Q&A with SET24 host, Sarah Simons

Thee wonderful Sarah Simons MSET will be returning to host our annual SET Conference. Here she tells us about her favourite memories from previous conferences, and what we can expect from SET24.

Sarah Simons

Sarah Simons

Why is it so important to have opportunities to connect with others from across the further education and skills sector (FES)?

Connecting with colleagues and pals at the SET Conference has always given me a massive motivational kick up the bum. I think it's totally normal in this sector, at every level and in every type of setting, to have periods when it's just about getting through the day and trying to stay on top of your workload without losing your marbles. But every so often it's good to have a reminder about why we do this job - all the 'making a difference' stuff - and to get excited about new pedagogical ideas, or learn about new ways to engage a group of students. 

Whether you're brand new to the sector or have been in it for decades, there's always something new to learn - I love the sense of possibility that lifelong learning gives. Actually, the more I learn, the more I realise there's so much more to learn

Do you have a favourite memory that stands out from previous SET conferences you’ve hosted?

It was a real adventure hosting the completely online version during the pandemic days. There was a huge audience, and I was doing lots of live links and introductions, but because I was at home with a cuppa and my dogs wandering about, I had to really concentrate not to go off topic and get too relaxed. I hope I didn't accidentally do a monologue about my Tesco shop or what I was watching on Netflix at the time.


What do you hope delegates will gain from attending the SET24 conference?

For me, attending the SET conferences and meeting loads of brilliant people from all over the sector and all over the country, has always given me such reassurance that whatever challenges I'm experiencing in my day to day working life, that I'm not alone. 

And it's not just the realisation that some of the really difficult stuff in this profession is universal, whether that's (over)workload, student issues or expectations from leadership, it's the idea that we have a better chance of finding ways to manage all of that when we're together, sharing ideas and looking at how to change things for the better. 


What are you most looking forward to, personally, about the conference?

It's always such a treat to see pals in real life - both ones I've recently met on social media and lovely people I've known for years. The SET Conference is a brilliant opportunity to reconnect, catch up and strengthen those relationships. I love it.  

SET24 - Annual SET Conference logo

Coming up... SET Conference 2024: SET24

Join us on 16 January 2024 for the annual SET Conference, returning to The Vox Conference Centre, Birmingham.

Learn more and book your place now!