23 January: I email the Polish Ministry of Education contact provided by the Hungarian team. She had undertaken to organise the event when she took over responsibility in September 2011, but the Hungarians had received no further details.
23 February: A third party forwards me a copy of an email from someone at ORE, Poland’s Centre for Educational Development, responsible for teacher education and pedagogy. It says she is organising the Conference for October. (The organiser is listed on ORE’s website as Co-ordinator of a Project called ‘Designing and Implementing the System of Working with a Talented Learner’.)
1 March: The original Ministry of Education contact finally replies, pleading internal reorganisation for the delay. Responsibility has transferred to another Undersecretary of State and the Conference is to be delayed until May 2012. She hopes to pass on further information ‘in the next weeks’, but is seemingly unaware that ORE thinks it is running the event. However, the Hungarian team tell me she has also written to them confirming that ORE will co-ordinate the conference, though the contact name has still to be established. The Hungarians however, seem to know who has been given the task.
16 April: Having received no further information, I email the Ministry contact again. No reply from Poland; the Hungarian team say they are also waiting for information.
17 July: Hungary contacts me to say they heard ‘two or three weeks ago’ that the conference will take place in October but will only be an ‘unofficial follow-up’ of the Budapest event. I am asked if I have received an invitation and, on answering in the negative, the Hungarians write to a new contact at ORE suggesting that I am invited and that I might moderate a session at the Conference.
15 September: While at the ECHA Conference, I mention to the Hungarian team that I have still not received an invitation.
8 October: I tell the Hungarian team by email that I have an invitation is still not forthcoming. They repeat their previous email to the new ORE contact, adding that they received a Conference programme from the Poles some 10 days beforehand. The ORE contact writes to them saying they haven’t received any communication from me, but do not deny that they received the recommendation letter from Hungary first sent in July.
10 October: I tell the Hungarians yet again that no invitation has arrived, and that it is anyway too late as I now have other commitments which cannot be rescheduled. They explain that the new contact is simply a translator, because the organiser cannot write English. She (the organiser) probably also has limited autonomy, requiring clearance from elsewhere for all substantive decisions.
11 October: An invitation finally arrives for the event taking place eight days later. I am asked as a delegate rather than as a moderator, which mean that I have to pay for my own flights. I explain why I cannot attend, summarising the history above, adding:
‘This is unsatisfactory and ironic, since this critical initiative is all about improving communication and collaboration between all those supporting gifted education across Europe. But, as we say in England, ‘it’s no use crying over spilt milk’.
I am worried that the important proceedings of the conference will not be shared. I want to check that you have in place arrangements to publish online the English language presentations made at the conference as soon as they are given, as well as notes of the discussions, so these can be shared more widely. Please can you let me know the website where these details will appear? I can find no English language information currently.
It would also be good if you could arrange for delegates to live Tweet the proceedings – please can you advise what hashtag you will ask them to use?’
12 October: I receive an apologetic response from Poland, from the translator who explains that she became involved in the Conference in March but is not responsible for deciding who should attend. She says she passed on my name but the suggestion was not taken up. She promises to email me the material from the Conference.
22 October: There is no live Tweeting from the Conference and no further contact from Poland. I write requesting the presentations and notes of sessions and I receive a reply containing seven of the presentations/papers. Others are delayed because they have to be translated.
21 November: I write again requesting the remainder of the material. No reply.