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A unique event with special guests bringing fresh thinking to the way we educate children and young people living in challenging circumstances.

Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices

Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel - 30th January 2019

NB Bookings now closed. Watch this space for future conferences on this theme

In May 2018 the book, The Working Class: Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices, quickly became a bestseller. With around 50 contributors from across the world of education, it was written to challenge the way we view how we work with children and young people living in poverty.

It offers educators everywhere an alternative vision of what can and should be done.

This is the conference of the book and it promises to be just as challenging, practical and inspiring for all those working with children in challenging socio-economic circumstances.

Featuring keynotes and workshops from some of the books many contributors, we are also joined on the day by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, along with young people from the children's charity Reclaim - to whom profits from this event will be going.

Check out the speakers and the full programme below and we do hope you can join us on the day.


Ian Gilbert

Ian is the founder of Independent Thinking, an international educational speaker, award-winning writer and editor and the man behind the book The Working Class.

Bringing together voices from across the educational world, Ian felt it was vital to highlight a different narrative when it came to educating children and young people from poorer socio-economic backgrounds. In doing so, he created an important text, described by Professor Diane Reay as 'Passionate, lyrical and compelling'.

Jaz Ampaw-Farr

Jaz is an extraordinary speaker with an extraordinary story to tell. She not only grew up in poverty on a council estate in the Midlands, she was also subjected to the most terrible abuse, yet she lived to tell the tale.

Her survival, she explains in her contribution to The Working Class, is down to the five teachers who saved her life. At a time when 'resilience' is very much on the agenda, we need to look not only at what we can teach children growing up in challenging circumstances but what we can learn from them.


Hywel Roberts

Hywel is one of the UK's most sought-after speakers. And if you are lucky enough to have seen him in action, you will know why.

Not only is he engaging and entertaining, he also has one foot very much in classrooms all over the country and many of these classrooms, like the ones where he cut his teeth as a young teacher, involve working with children from some of our poorest and most challenging communities.

Hywel always offers practical ideas to ensure we offer all children a broad, rich and endlessly creative curriculum, despite the pressures to narrow down what we offer to the very children who need our help the most.

Dr Debra Kidd

Debra is a rare educator with experience across every phase - so much of it rooted in educating those from traditional working class communities.

She not only works with schools across the UK and internationally, she is also an Associate Lecturer in the PGCE programme at Leeds Beckett University.

With a passion for justice and equality, Debra's work highlights the need to ensure all young people have access to a curriculum that not only stretches and challenges them but which is also rooted and connected to the place in which they live. She challenges the 'holy grail' of social mobility, suggesting a more enlightened approach to supporting communities.

Dave Whitaker

Dave is the principal of Springwell Special Academy and heads up a number of special schools, PRUs and Alternative Provision establishments.

Dave works in some of the country's poorest communities with some of our most hard-to-reach and behaviourally challenging children and young people.

His approach, for which he has received national media interest, is based upon the principle of 'unconditional positive regard'. He is proof that, when it comes to 'zero tolerance', there is always another way.

Nina Jackson

Nina's contribution to the book is as beautiful as it is insightful. 

Drawing on the experiences of her 'Tadcu' (Welsh for grandfather) and detailing his life growing up and working in a traditional working class mining community in South Wales, she intersperses this narrative with many of the Welsh-language poems he wrote throughout his life.

A prize-winning bard, Tadcu is proof of the academic and literary potential so many of us have, regardless of our economic background or academic successes.

It is an important message, beautifully told, for educators everywhere, one that helps us move away from the temptation of judging the potential of young people based on their family circumstances and their background and measured only in academic results and fitting in.


RECLAIM is an outstanding charity established specifically to give a voice to young people from working class backgrounds.

As such they are the ideal fit for the conference and the embodiment of so many messages we address in the book about opportunity, creativity, alternative narratives and the real potential of young people of all backgrounds.

We are delighted to have a number of their amazing young people speaking throughout the day.

In the charity's own words:

"It is important now more than ever that young people from working class areas are seen, heard and LEAD positive social change. It is time to tell a different story. A story that concentrates on the strengths of working class communities, where their voices are heard in creating a more fair and prosperous society."

Profits from the event will go to supporting future collaborations with RECLAIM.


Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Andy Burnham was elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017. 

Prior to this Andy was MP for Leigh from 2001. In government, Andy has held Ministerial positions at the Home Office, Department of Health and the Treasury.

In 2008 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before returning to Health as Secretary of State in 2009 and also served as Shadow Education Secretary, Health and Home Secretaries.


We are proud to be sponsored for this event by Safeguarding Monitor Ltd.


This event promises to be challenging and inspiring in equal measure with plenty of practical ideas and insights to take away.

Tickets are just £199 +VAT and are limited, so please book early to guarantee your place.

The venue is the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel, Portland Street, Manchester, M1 4PH.

We look forward to seeing you there and sharing a day worthy of such an important book.


Make a booking, ask a question or just say hello.

Give us a call on +44 (0)1267 211432, drop us a line at or hit the button.

Our office in lovely West Wales will then get in touch before you can say 'meddylwyr annibynnol'.