The McWhirter Foundation - Dicey Conference 2012
(Charity Number 270695)
A short report for sponsors by the Director
Through its annual Dicey Conference, the Foundation generates debate amongst sixth formers drawn from both state and independent schools. Each year, a particular issue of moral, legal or social significance, which explores the importance of good citizenship and individual freedom within the Rule of Law, is selected for discussion. More than 2,500 delegates have now attended these conferences which have been described as 'one of the most valuable educational experiences available to students today.' (Hon Michael Beloff QC, Former President of Trinity College Oxford).
The purpose of the Conference is stated, somewhat more specifically, in the Foundation's Trust Deed as the achievement of 'mental and moral improvement of the public in the principles and practice of good citizenship and in particular ... the exercise of personal initiative and leadership ...' The Foundation seeks to inspire delegates to the Conference subsequently to contribute to society by way of some form of participation in public life.
The Conference was held at Trinity College, Oxford on 13th and 14th March. Eighty-seven delegates from forty schools attended. This year we again came close to achieving a long held target of an even split amongst delegates with 50% attending from both the state and independent sectors.
The chosen topic for discussion was;
'How is technology changing the relationship between the state and the individual?'
The programme consisted of tours of Trinity College, lectures, discussions in syndicate, a plenary forum and a traditional college dinner. This year, we were privileged to host the following guest lecturers;
David Aaronovitch - author, broadcaster and journalist.
Dr David Cleevely - entrepreneur and telecoms expert.
Aileen Thompson - Director of Corporate Communications, Vodafone.
Claire Enders - founder of one of the UK's leading independent research companies.
Mr Graham Durgan, who chaired the conference, spoke after dinner on the theme of 'Getting on with Life'.
There were eight syndicate leaders (three of whom are trustees of the Foundation) drawn from educational, business, legal and training backgrounds.
The Conference was an undoubted success;
We received superb support from Trinity College, Oxford.
The format has evolved over the years and needs only occasional fine-tuning.
The speakers were highly acclaimed and thought provoking.
Discussion in syndicates was of a very high standard.
The college dinner, which was enjoyed by all, was a tremendous success.
Did the Conference achieve its purpose?
At the end of the two days, delegates were asked to submit comments with the emphasis on constructive criticism for the future. In less than 24 hours since the conference ended, many comments have already been received from schools and delegates, including:
'X and Y have just returned from the conference absolutely buzzing - they have had a wonderful experience ... X really wants to apply to Oxford now'. (Head of Sixth at a public school).
'Two days of dreams'. (This generous comment was from a 17 year old from one of the world's current major trouble spots who has only lived in the UK for a year and who attends an Academy. An exaggeration perhaps but sincerely meant and therefore genuinely accepted).
'... a great 2 days that I will remember for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and found the lecturers fantastic. They were truly inspiring people. The facilities were outstanding, particularly the catering. The formal meal was the highlight of the conference....I'd like to become a Friend of the Foundation.' (A sixth former. One of twins who attended from a specialist sports and humanities college).
A personal comment from the Foundations' Director
This was my second Dicey Conference as Director of the Foundation. It exceeded my expectations. The delegates were of a very high calibre, unfailingly appreciative, cooperative, courteous and good company. They played a full part in the conference, benefited from it and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Organising it was quite hard work but it was worth every bit of the effort expended. I felt energised after two days working with such an able group of sixth formers.
It took me a little while to realise why the Conference was so successful and I think that was because delegates;
Extracted the maximum benefit from their stay at Trinity College
And throughout, enjoyed it and had a lot of fun!
Many people, too numerous to mention here, contributed to the Dicey Conference and made it the success it was. However, the Conference could not have happened without the generous support offered by our sponsors. On behalf of the Foundation Trustees, I wish to thank all who assisted us in this way. More importantly, there are eighty-seven sixth formers who valued attending the Dicey Conference and who have gained and benefited from the experience. Thank you again.
I confirm that all grants received were used exclusively as outlined in our applications and that moneys received were fully expended on the Dicey Conference.
15th March 2012