Inspiring Leadership
Conference 2017

7 – 9 June ICC, Birmingham


Masterclasses and Workshops

Take a look below at our diverse, carefully selected programme of masterclasses and workshops. Delivered by those who know their subject matter well; they are brought to you under one roof so you can identify the issues that are challenging you most right now, and get their input, their thinking and their know-how for you to take back fresh ideas to implement in your school.

The one thing that you will struggle with is making a choice from the range on offer - so why not join up with other delegates and arrange to 'share notes' afterwards? 

We can't think of another conference like it, can you? (If so, tell us and we'll work on that...)

Downloadable Versions

Masterclass Programme Workshop Programme

View our overall conference programme here.

Thursday 8 June  

Masterclasses:      11.45am – 12.45pm

Five top tips from ‘top performing’ education systems

Lucy spent a month in schools in six different education systems that do well in the international PISA tests. Here she gets practical to bring you five ‘top tips’ that you might implement in your own schools, while touching on some of the underlying educational philosophies that enable these systems’ successes.


Lucy Crehan  - Masterclass Speaker Lucy Crehan, International education consultant and author of Cleverlands


Sticking up for social mobility at your school

Social mobility has been made the number one priority for the new Education Secretary, putting students with the greatest need first. Surely everyone supports this?  As school leaders you will need to sell your vision for social mobility to parents, staff and stakeholders. But often the self-interest of these groups may actually make it easier not to put social mobility at the fore. And it’s not always the easiest, nor fastest, way to deliver results for your school. Hear from three leading proponents of social mobility in education on why this remains the most important agenda for schools, and gain practical tips on how you can build the support you need to deliver for the students facing the greatest challenge.


Brett Wigdortz - Masterclass speaker Brett Wigdortz,  Founder and CEO, Teach First

 Laura McInerney,  Editor, Schools Week

Jonathan Simons- Masterclass speaker Jonathan Simons,  Director of Policy and Advocacy, Varkey Foundation 


Optimistic Leadership in Times of Uncertainty

This session will cover:

  • Telling the story of your school
  • Sticking to your principles and values
  • Playing a community leadership role
  • Managing your own wellbeing


Russell Hobby - Masterclass speaker Russell Hobby,  General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers

Geoff Barton - Masterclass Speaker Geoff Barton,  General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders


Masterclasses:      1.45pm – 2.45pm

Steering a steady course through the choppy waters of education policy

In this session, John Dunford will set out the opportunities for school leaders to take, and maintain, the initiative in all the critical areas of policy development and school improvement, keeping control of the direction of the school in a turbulent national climate. 

Building on the themes in his book, The School Leadership Journey (published November 2016), John will lead a discussion on how to make the most of the opportunities for proactive values-led curriculum development and high-quality assessment. He will also make the case for taking greater ownership of accountability, professional development and school collaboration, as well as using the autonomy given to schools to use pupil premium in the best way for their particular circumstances.


Lucy Crehan  - Masterclass Speaker Sir John Dunford, Education consultant, chair of Whole Education, trustee of the Learn  Academies Trust in south Leicestershire and chair of the South Gloucestershire Education  Partnership.


What do inspectors think they are looking for? What can they really see in schools?

In this session Sean Harford will talk about what inspectors are, and aren’t, looking for during an inspection. He will describe how data is used by inspectors and how it shapes the judgements that are made on schools. In response, Becky Allen will describe what she thinks inspectors actually see when they visit schools and will talk about whether research evidence supports the types of observations and practices that take place during an inspection.


Brett Wigdortz - Masterclass speaker Sean Harford,  HMI National Director, Education, Ofsted

 Dr Rebecca Allen,  Director of Education Datalab


Chaired by:

Ed Dorrell - Masterclass speaker

 Ed Dorrell,  Head of Content, TES 


Understanding Leadership

Are current leadership roles and relationships appropriate in a rapidly changing world? Do we need to rethink key assumptions about leaders and leadership? Are you confident about the appropriateness and effectiveness of your chosen leadership styles and behaviours? These are questions facing leaders today and 'Understanding Leadership' by Libby Nicholas can help find the approach that is neither normative nor prescriptive but rather exploratory and developmental.


