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Schools of the Future Conference

Schools of the Future

Work alongside world class innovators: leading, provoking, and responding to your ideas. 

At Sydney Opera House

The challenges the education sector face are well known.

International studies and local stories articulate this almost daily.  This conference, curated by a panel of education experts, has been designed to examine what places of learning should look like in the future. How do learning spaces, pedagogies, technologies and organisational structures need to adapt to equip students for our future world?

The Schools of the Future Conference  will involve participants in two days of interactive learning to develop project ideas in response to a key problem. Keynote speakers will present ideas that are based on evidence, experience and innovation that is happening now, both locally and internationally. Interrogate, discuss and examine these ideas with the support of peers and industry experts.

The aim of the conference is for participants to take ideas back to schools and be inspired to innovate and implement change with school leaders, teachers, students and parents. Come as a group ready to explore and spark change!

Presented by Sydney Opera House and Adobe 

Conference Speakers

Conference Program

Friday 5 May


Registration opens


Keynote Event

Includes tea / coffee break

Valerie Hannon (Innovation Unit, UK) & Kevin Brookhouser (The 20time project, USA) will present inspiring key note addresses. Stephen Harris (Principal, Northern Beaches Christian School) will respond and provoke discussion from a local perspective. 

Valerie Hannon: Making Schools of the Future fit for purpose: but what purpose?

Participants will be asked to consider whether the ‘purpose’ of schools in the future is clear? The learning conditions of this century are vastly different to those of the last, and will continue to evolve. We cannot assume that the existing purposes of educational institutions are adequate or sufficient for modern students. We need to reconsider the role of schools in society and ask ourselves what we need them to become. Valerie Hannon will argue for a fresh debate about the purposes of contemporary schools and a new public narrative to guide the changes which are needed.

Kevin Brookhouser: The 20time Project

Drawing inspiration from global companies like Google, 3M, and Adobe, who offer employees time to work on a project of their choosing, Kevin Brookhouser will outline how to employ The 20time Project in classrooms. Aiming to create powerful experiences that lead to increased motivation, creativity and critical thinking for students, Kevin will unpack how to incorporate the program across primary and high school. He will include guidance on how to effectively communicate the rationale of the program to administrators, parents, and students, and how to execute the program so students are able to manage their time effectively for a successful final project.


Session 1: Focus Question

Delegates will be placed in groups or sit with members of their school community. Each group will develop a focus question or problem which will be used as impetus for the project design sessions throughout the conference.




Session 2: Project design

Stephen Harris will present about his widely acclaimed successes at Northern Beaches Christian School, followed by Q&A and time to develop project in groups. 


Afternoon Tea


Session 3: Technology

Led by Dr Tim Kitchen (Senior Education Specialist, Adobe APAC), this session will explore creative technology solutions which are enabling schools to be more innovative and contemporary in the way they communicate. Each group then thinks about and discusses the application of technology in their project. 


Day 1 finish

Saturday 6 May


Registration opens


Keynote Address

Mark Henley (Director of Transformation and Digital Strategy, Adobe APAC) & Kathleen Donohoe (Director, Futures Learning Unit, NSW DoE), followed by a panel discussion. 


Morning Tea


Session 4: Space Design 

Led by Stephen Harris, this session will explore best practice in contemporary classroom design. Each group then feeds thinking from this session into their projects.




Session 5: Pedagogy

Led by Kevin Brookhouser, this session explores best-practice contemporary pedagogy. Each group then feeds the information from this session into their projects.


Afternoon Tea


Session 6: Leadership

Led by Valerie Hannon, this session will explore leadership, organisational culture and supporting change with the right management structures. Each group then feeds thinking from this session into their projects.


Project Presentations 

In a facilitated session, groups will have the opportunity to present about their projects. Judith McLean along with keynote speakers will provoke and challenge participants to bring their projects to fruition  back in their schools.


Conference close and drinks

"Schools must embrace a new paradigm and move away from what was once thought of as 'school'. This new paradigm is one where learning is personalized and collaborative, technology is adaptive, spaces are radically different, and a community built on positive relationships is at the core. Teaching and learning culture must be informed by global trends, expectations, perceptions, technology and organizational structures in the 21st century."

Stephen Harris
Principal, Northern Beaches Christian School

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