Well, the ashcloud behaved itself and so I was able to fly down here to Florence yesterday afternoon in time for the final preparations for the President’s Biennial Conference on the theme of Education to Combat Social Exclusion. The conference is being organised in a very appropriate place, the Istituto degli Innocenti in the Piazza della Santissima Annuziata, for long a hospital and foundlings home. Our President, Mario Sepi, has necessarily made the economic and financial crisis and its social consequences a leitmotif of his mandate and over the next three days, in workshops and plenary sessions, a series of distinguished guests, together with our members and representatives of various stakeholder organisations, will be discussing how education can best be used to avoid or diminish the scourge of social exclusion.