London Festival of Education 2015: The conference that thinks it's a rock show

If the first festival in 2012 is anything to go by - this weekend's will be a sell-out

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The Independent Online

Chris Husbands has high ambitions for the festival that London University's Institute of Education is hosting this weekend.

"We want this to be seen as part and parcel of the education scene, in the same way that Edinburgh is for the arts and Glastonbury is for music," he says in advance of the event.

I call it an event because it is more than just a conference and – if the first London Festival of Education in 2012 is anything to go by – this weekend's will be a sell-out.

OK, it has the traditional features of an education conference – with contributions from Government minister Sam Gyimah and Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt – but there are also screenings of the documentary Irons in the Fire, a contribution from Brit-Award nominee George the Poet and appearances by TV "celebrities" Jenny Smith of Educating the East End and Vic Goddard of Educating Essex.

"Having talked to people in the business, it's been a bit like rock concerts," says Professor Husbands. "Ticket sales are slow at first but then really take off in the last couple of weeks."

There is, of course, a gap in the market for education conferences: this year saw the last North of England Education conference, which for decades was viewed as a scene-setter for what is going on in education. (Though I bemoaned its passing, it was cancelled, essentially, because of lack of interest: a bad precedent, I thought, in an election year.)

"This is essentially a London festival of education, but at the first one we attracted people from all over the UK," says Husbands. This year, it will have more than 200 contributors and is jointly sponsored by the TES.

With any luck, Saturday's event will appeal to a wider audience and give impetus to the election debate.