Pearson Edexcel, University of Nottingham and Gateway Graduate School have come together to host an International Forum for Teachers (IFT). This conference, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, will be held annually for all teachers.

The theme of the inaugural conference will focus on the teacher’s impact on the students’ lives both in and out of the classroom.


Message from The Minister Of Education

Hon. Akila Viraj Kariyawasam

Continued professional development in teachers is felt as never before with the fast changing modern technology. Therefore, it is imperative that our teachers keep up-to-date of the developments of education and be proficient in the skills that are required to teach in the 21st century.

In this regard, I am very happy to see the private sector taking an initiative to organize teacher development programmes which are open to teachers of all levels in all schools.

The theme of this inaugural workshop – ‘Teacher – The Life Changer’ –is very appropriate and inspiring, as teachers have tremendous influence over students’ lives both in and out of classrooms. I am also happy to see a highly qualified and experienced panel of speakers, both Sri Lankan and International, providing their insight and experience to our teachers.

I congratulate the organizing committee of IFT for taking this much needed initiative and wish the very best to all teachers for them to be role models to our students.

Professor Christine Ennew

Provost and CEO of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Nottingham.

It is my great pleasure to welcome you for the inaugural International Forum for Teachers on the theme of “Teacher – the Life Changer”, jointly organised by University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and Gateway Graduate School, Sri Lanka. Ours is a partnership that has pioneered a range of initiatives in the field of education including the creating of new pathways to higher education and innovative models for postgraduate programmes delivered in Sri Lanka. Our partnership has always had a strong focus in the area of education and this forum is a very welcome development.

Education has a truly transformational role. Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" but education would be nothing without educators, without teachers. Educators will take learners from every walk of life, they will identify their potential and nurture them to achieve the best they are capable of. Without good teachers, few of us would be where we are today. And of course one of the most exciting aspect of being an educator is enjoying the success of those you have nurtured.

Andy Moss

SVP, UK Higher Education & International Qualifications, Pearson

I’m very pleased and proud that Pearson Edexcel have joined together with the University of Nottingham and Gateway Graduate School to stage this inaugural International Forum for Teachers – a one-of-a-kind conference in Sri Lanka - under the theme of ‘Teacher – The Life Changer’. Teachers are at the heart of our education system, enabling learners to progress and fulfill their potential; whether that’s entering the world of work or securing a place at university. To do this effectively, those same teachers need development, support and access to the latest innovations in teaching and learning.

And the International Forum for Teachers is a great way to do just that, giving teachers across the region an opportunity to engage with their peers and discuss what’s working, what isn’t and how they can collectively improve. At Pearson, we believe that wherever learning flourishes, so do people. So I’d like to wish you a very successful conference – I trust that you will truly value this event, and will look forward to it annually

Mrs. Nelum Senadira

Head, Gateway Graduate School

Education today is constantly changing and evolving. To keep up with this change, it is essential that the teacher has an open mind and seeks continuous professional development, acquiring new knowledge and skills that relate to the teaching profession, job responsibilities and work environment. It is essential to seize every opportunity to network and exchange best practices and understand the changing features of school education around the world.

Therefore it is critical to pay close attention to how we train and support the teaching community. The International Forum of Teachers, with its pioneering event, seeks to set new standards for professional development of teachers. My sincere thanks go to the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) and Pearson Edexcel for joining us in this very important initiative.


Prof. Dr. Ganakumaran Subramaniam

Head of School, School of Education
University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

Ganakumaran Subramaniam holds a B.Ed. from Universiti Putra Malaysia. He read for his Masters of Arts and Ph.D. in the University of Nottingham, UK. He is a Fulbright Scholar. Currently he is the Head of School and Professor at the School of Education, University of Nottingham, Malaysia campus. He is the President of the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association and Vice President of AsiaTEF

Assessing 21st Century Competencies: Some critical considerations
Changing demands of the workforce market have deemed it necessary for education institutions to improvise education systems and practices in order to strengthen human capital development. This is primarily to ensure that the schooled are not only able to meet current workplace requirements but also possess the literacies to be adaptable and innovative for 21st century in jobs or careers that we cannot even imagine right now. Assessments whether formal, standardised, informal and context specific are relevant to ascertain effective teaching and learning. Good assessments can provide a reliable and valid measure of a student’s learning and understanding, and guide both teachers and students to make adjustments and changes to the teaching and learning process. As the goals of education change, education institutions are increasingly expected to produce students with skills amongst others communication, ICT, critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork, lifelong learning, information management, entrepreneurship, moral and professional ethics; and leadership skills. This session will focus on discussing the relevance and manner in which key 21st century literacies can be assessed. It highlights critical issues related to alternative approaches to assessment to gain insights to the acquisition and application of 21st century literacies.

