host of current challenges for educators to contend with including funding cuts, continuous revisions to national assessment, the punitive accountability measures including OfSTED, the narrowing of curriculum, and a recruitment and retention crisis, let alone what other new changes may materialise, it seems as if our educational landscape is a pretty bleak, political, polarising and pulverising place at the moment.

However, when faced with adversity, we must find courage, humour and hope!

Despite all that is going on what we can be certain of is that our children deserve great teachers and our teachers and communities deserve great schools and no amount of pessimism or disaster thinking is going to change this fact. Over the last year, with a few other twitter chums (@MattGovernor @ThatBoyCanTeach @NataliehScott @HopeStreetBlues @HelenaMarsh81 @_borntosparkle @EnserMark and others*) we have been starting a social media campaign proposing that for the sake of our children, our colleagues and our communities, teachers must be optimistic educators #OptimisticEd. @OptimisticEd_ . This does not mean that we are willfully naïve to all the challenges and complexities around us however we need to be a positive antidote.  Happiness, humour, hope, creativity, connection, psychological safety, and optimism are key. If we are going to encourage others to join our noble and elegant profession we must manifest schools as exciting, brilliant, joyful, beautiful places where anything can happen. And rather than being Lemmings of Despair, we must be #FlamingosOfHope.


Well I am now pleased to say that after a year the online campaign #flamingosofhope has got wings and is taking flight (sorry) and with great support from a number of anchor partners including Anglia Ruskin University, The University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, the Cambridgeshire School Improvement Board, The Teaching School Alliances, Teach in Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City Council and Cambridge County Council we are working on a week-long Cambridgeshire Festival of Education starting on Saturday 25th June and culminating in a one day Conference on Saturday 1st July at Anglia Ruskin University.

We are also particularly excited that Cambridge Independent  have agreed to be our Media Partners. The Independent’s values including Intelligence, Community, Quality, Relevant, Educating, Engaging, Informative, Trusted, Entertaining, Interactive, and Positive make them a perfect fit for the vision of Cambridgeshire Festival of Education!

For this year’s event the steering committee have identified 5 key themes:

  • Optimistic Leadership
  • The Empowered Teacher
  • Identity & Community
  • Creativity in Education
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing

Cambridgeshire Festival of Education is for everyone. It aims to be informative, inspirational, exciting, energising and invigorating and we want as many people as possible to get involved and to #JoinTheFlamboyance.

Over the next few weeks and months, thanks to our partnership with Cambridge Independent we hope to let you know more about the vision for the Festival including telling you about all the great speakers and workshops we have lined up, as well as explaining how your school or place of work can get involved.

In the meantime please follow @CambsEdFest

Visit the website Cambridgeshire Festival of Education

Buy tickets for the Cambridgeshire Festival of Education

Facebook: @cambsedfest

Twitter: @CambsEdFest

We need an education system based on hope not fear, one that appreciates the humanity of human beings.”  Professor Yong Zhao

Rae Snape – Headteacher/National Leader of Education – The Spinney Primary School, Cambridge, England

Head of The Kite Teaching School Alliance, Cambridge

P.S. * If you are a #flamingoofhope and part of the #flamboyance and I have accidentally missed you out, please let me know and I will edit this and add you in!


Thanks – Rae