It was an honour to be asked to speak at the Festival in 2022, although we soon realised that with 300 speakers over 2 days, there would be a lot of choice for the attendees. Keynote speaker Amanda Spielman delivered an impassioned talk about Ofsted and how schools cannot separate wellbeing from education, the two go hand in hand and that inspectors will be looking at how schools demonstrate their dedication to wellbeing.
Our patron and keynote speaker on the first day, former head of Wellington College, where the festival was being held, Sir Anthony Seldon was faced with an interesting challenge of writing his piece about Boris Johnson leaving office just before his talk on the future of education. We had a lovely chat in the café beforehand where he reiterated his support for the work we are doing, confiding in me that there were many more MPs in the House of Commons practising yoga and meditation than let on, specifically in the Conservative party, which was an entertaining observation.
As he spoke to me passionately about how what we are doing as a charity is so important because IT WORKS and IT IS TRUE, as he said with some emphasis, he sprung up and gave me a big hug and we agreed that pupils just need us to love them! It was a heart-warming exchange.
It was lovely to have the Quad area of the beautiful college to demonstrate our yoga and wellbeing sessions and speak to interested teachers. We were a little concerned that there might not be too many coming to the talk, entitled: Addressing post-Covid mental health issues in the classroom, as we had witnessed quite a few empty tents. However, our fears were allayed when we noticed people walking towards our classroom and over 20 people joined us for the talk which included sharing the evidence for yoga for young people followed. by a simple, short but effective chair yoga practise, which left everyone in a completely different state than when they had come. The change was palpable. We had many interesting questions and our concern for teachers was further supported as we noticed how many are surviving rather than thriving. However, what was particularly uplifting was how so many wanted to train in yoga to share it in the classroom. We were all particularly excited by the latest Forbes report, which states that 1million (33%) yoga practitioners in the UK are under 18. Teachers are concerned for young people and want to help them, and yoga seems to be the way that teens themselves are choosing to turn their lives around.
The day ended in glorious sunshine and we all had an ice cream!