One of the ways a charity can punch above its weight at the party conferences is go to lots of fringe meeting and ask a question to the speakers at the end. It gets you noticed and gets you attention as a player in the game. It also means people know who you are afterwards, and can lead to all sorts of new connections. This is advice that our Director of Policy and Campaigns has been taking up at virtually every single opportunity throughout the party conference. And today, in a very interesting fringe meeting hosted by RNID, Treehouse and NUT on special educational needs and inclusion, he took the opportunity to ask about the tension between national standards and local autonomy. In other words, people often talk about the importance of delegating funding and decisions to schools – but does this make it more difficult to ensure that deaf children still get the support they need and expect across the UK? It’s a good question, and triggered an interesting debate and, I suspect, some thought-provoking, in the audience.
Apart from lots of fringe meetings, we’ve also met with a few MPs, either pre-arranged or we’ve grabbed them as they passed by. As with the other party conferences, all MPs have been supportive of our aims to ensure the best possible start for every deaf child and keen to help in whatever way they can. One MP seemed keen to start hosting parliamentary meetings on our behalf which was a very welcome suggestion.
But our time at the party conference is now pretty much over. We head back to London tomorrow to start all the follow ups and all the thank you letters for everyone we met with, importantly, details for them of what practical things they can do to support us. I, for one, am absolutely knackered. One party conference is tiring. Three in a row is exhausting. So whilst its been fun, I’m more than happy to be returning to my bed back in my flat. Once I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I’ll be doing a post mortem of the past few weeks and a summary of what we’ve achieved. And asking the question whether our near-exhaustion was worth it.
Oh, and I’ll also be doing an in-depth comprehensive analysis of the freebies on offer. Don’t miss it.