Libby Nicholas - Masterclass speaker Libby Nicholas, CEO Astrea Academy Trust


Workshops:      11.30am – 12.30pm

Effective Use of Teaching Assistants - A Senior Leadership Responsibility

The session will aim to explore significant research on the impact and use of Teaching Assistants and encourage delegates to begin to apply key messages to strategic thinking about their settings. 

Delegates will hear about:

  • The role of senior leaders in affecting change. 
  • The ‘journey’ that Maria’s school has taken to further develop the role of teaching assistants and how she has shared this beyond her setting. 
  • How TA Standards could be used as a framework for the ongoing development of the TA role. 
  • Current challenges to high impact deployment.
  • The demystification of what effective use of TAs in the classroom looks like.  
  • Practical strategies that contribute to improved pupil outcomes.


Maria Constantinou  - Workshop speaker Maria Constantinou, Associate Headteacher and Inclusion Leader


Ethical Leadership: what kind of people are we?

Carolyn is ASCL’s Honorary Secretary and an occasional columnist for the Sunday Times and Schools Week. She is co-author of Knowledge and the Future School (Bloomsbury 2014) and has a particular interest in the purpose of schools and how school leaders behave.

Carolyn worries about rights, duties, responsibilities and expectations for headteachers. What do we stand for? How should we behave? What matters to us? What should the taxpayer expect from us? How do we really hold each other to account? Headteacher standards set out the skills and capacities required for this most responsible of jobs. Tasks assume motivations, however, and we would benefit from a wider debate on how and why we work, as well as what we do. How do we model good in the communities of large and small humans with whom we work? Should we?

This discussion-based workshop will be part of ASCL’s aim to set out and develop a set of Ethical Leadership Principles for school leaders before March 2018. 


Carolyn Roberts - Workshop speaker Carolyn Roberts,  Headteacher, Thomas Tallis School Greenwich


Educate & Celebrate – How to transform your school into an LGBT+ Friendly place 

The interactive session takes delegates on the journey to LGBT+Inclusion, developing confidence and strategies to take a whole school approach, focusing on the core areas Training, Policy, Curriculum, Environment and Community which can be implemented the very next day. 

The practical and teacher-friendly training is designed to give you the confidence to lead the initiative within your own school, underpinned with books, lesson plans, posters, songs, teaching pedagogies, impact day activities, example policies and an action plan.

Delegates will explore methods to eradicate heteronormativity and encourage an intersectional way of teaching, using the pedagogy of 'Usualising' to develop a curriculum where social justice is paramount fulfilling government and school policies including Ofsted criteria, The Equality Act 2010, Inclusion, Equal Opportunities, Anti-bullying and SRE policies.  


Dr Elly Barnes - Workshop speaker Dr Elly Barnes MBE,  CEO and founder of Educate & Celebrate


Tribal Business School: lessons from the edge

Tribal Business School explores the ultimate lessons in survival and success from the great survivors: tribes and traditional societies which have lasted far longer, with far fewer resources and in much harsher conditions than most modern organisations.

Based on original research with tribes from Mali to Mongolia, the Arctic to Australia to Papua New Guinea and beyond, this is an inspirational session to help you see your challenges from a new perspective. The session explores:

  • Leadership: discover the real nature of leadership, once you strip away all the support and control systems which enable and imprison us today: courage, contribution and responsibility. 
  • Change: change or die. Change is the essence of survival
  • Culture: putting the community first. Focus on what you give, not what you take.

There are no bullet points in this session: inspiring pictures and stories which are consistently related back to the reality of first world leadership.


Jo Owen - Workshop speaker Jo Owen,  founder The Leadership Partnership, author and coach


Harnessing advanced technology to make a difference to learners

In this two-part talk, Priya Lakhani and Alice Little will discuss how to harness cutting-edge artificial intelligence, data science and cognitive science to drive improvements in learning and teaching.

Priya will talk about using real-time data to improve teaching:

  • To inform interventions
  • To help with lesson planning
  • To personalise education for every student

Alice will discuss how cognitive neuroscience can improve learning:

  • Spaced learning to improve memory
  • Active retrieval practice to improve learning
  • Growth mindset in practice


Priya Lakhani - Masterclass speaker Priya Lakhani,  Founder / CEO Century TECH

Alice Little - Workshop Speaker Alice Little,  Cognitive Neuroscientist, CENTURY Tech


Inspiring Leadership: Scotland's journey

Improving education is high on the policy agenda in Scotland, with teacher professionalism, professional learning and leadership seen as key drivers in achieving this.

