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Obesity, food wastage and exam pressure - key education issues under spotlight at sold-out event

PUBLISHED: 15:06 28 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:06 28 April 2018

The TEDxNorwichEd 2018 event at The Space in Sprowston. Picture: Flomotion

The TEDxNorwichEd 2018 event at The Space in Sprowston. Picture: Flomotion

Archant

Crucial issues affecting our schools, teachers and children were put under the spotlight at a sold-out education event in Norwich.

TEDxNorwichED returned to the city on Saturday, bringing together people passionate about education under the theme of Dream Big.

The event, held at The Space in Sprowston, has soared in popularity since it began in 2016, attracting speakers from around the country, trending on social media and being watched around the globe on its live stream.

Saturday’s events saw speakers including school leaders, teachers, psychiatrists, a Paralympian, charity workers, young people and authors take to the stage.

Among them was Bryn Llewellyn, who has taught in and led several Yorkshire schools and became concerned that a test-driven curriculum was having an impact on inactivity and obesity. He was joined by Andy Daly-Smith, a senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, who began his career as a sports scientist.

Mr Llewellyn said: “Sadly with the narrowing of the curriculum, we have certain subjects, such as the arts and PE, being shunted to the side.”

He said the “drilling practice culture” in some schools meant children were expected to sit and concentrate for extended periods of time, despite evidence pointing to decreasing concentration spans.

Mr Daly-Smith: “But it’s not just about education, it’s about health. We know habits are formed in the early years of life and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to change as we age.

“Across the globe, 50pc of children are insufficiently active. In countries like the US and UK, westernised, highi-income countries, that is as high as 80pc. Are we setting our children on a positive health trajectory?”

Later, former primary school teacher Dominic Traynor, who runs education social enterprise A Tale Unfolds, spoke about some of the key issues affecting children.

“I love teaching and it’s given me my proudest moments, but let’s be honest - teachers are exhausted from hyper-accountability,” he said. “There’s precious little opportunity to think about whether the things we are teaching are in fact making the world a better place.

“I believe our children are sleep walking into a future which is just so far away from the kind of world we want them to inherit.”

He said, by 2050, the sea would contain more plastic than fish, and that between 33pc to 50pc of all food produced globally goes uneaten.

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