Dublin Welcomed IB Educators at the IB Global and Heads World Conference to Reimagine the Future of Education


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The International Baccalaureate (IB) hosted its third IB Global and Heads World Conferences concurrently in Dublin, Ireland, from 5 to 8 October 2023 for over 1,700 participants from 101 countries. The conferences' theme, “Education for an inclusive future,” centered on the evolving educational landscape and required critical conversations among educators and leadership to promote progress and innovation in learning and teaching.

After the success of the Global and Heads World Conferences in 2015 and 2018, the IB once again held the dual conference event through a unique forum that brought together the largest gathering of IB educators from the Irish region, and beyond. Over the course of four days, more than 1,700 attendees had the opportunity to learn from education experts, share their own experiences and engage with the IB community, colleagues, and exhibitors worldwide. The conference included an extensive line-up of inspirational speakers on the topics of technology and innovation, inclusive education and wellbeing, lifelong learning and leadership, staff and peer-to-peer breakout sessions and networking opportunities. Participants also had the chance to attend over 95 insightful sessions to gain new perspectives on teaching practices and updates to IB programmes.

In his welcome remarks, the IB’s Director General, Olli-Pekka Heinonen addressed attendees saying, “As a global community, it is so important that we are all involved in these conversations. Not just around diversity, equity and inclusion. But also, in seeking answers to the questions raised by the use of new technologies and of course the importance of sustainability and how all of this can contribute to brighter futures.”

Simultaneously, the IB Heads World Conference featured IB leadership workshops, led by experienced IB World School leaders and members of the IB Educator Network (IBEN) which provided practical skills and approaches to develop, apply, challenge, and refine leadership capabilities. Experts shared the latest trends in international education, new approaches to teaching and learning, professional applications, scholarly analyses, best practices, and case studies, allowing educators to expand their professional development, and encouraging them to explore new approaches in the classroom.

The IB believes that technology will reshape education, requiring students to adapt on a consistent basis. In response to this global call to action, the IB invited leaders who are helping to reformulate a new educational paradigm to the IB’s first-of-its-kind Global Leadership Roundtable which took place during the conference, to explore how education can transform lives and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Participants included representatives from Ireland's higher education sector, school heads, and experts in innovative technologies such as Google Education and Minecraft.  

During the general session, Olli-Pekka Heinonen discussed the importance of the IB’s Festival of Hope, an initiative that creates spaces for young people to express themselves and engage in critical discussions about the most challenging issues they face today. As part of this initiative, the Global Youth Action Fund fosters independent autonomous learning by nurturing future leaders and changemakers to turn complex challenges into opportunities of positivity, hope and action. Awardees and diverse student voices were invited to the IB Global Conference to share about their projects and talk about the importance of creating opportunities for young people to come together to inspire critical discourse and action.

During the opening session, James Nottingham, creator of The Learning Pit, highlighted how students can succeed by taking more risks with their education, developing the resilience to overcome challenges and embracing learning from mistakes. “Success is not straightforward. As soon as you step outside your comfort zone, your performance dips. But overcoming challenges is more satisfying than trying something that’s easy.”

During the four days of the conference, a diverse line-up of powerful keynote speakers shared their invaluable insights and experiences with the shared aim to redefine the future of education. Wandile Mthiyane, Founder of The Anti-Racist Hotdog, gave a rousing keynote speech on the importance of inclusivity in our school communities at the closing session of the conference. “We have all grown up with biases. Being biased is human, but challenging your biases makes you a good person. We need to be able to assess where we are today to be able to create more inclusive school cultures.”

Sustainability is a key focus of the IB Global Conferences. The IB recognizes the urgency of addressing the climate crisis and is actively taking steps to reduce its environmental impact, by incorporating sustainable practices including green transportation, a sustainable conference venue, locally sourced food, reusable materials and eco-friendly printing and production.