IB Global Conference and Heads World Conference, Dublin 2023


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Thank you to everyone who attended the International Baccalaureate (IB) Global Conference, and Heads World Conference, Dublin, in October 2023. We are so grateful to all who gathered for this unique experience, to discuss Education for an inclusive future.

More than 1,700 attendees from 101 countries met in Dublin to attend the concurrently held IB Global Conference and Heads World Conferences. It had been 5 years since the IB hosted a Heads World Conference, and the level of community involvement and enthusiasm we experienced left us thoroughly inspired. 

Attendees from around the world explored fresh ideas and skills for teaching and leadership, while discussing best practices for the future of education. Held under the theme Education for an inclusive future, attendees explored how to navigate the evolving educational landscape through a forward-thinking and open-minded approach to teaching and leadership.

Opening day

On the first day, we were greeted by IB Director General, Olli-Pekka Heinonen, who delivered the opening remarks. We remember his inspiring words with, “None of us are alone in front of the challenges of our era.” 

We proudly hosted IB alumni, Caoilfhinn McCormack who shared her story with the IB and how it contributed to her growth. Caoilfhinn received her BSc Honours Degree in Geology, and worked over the summer as a junior geologist, before returning to UCD to assist with the creation of a National Geothermal Database project. This project aims to facilitate geothermal resource characterisation, a key policy objective in Ireland's Climate Action Plan. 

She stated, “What set my IB experience apart from my other schooling, was my educators. My teachers were stewards of the world – threading different sights and sounds and textures and colours and ideas, channeling them, into this beautiful tapestry of thought, a patchwork of pedagogy.”  

We were all inspired by her passions and professional journey. 

Our first keynote speaker, James Nottingham, addressed Education for an inclusive future, and the steps educators can take towards improved inclusivity, to boost the self-efficacy of all students. 

“Overcoming challenges. That’s the best way to develop self-efficacy. I say to parents, if I were you, think less about helping your children to succeed, and more about helping your children to overcome challenges; trying to get them to the finish line, giving them the opportunity to learn how to overcome.” 

More about James’ work can be found at LearningPit.org.

Second day

The General session started with the Festival of Hope Panel, which centered around fostering inspiration, community and action. We heard from youth leaders Jake Gates, Alda Aflatuni, Kaitlin IP, Satoe Tohi, Leila Zak and Abhinav Kumar. The panel was moderated by IB Director General, Olli-Pekka Heinonen. 

Festival of Hope’s purpose is to create safe spaces for young people to come together and have a voice that inspires action. During this discussion we learned how we can turn fear into hope and make an impact in areas that need change.  

We invite all to learn more about Festival of Hope here.

The panel discussion was followed by our community voice and co-founder of IBlieve, Imogen Duke. We thank Imogen for her heartfelt speech and thoughtful message.    

We then heard from our Keynote speaker, Dr Sue Roffey, Director of Growing Great Schools Worldwide, and Honorary professor at University College London. Dr Roffey identified the micro-moments as well as the policies that promote Agency, Safety, Positivity, Inclusion, Respect and Equity, and says why each is important for well-being, learning, and creating the world we want to live in. We remember her presentation with the quote, “Agency is about developing responsibility.” 

Sue is a prolific author, having written over 20 books and numerous chapters and articles on behaviour, childhood, relationships, social and emotional learning (SEL) and positive psychology. She is now writing “ASPIRE to Wellbeing and Learning for All: The principles underpinning positive education”, to be published by Routledge next year. 

Closing day

Finally, we wrapped up the conference with our community voice, Dr Nikki Carter, History Subject leader at St. Andrews College. 

Our closing Keynote speaker, founder of The Anti-Racist Hotdog, Wandile Mthiyane provided attendees with actionable tools to cultivate anti-racist culture, empowering students to emerge as visionary leaders. His fervor for education’s transformative influence stands as a rallying cry, urging teachers to embrace their pivotal role in shaping the next generation of change agents.  

We remember his captivating speech with, “To be biased is to be human. To challenge those biases is to be a good person.” 

Topic experts for IB Heads World Conference

In addition to the general sessions, Heads of school were able to attend 3 Topic Expert sessions, hosted by industry professionals, and targeted towards heads of school, principals, vice-principals, deputy heads, directors, executive directors, assistant heads of school, superintendents and heads of section. 

Topic Expert highlights included the following: 

  • Re-thinking behaviour for the future of our schools – Adele Bates, Behaviour and education specialist, International Keynote speaker and author. Adele Bates empowers school leaders and teachers to support pupils with behavioural needs and SEMH to thrive with their education. She’s an award-winning International Keynote Speaker, a featured expert on teenagers and behaviour for BBC Radio 4, and the author of "Miss, I don't Give A Sh*t," Engaging with Challenging Behaviour in Schools. We remember her session with the quote, “Safety and belonging first, learning second.” 
  • Modelling a culture of wellbeing – Dr Emma Kell, Performance coach, author and director of Those That Can Ltd. Dr Emma Kell has 25 years of experience as a teacher and leader in UK secondary schools and currently teaches in Alternative Provision. Her session took a pragmatic, research, and experience-based approach to wellbeing. She acknowledged the challenges school leaders and their teams are currently facing, and taught us practical ways of looking after ourselves and one another. She stated, “Teaching leadership is a deeply human endeavor. We bring our whole selves into those buildings. We’re not working with products or numbers.” Dr Kell is writing her fourth book, Real Lives of Teachers, due for publication with Sage Education in 2024. She can be found at https://www.those-that-can.com/
  • Small shifts that lead to big gains in student learning – James Nottingham, Consultant, author, teacher and Keynote speaker. James Nottingham works with IB and state schools to help identify the adjustments that can be made to significantly improve learning for all students. He has worked closely with professors Carol Dweck (Growth Mindset) and John Hattie (Visible Learning); been a teaching assistant in a school for deaf children; taught from pre-kindergarten to 12; and held a range of school and district leadership positions. During his session, James identified the small adjustments in leading and teaching that result in significant improvements in student learning. During his presentation, he stated, “When giving feedback, we want our students to think this is an opportunity to explore together.” 

Attendees can access the web version of the conference app to download session slides that have been shared by presenters. The full conference programme for the IB Global Conference can be found here. The full programme for the Heads World Conference can be found here.  

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to our community of passionate educators, Heads of schools, presenters, exhibitors and sponsors for joining us in Dublin. The success of these conferences would not have been possible without you. 

See you at IB Global Conference, Budapest 2024!​ 

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Relive our attendees' favourite moments of the conference on social media with #IBGC2023!