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Collaborate, network and learn: Our plans for Annual Conference 2024

When our Annual Conference returned post-pandemic in November 2022, we realised just how busy that month was for many across the children’s sector.

With so many events all held within the same few weeks, it felt very crowded, and we were aware people had to choose between events. We made the decision to move the conference to May when there (currently…) appears to be less larger events on – we’re also hoping to benefit from better weather! 

Those of you who attended the 2022 conference may also recall it was hybrid, however, we found that set-up wasn’t the most effective use of resources, so this year we have reverted to in-person only. 

Apart from those two changes, many other things remain the same. 

We’re back at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, providing us with space to have the large conference hall, exhibition hall, and lots of workshop rooms to accommodate our full programme. 

The exhibition hall provides the space to meet approximately 40 different organisations from across the children’s sector, and it will also be the space to network and grab refreshments and food (yes, cake stalls will be back!). 

And, as always, children and young people’s involvement will be central. Delegates will see lots of Changing our World (click here for more) – our children and young people’s advisory group – and we will have a young person co-chairing each day, too. We are also hoping to have Edinburgh Collage of Art students returning to provide their take on proceedings. 

Our programme is currently still being developed but, as of early March, we have the following experts confirmed for our lineup: 

  • Nicola Killean, the Children & Young People’s Commissioner, who will co-chair day one of the conference.
  • Steven Sweeny, CEO of Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire and Children in Scotland Board Convener, is co-chairing the other day.
  • Dr Judith Turbyne, our CEO, will be delivering a keynote and asking delegates about their priorities to help us shape our future plans.
  • Dr Alexia Barrable, lecturer in Psychology and Education at QMU, will discuss her research into how interactions with the natural world can affect children and young people’s wellbeing.
  • A panel discussion, moderated by Ken Corish, Online Safety Manager at South West Grid for Learning, will focus on the implications and opportunities Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses for children and their rights.
  • Jimmy Paul, Head of Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, will discuss the topic of behaviour in schools.

We will be delivering 25 workshops across the two days – but with more than 90 submissions, our Learning & Events team now faces the challenge of whittling that down! The quality of ideas has been so high, so some workshops that don’t make the final cut will no doubt make an appearance in our Learning Programme. 

Sustainability is also a key issue for us.

Financially, we need to hit the sweet spot of covering our costs while keeping our ticket prices as low as possible. Thanks to our sponsors – Kibble, Road Safety Scotland and Harmeny – and exhibitors, we have been able to do that. Our prices are substantially lower than most other conferences and represent real value for money. 

We are at the start of our journey to make the event more environmentally friendly and plan to develop this year-on-year. We feel that using Murrayfield allows people to travel by public transport and this year we are limiting the amount of hardcopy materials we produce, and moving to a vegetarian and vegan menu. 

It’s shaping up to be a great conference – I really hope to see you there! 

For the latest information on the conference programme, click here to visit our hub

To buy tickets, click here to visit our Eventbrite page – and don't forget, Children in Scotland members receive an exclusive discount! 

About the author

Simon Massey is Head of Engagement and Learning at Children in Scotland

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