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Published 27th February 2008, 3:25pm

More than 700 educators from public schools, private schools and various government bodies within the education system will join the Hon. Minister of Education on Friday 29th February for the country’s third annual National Education Conference, appropriately entitled ‘Building Excellence Together’. As with the previous conferences, the 2008 event will provide an opportunity for Cayman’s teaching community to discuss issues and explore developments in the field, whilst also placing emphasis on the vitally important subject of wellbeing among educators. The format of this year’s forum takes an entirely different approach in ensuring that participants leave at the end of the day having been inspired, educated and having gained first hand experience of some of the field’s most inventive thinking. As such, on Thursday evening, the education fraternity in the Cayman Islands - which includes public and private school educators - will have an opportunity to come together and enjoy among their discussions, a ‘marketplace’ experience whilst perusing a wealth of educational goods and services displayed by local and overseas vendors. Another significant change to the one-day conference format is the introduction of concurrent workshop sessions which will take place throughout the afternoon. These sessions, facilitated by local specialists will offer educators the chance to collaborate and participate in stimulating discussions covering a wide variety of relevant subjects. Whilst not presenting at this years event, internationally renowned Professor Stephen Heppell will once again be on hand to participate in discussions, and will conduct several workshops on the topic of 21st century education. The final and perhaps most significant change to this year’s event utilizes the wealth of knowledge that is currently available within the Island’s education system, and draws on the talents of experienced local specialists as guest speakers. Notwithstanding, conference organisers are delighted to have Ms. Elaine Foster-Allen join the local line-up to deliver the keynote address. Ms. Foster Allen, who’s presentation is entitled ‘Teaching for Excellence: Challenges and Opportunities for the Caymanian Teacher’ was educated in the United Kingdom and is the Principal of Shortwood Teachers’ College in Jamaica. She holds a Master of Philosophy degree in Theology and a Bachelor’s degree in education from the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham respectively and has worked for 30 years in the field of education. During her extensive career as an educator, Ms Foster Allen has spent nearly 13 years in Jamaica and over 17 in the United Kingdom. She is well published on a variety of subjects such as education, gender, race and faith and is Jamaica’s representative to the governing body of the International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean – IESALC – UNESCO. Hon. Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Education, in referring to this year’s conference stated “since our last national education conference just over a year ago, a number of key strategies for reform have been delivered, including the new governance model and the new national curriculum among many others. Our focus is now shifting to developing the greatest asset we have, which is our human resource. As such, educators are beginning to benefit from comprehensive training programmes, which incorporate the widest range of teaching and learning styles as well as ICT integration. This kind of personal development training will help to ensure that our educators are able to meet the diverse needs of individual students as they endeavour to achieve their fullest potential.” Given the new workshop format and the large number of attendees that will be participating, the Ministry of Education regrets that it is unable to also accommodate members of the public at this year’s conference. Consequently, the public is invited to tune in to Radio Cayman from 8:30am to listen to a live broadcast of the opening plenary session, which includes addresses by both the Hon. Leader of Government Business and the Hon. Minister of Education, and the keynote address by Ms. Elaine Foster Allen