Rocks is back, are you coming…
Rocks is back, are you coming…

Rocks is back, are you coming…

Many thanks to the Teach Company for sharing – ahead of the ticket release of OneSchool #srocks19.

Fantastic speakers, numerous sessions, great coffee and tea…oh, and celebrating great teaching with great teachers, what more could you want?

In the relative calmness of the post-exam period in June 2017, we mooted the idea of hosting a ‘teachers for teachers’ event. Modest, with real heart, where any teacher could share their story with other teachers; what David refers to as ‘campfire CPD’.

September was already ‘Pedagoo Hampshire’. October was most definitely ‘Teaching and Learning Takeover’. So we settled on February.

Other than that, the only concrete decision was David’s insistence on ice-cream, despite the average seasonal temperature around our agreed event date rarely hitting double figures. We accepted that six months presented a timely challenge, and set about our task.

We emailed, called, DMd, cajoled and harassed former colleagues and associates, and were pleasantly surprised when many agreed to be involved.

We called in all our owed favours and offered IOUs where there were none. We pleaded ‘zero-budget’ and exchanged goodwill for support. We even borrowed our name, ‘Southern Rocks’ (thank you Debra Kidd and thank you Northern Rocks).

Emerging advocacy groups, #WomedEd and #BameEd, got behind us, encouraging a wide group of teachers to get involved… and by October, we nearly had a full programme.

Tickets were released later that month and steadily the numbers climbed. We hit our target of 50 and they carried on rising. We recruited a few extra session leads… and they grew higher.

It was around January that we started to recognise a rather unique atmosphere was developing. Teachers were talking about Southern Rocks as the next ‘anticipated’ event. And still the numbers climbed.

We were starting to find it tough to make ends meet. Our employers, OneSchool, and local Trustees in particular, were nothing short of tremendous. They encouraged us to focus on what was needed, rather than what we had, offering to cover any shortfall our slightly ambitious plans were starting to expose.

They even encouraged us to host a pre-Rocks meal for our session leads, as a token of their appreciation, for colleagues giving up their Saturday to lead a session, and offered to cover that as well!

Thankfully, our pleas for support were slowly being answered.

Onvu Learning, Calls9, Discovery the World, Literacy Planet and John Catt Publishing all contributed; Twinkl, GCSEPod, Canvas and IPEVO sent deliveries; James Dean and Sam Cook at Everybranded produced the lanyards; and a long list of education authors donated signed copies of their books. At 240 David closed the ticket sales and opened a waiting list.

And it continued to get longer…

So, how did it go? Well, we certainly hope that attending was worthwhile. Feedback would suggest the event was somehow special.

Lots of teachers made their presenting debuts, some travelled a long way to be with us (thank you), some made new connections and many revisited old ones.

Perhaps I should let one of the delegates explain the impact in her own words:

Dear Kristian and David and your amazing team,

I cannot thank you enough for organising this event. Wow…so impressed, from the minute I arrived to the moment I left, by your amazing students who were braving the freezing misty day; the enthusiastic welcoming committee; the thought provoking ideas and stimulating talks; the buzzing atmosphere, the food…it really didn’t stop flowing…

She closes with:

Many thanks again for all your time and effort in putting together such a fabulous event which was so enjoyed by all. Keep doing what you are doing…if you have enough energy!

Enough said.

And what did we get out of it? Teaching is a tough profession. Knowing that we brought teachers together, knowing that they will have left stronger, revitalised is a privilege. And as for being in a position to say, “thank you for all you do,” – that is a pretty cool thing, don’t you think?

So, why join us at SRocks19? Given the feedback from the 2018 event we are trying hard not to change too much. Fantastic speakers. 30 sessions. A warm welcome, of course – great coffee. Tea, fresh fruit, pastries. Lunch, fresh from the BBQ, care of the Rapid Relief Team. Lots of ‘Golden Tickets’, that come with gifts (signed books, teacher goodies, 1st in line, VIP treatment). And most definitely ice cream. But most of all – come for the stories.

Kristian Still (@KristianStill) is headteacher at Focus School, Hindhead Campus. Together with David Rogers, he organised the first Southern Rocks event in 2018. Southern Rocks 2019 will take place on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019. For more information, head to

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