A record-breaking 99 delegates, exhibitors and speakers attended the annual BAISIS conference on Friday 10 March 2017 at the Jury’s Inn hotel, Birmingham, where they were treated to an electrifying keynote address by Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea CBE, DL – Founder of Cobra Beer, President of the UK council for International Student Affairs and Chancellor of Birmingham University. Lord Bilimoria took the audience on his own education journey, acknowledging the power of teachers to change lives. He also spoke passionately against the Government’s insistence on including international students in net migration figures and on the damage that this policy does to our global reputation. Taking questions from the floor, he spoke candidly about his fears for international education post-Brexit. He finished with his favourite poem by the Indian Poet Laureate Rabindranath Tagore: “Where the Mind Is Without Fear”. It was a powerful performance with which to start the day.
The day continued with separate programmes of seminars and workshops tailored to the interests of EAL teaching specialists and senior managers in schools. A record number of exhibitors from publishers, guardianship organisations and other education-related businesses attended the event.
The conference finished with another, equally-inspiring talk by Natasha Devon, columnist, TV pundit and Director of the Self Esteem Team which advises young people, their teachers and parents on strategies to support children’s mental well-being. Passionate, well-informed and funny, Natasha ended the day on an inspiring note and sent delegates home with their brains buzzing.
The conference has become the go-to event for all those responsible for academic and pastoral provision for international students in British schools and for the senior management of those schools. Work on the next conference has already begun!