Keynote Speakers

Photo of Dr. Kevin Smith
Dr Kevin Smith, Cardiff University

Keynote: Finding purpose in practice

About Kevin
Kevin is originally from the United States, where he was a secondary school technology teacher for six years. In 2011, he accepted a post as the Fellow in Curriculum at the Institute of Education at the University of the South Pacific, where he worked with the ministries of education in 11 Pacific island countries in developing capacity in educational research and educational policy and planning. In 2013, he arrived in Wales and worked at the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research Data & Methods (WISERD) as a Research Associate on the Wales Multi-cohort Study. Currently, he is a Senior Lecturer in Education in the School of Social Sciences. His research interests include curriculum theory, critical pedagogy and cultural studies. Kevin is committed to developing capacity for educational research in Wales, and enjoys working with schools, consortia and HEI partners towards that goal.
Keynote Abstract
Wales is undertaking an educational reform journey that promises a significant transformation of teachers’ and pupils’ experience at school. This journey includes the development of a new, national curriculum and the establishment of schools of professional learning organisations. These endeavours are founded upon four, broad purposes of education. These purposes claim pupils will be…

  • Ambitious, capable learners who are ready to learn throughout their lives.
  • Enterprising, creative contributors who are ready to play a full part in life and work.
  • Ethical, informed citizens who are ready to be citizens of Wales and the world.
  • Healthy, confident individuals who are ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

It is difficult to disagree with these purposes, but to what degree do they align with the teaching priorities held by teachers in Wales? More important, how do educators interpret broad purposes of education into more specific concepts and ideas that improve their teacher and the educational experiences of their pupils? This keynote draws on recent research in Wales regarding teachers’ top priorities in the classroom. These responses underscore the importance of not only reflecting on what we believe are our duties and responsibilities as educators, but also our beliefs regarding the general aims and goals of education and the methods through which we hope to achieve these goals. These values and beliefs help construct our sense of purpose as educators, which in turn, influences how we engage with research evidence, conceptualise and perform our pedagogical practice, and perceive ourselves as professional educators. The current efforts underway in transforming Wales’ educational system provide an important opportunity for all of us to consider our sense of purpose and how to nurture a curious and thoughtful disposition that critically informs our practice. In this keynote, I discuss the necessity of interrogating our assumptions and beliefs about education, and the potential benefits of educators engaging in purposeful, philosophical discussions about their practice.

Photo of Dr. Nicola Rollock
Dr Nicola Rollock, Goldsmiths, University of London

Keynote: “I would have become wallpaper had racism had its way”: UK Black female Professors strategies for surviving higher education

About Nicola
Dr Nicola Rollock is an academic, consultant and public speaker specialising in racial justice in education and the workplace. She is a member of the Wellcome Trust’s Diversity & Inclusion Steering Group and a Patron of AdvanceHE’s Race Equality Charter which aims to improve the experiences and progression of students and faculty of colour.

Earlier this year, Nicola was also appointed as the Specialist Adviser to the Home Affairs’ Select Committee inquiry – the Macpherson Report 20 Years On – which is examining whether there has been progress in meeting the 70 recommendations published in 1999.

Her most recent research examines the career experiences and strategies of UK Black female Professors, the findings of which were widely covered across the media including WonkHE, The Guardian, Stylist magazine and British Vogue.

Keynote Abstract
There are just 25 Black female Professors in UK universities. Black women are least likely to be full Professors compared with their male and white counterparts yet remain relatively absent in institutional initiatives to advance gender equality. There is in addition little commitment, amongst UK universities, to explicitly address structural inequalities of race. As such Black female academics remain under-represented and invisible in UK higher education. This keynote address draws on the first known qualitative study into the career experiences and strategies of twenty of these Black female Professors. Specifically, it explores how their academic journeys, shaped as they are by an existence at the intersection of race and gender, result in racial battle fatigue, feelings of isolation and disillusion with the academy. I demonstrate how these women have been compelled to develop wide-ranging strategies of hyper-surveillance, self-care and resilience in order to navigate, survive and remain in higher education.