A Fabulous Day Out

An early start for us this morning. Mr K had booked us tickets to the Oxford University Alumni Meeting Minds event. We set off for Oxford at 8am which was a bit of a shock to the system!
But it did mean that we got to see a beautiful North Oxford looking beautiful in the early morning Autumnal loveliness!
Miraculously we were actually a bit early so we went to Taylor's for a quick breakfast. We sat outside and I ignored Mr K's increasingly more meaningful stares at his watch and enjoyed my sausage roll. And my tea. And my pain au chocolat!!
Then I put him out of his misery and we headed back up to the new Mathematical Institute. It's been built as part of the huge redevelopment of the Radcliffe Infirmary.
The picture in the middle shows the beautiful old hospital building and the fountain in front of it. I had a bit of a wobble as we walked through as it was the hospital my brother was in 1997 after being moved from Brighton after his stroke. We went there every day for months (or weeks? I realise now I can't remember how long he was there before moving to the rehab centre) 
I remember the fountain, the canteen with delicious subsidised food - lasagne and chips every night!, Mr D's bed and that's about it! Now it's all changed beyond all recognition apart from the beautiful facade and the fountain.
It's good though, a beautiful re-development.
The first event was Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt in conversation. Thankfully Sir Tim is better at software engineering than he is at public speaking!! At first his microphone was in the wrong place and he mumbled incoherently and I thought we were going to be in for a long, painful hour. But he fixed his mic eventually and when he relaxed you could just about follow what he was saying!
Sir Nigel Shadbolt is a big cheese in Artificial Intelligence (apparently!!) and was very interesting. They questioned each other and chatted about their history and experiences since University. 
It was very interesting!
There was just time for a cup of tea before heading into Dr Jane Mellanby's lecture on Educational Attainment: potential, expectations and limitations.
When Mr K said we were going to that I pretended to fall asleep, start snoring and slide under the table. Yawn!! 
But it was brilliant! Fascinating, sobering, inspiring and thought provoking.
She argued that many bright children are missed by the current school attainment assessments and that we should be assessing potential earlier and stopping those children slipping through the net. Her focus is children aged 7-13 who are underachieving academically relative to their potential.The stats of regional differences in results was staggering and the new test she's developed to test potential so obvious - not timed (to reduce anxiety), delivered thorough headphones as well as on screens (so not dependent on reading), spatial as well as verbal (to find the future architects, engineers, carpenters, garden designers etc). All designed to assess potential rather than achievement.
And she talked a lot about realising STEM potential in girls which is obviously a topic of interest to Mr K and me! She talked about raising academic self concept in maths and science. Basically telling them they can do it rather than allowing a self fulfilling prophecy whereby they think they can't so they can't.
Anyway I could go on for hours. It was fascinating!
We went to the bookshop after and bought her book and then when we sat and had a cup of tea afterwards Dr Mellanby came out and I had a really interesting talk with her about the Little Misses. She was delighted that Miss E wants to be a marine biologist!!!
We had lunch in the subsided cafe (not that far from the spot where we would have sat in the hospital canteen all those years ago)  - delicious roast chicken, buttered cabbage and potato dauphinoise. Yummy!!!!!!
Then it was time to jump back on the bus to the Park and Ride and head home. 
An afternoon chatting to Nanny and then an evening watching X-Factor.
A pretty good day!


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