I am delighted to be able to write to inform you about next year’s Annual Conference, which will take place in Bogotá between April 17th and 20th. The theme is “Putting the Student at the Centre” and we will spend the three days together exploring many aspects of this theme, which is so fundamental to education in the 21st century.
All three of our member schools in Bogotá are supporting the organisation of this conference but Colegio Gran Bretaña will be taking the lead and have already done a tremendous amount of work in getting things moving. In late June I spent two days in Bogotá working with the school to identify suitable locations, we then spent a good deal of time in our Executive Committee meeting in September refining the plans and last week I returned to Bogotá for my annual visit and took advantage of the trip to finalise a lot of conference details.
We have taken into account all of the feedback received after the last conference and have done our best to respond to it in the organisation of this one. Because of the geography and the traffic of Bogotá, it was impossible to host the entire conference in Colegio Gran Bretaña, so we have found an excellent hotel in a very good location for the bulk of the conference sessions but we will go out to CGB on the Thursday for workshops and a networking lunch.
Partly because of the above, and also in response to feedback, we have changed the organisation of the sessions a little. We still have a mixture of keynotes, breakouts, discussion forums and workshops but in slightly different proportions. The main difference is that we will have four keynote speakers and four additional breakout speakers, offering an unprecedented range of educational experience and expertise for conference delegates to tap into. Please have a look at the accompanying plan to see how the sessions will be arranged.
So far we have Douglas Fisher, Nikki Woodson and Rhonda Bondie confirmed as keynote speakers. They have all been extremely highly recommended by members of our association and from my initial contact with them I think that they will be exceptional. We are working on the fourth speaker and hope to have that gap filled very soon. We also have Daniel Bonilla, Michelle Coleman and Natalia Castillo confirmed as breakout session leaders and are close to confirming the fourth. I will send more information about the speakers in a subsequent email but I am confident that there will be lots of very valuable insights to take away from the conference.
Louise Simpson from the Executive Committee is coordinating the workshops this year and I will be sending out a separate letter about these to follow on from this one. However, please be thinking about who in your schools could give a workshop as this is a very important part of our conference and goes right to the heart of our mission of “Sharing expertise for school improvement”.
Amanda Jacob will be coordinating the discussion forums and we will be asking for your input in order to establish the topics of discussion so again, please be thinking about this now.
We have included student participation in our plans and we feel that we have hit a good balance between student interaction with school leaders and students working independently on themes that are directly relevant to them. More detailed information will follow this introductory letter but for now please be thinking about who you want to send. Because of the implications of organising the hosting there will be a strict limit of 2 students per school and a strict deadline of November 30th for registering them. Yasir Patel and Luz Balboni are supporting the organisation of the student element of the conference.
I have spoken to the Heads of Music in the three schools in Bogotá and they are very keen to offer a choir this year. There will be a limit of 40 students from outside Bogotá and the registration deadline will also be November 30th so again, please be thinking about who you want to send. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
The conference hotel will be the NH Collection Teleport Royal, which is a beautiful hotel very close to the picturesque and atmospheric area of Usaquén. We have been given a very good price for accommodation at this hotel and its sister hotel – NH Collection Hacienda Royal – which is a five minute walk away, but there are also many other options close by. More details to come very shortly.
We have decided not to organise networking activities this year, mainly because of the limitations imposed by the traffic in Bogotá but there will be several opportunities for informal networking during the conference: the welcome cocktail, which will be in the Irish Pub, very close to the hotel and a lunch on Thursday at a beautiful location close to CGB, with the option of staying on for football or tennis for those that wish to do so. There will also be opportunities to visit all three LAHC schools in Bogotá on the Monday and Tuesday prior to the conference.
I will leave it there for now and will be following this up with more detailed correspondence about the different aspects of the conference during the course of the week. For now, please be thinking about which teachers, students and choir members you intend to bring with you and make sure that you have the dates in your diary.