Ms. Clare Gordon Buntic

International Education Consultant
Pearson Edexcel

Clare Buntic is an education consultant specialising in teacher learning and professional development, school improvement, organizational capacity building, leadership learning, and leading curriculum change in schools. Clare is completing her doctorate on international education policy and national identity formation and has an M.Litt. from Oxford University for her examination of the policy promoting research and evidence based practice in teaching.

The future in their hands: developing competencies for 21st century learners

This session will share a practical, impactful and research-based student competency framework designed to nurture student talent and competencies across all phases. The emphasis of the session will be to show the benefits to students, and how competency frameworks can motivate students to learn. The session will show how the approach benefits teachers, and how all teachers can harness and integrate approaches to their everyday practice.
Teachers are life changers; the session will show that developing learner competencies is critical because the approach:

  • has moral, educational and economic value
  • is immediate and practical
  • helps teachers develop professionally
  • prepares students better their future
  • helps improve student engagement, behaviour and achievement across a range of curricula
  • supports and enhances current assessment and examination requirements
Mr. Hans Billimoria

The Grassrooted Trust
Sri Lanka

Hans Billimoria is a Director at 'The Grassrooted Trust' that works on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education, gender based and intimate partner violence. He is a member of the National Task Force on Cyber Exploitation & Violence set up by the National Child Protection Authority in 2015. Hans has a BA in Psychology & Philosophy from Madras Christian College and a MPhil in Philosophy from the University of Dundee.

Sensible & Responsible Learning - Keeping our children safe online
Since May 2015, The Grassrooted Trust, together with the National Child Protection Authority, and other relevant agencies, including the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, has been responding to cyber exploitation faced by our young people in Sri Lanka. Both victims and perpetrators of this form peer to peer violence online are as young as fourteen, and reports also include online exploitation of adults via social media applications. Grassrooted will present findings on motivations for this peer to peer violence, discuss how social media applications need to be understood and managed, and also underpin that it is “relationships” that is at the core of this latest avatar of gender based and intimate partner violence. We will discuss the need for an evolving response; which must necessarily include young people, parents/guardians, and those of us who identify as teachers and educators. This response, we believe must be governed by what UNESCO terms “scientifically accurate, realistic, non-judgmental information” coupled with a sensible, non-sensationalist approach on our part as teachers and educators that would encourage young people in our charge to conduct themselves responsibly on and offline.

Asst. Prof. Philip Whitehead

School of Education
University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

Phil Whitehead is currently an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership and Management at the University of Nottingham Malaysian Campus. He is a trained teacher with over forty years' experience in education, training and research. He has worked in four FE colleges leading on Staff Development and ITE, and with the Open University and five UK universities.

The need to ‘Stop and Think”: Being a teacher in times of change
Continuous professional development (CPD) and professional learning for staff have been identified as one of the key factors in school improvement. CPD is crucial to the ways in which effective organisation and individual practitioners perform, and consequently opportunities for organisations and individuals to reflect on their learning needs are essential in an ever-changing educational landscape. This paper will explore some of the issues relating to professional learning journeys and professional identities at different stages in those journeys, and the types of support such as coaching and mentoring that are used in CPD. A specific focus will be on new entrants to the profession and the challenges that they face as ‘beginner teachers’. A case-study of the author’s experience as a Programme Director with the Teach First programme in the UK will be offered and the ‘lesson learned’ during this three-year engagement will be discussed. Delegates will be encouraged to reflect on their own experiences as developing teachers at different stages of their careers, and to consider the importance of cross-contextual issues so that opportunities for learning from one another are available. Finally, the value of improving professional learning through in-house inquiry will be explored through a number of case-studies.

Expert Panelists

“Teaching 21st Century Learners: Issues and Considerations”

Prof. Som Naidu

Monash University, Australia

Focus: Innovation in teaching and learning

Currently at Monash University, most recently Dr. Naidu served as Associate Professor (Learning Transformations) at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. Dr. Naidu possesses undergraduate qualifications in Education (curriculum and instruction) from the University of Waikato in New Zealand and graduate qualifications in Distance Education and in Educational Technology from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

Prof. Piyanjali de Zoysa

University of Colombo

Focus: Kindness - A key requite for a teacher

Piyanjali de Zoysa, is a Professor in Clinical Psychology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. She obtained her Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Delhi and her Ph.D. from the University of Colombo. She has held several key positions in national level organizations such as the Sri Lanka Psychological Association, National Child Protection Authority, National Steering Committee on Child Rights and the Ranviru Surekum Ekakaya.

Prof. Shironica P. Karunanayaka

The Open University of Sri Lanka

Focus: Open Educational Resources and Open Educational Practices

Shironica Karunanayaka is a Professor in Educational Technology at the Open University of Sri Lanka. She was the Dean of the Faculty of Education from 2012 to 2015, and the Head of the Department of Secondary and Tertiary Education from 2006 to 2012. Prof. Karunanayaka read for her EdD in the University of Wollongong, Australia, specializing in Information Technology in Education and Training.