Last April the 23rd 2024, the annual ELNE Conference took place in Brussels, Belgium, gathering practitioners, educators and learners from all over Europe to discuss the future of education in this annual event.

The conference consisted of plenary discussions, interactive workshops and brainstorming under the theme of collaborative leadership. The discussions focused on what it means, both practically and theoretically, and while finding a definition for such a term was not easy, it made for a really fun workshop. Plenty Of information was exchanged during the plenary discussions, where the audience was able to interact with professionals in education from different parts of Europe and learn about their practices. Teachers, teachers’ union representatives, education employers, practitioners, researchers and one upper-secondary school students put their knowledge into practice in an educational challenges’ simulation and had the opportunity to exchange ideas and get different perspectives based on the participants’ experiences. 

Many studies were presented about the current state of education and what can be done to enhance learning for young people and children. In this regard, it was discussed how to create a connection between research and practice in order to make an impact locally and nationally. ELNE presented itself as a tool to help create these connections, since it works as a network between researchers and teachers. With a broad representation of ministers from Cyprus, teachers from Finland and leaders from Ireland, this goal was reached. 

The conference ended with volunteers sharing their collaborative leadership tokens, which could be anything, from a blue COVID-19 protection mask to embroidery. Considering the theme and discussion topics of the conference, I would have loved to see more young people there, and especially students. A lot of the discussions that concerned young people could have used more and better insight from them, however, the student representation was limited. Nevertheless, the participation and acknowledgement of students at the conference shows the interest in matters that concern us and will show up to events where we are being discussed. Therefore, I hope to see more student representatives at future events hosted by the ELNE!