This session will outline the educational landscape in Scotland, highlighting the work under way to raise attainment - interrupting the cycle of deprivation and its impact on children’s progress. We will also explore how the system is working collectively to bring coherence to professional learning and educational leadership, at all levels in the system, and focus on the role that the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL), working with partners, has in achieving this.

Participants attending the session will have the opportunity to hear about developments in Scotland, to engage in a question and answer session, and to compare practices with developments in England and beyond.


Gillian Hamilton - Workshop speaker Gillian Hamilton, CEO, Scottish College for Education Leadership

Graeme Logan - Workshop Speaker Graeme Logan,  Strategic Director, Education Scotland


Successful leadership in a complex system: findings from a three-year study of England’s ‘self-improving system’ and other related research and development studies

How do leaders navigate change and lead successful partnerships in England’s ‘self-improving school-led system’?  What does research and emerging practice tell us about successful leadership in Multi-Academy Trusts?  

This interactive session will share the findings from a three-year study led by Toby Greany and funded by the Nuffield Foundation and Education Development Trust which has explored the ways in which leaders are responding to changes such as academisation and the push for increased collaboration and school to school support through Teaching School Alliances and MATs. The study has included detailed case studies of almost 50 schools in four localities as well as a survey of almost 700 head teachers and statistical analysis of MATs and Ofsted results.  Toby will also draw on his report on TIMSS 2015 for the Department for Education and his work leading the Trust:ED MAT Team Leadership Programme in partnership with Deloitte to draw out practical implications for leaders.


Toby Greany - Workshop speaker Toby Greany,  Professor of Leadership and Innovation, UCL Institute of Education


Sponsor Seminars:      11.30am – 12.30pm

Who’d be a headteacher in 2017? 3 big hurdles and how to jump them

Fergal Roche, CEO of The Key, explores the greatest challenges facing school leaders today, and the possible opportunities there are to do things differently.

There is no doubt that these are challenging times to be a school leader – while society appears to be demanding ever more from schools, funding is reportedly falling for the first time in 20 years.

School leaders tell The Key that the perception of the profession is at a five-year low and yet an overwhelming number maintain they love their job and couldn’t possibly imagine doing anything else. How can the sector build a more positive profile and keep attracting the most talented recruits?

Fergal will lead discussion on the 3 biggest issues facing school leaders, from budget squeezes to keeping staff motivated. He’ll also debate the possible solutions and practical ideas to help the profession and the pupils it serves to thrive.


Fergal Roche - Sponsor Session Speaker Fergal Roche,  Chief Executive, The Key

Caroline Doherty - Workshop Speaker Caroline Doherty,  External Relations Manager, The Key


Workshops:      1.45pm – 2.45pm

What works in careers and enterprise - and how to do it  

This session will look at:

  • The evidence around what works in careers and enterprise, using Gatsby Foundation research by Sir John Holman and research by Dr Anthony Mann. Specifically, why young people need:
  • Encounters with employers (at least 4)
  • Information about how the curriculum links to careers
  • A personal plan based on their own strengths and passions
  • How schools and colleges are applying this in practice and using it to drive whole school improvement
  • What the Careers and Enterprise Company is doing to help including:
  • Diagnostic and planning tools
  • Local Coordinators to bridge to employers
  • Funding for great programmes

Takeaways will be:

  • 5 things all schools and colleges should do to deliver great careers and enterprise
  • Resources available from The Careers & Enterprise Company

The Careers and Enterprise Company is focused on 'test and learn' so we will also seek input from schools and colleges on what they think works and how we should adjust our approach.


Claudia Harris- Workshop speaker Claudia Harris,  CEO, The Careers & Enterprise Company


The mindset of the leader 

Explore the seven mindsets that the most successful leaders in business and education have in common. Based on original research published in the award winning Mindset of Success, this session will show you can develop the habits of mind to help you become even more successful. You will discover that mindset is not just about growth: for the best leaders it also means high aspirations, courage, resilience, accountability, collaboration and being positive. These are common words with uncommon meaning for the best leaders. Research with leaders in education, not for profits, business, sports, Royal Marine Commandos and government shows that these habits of mind are consistent and can be learned by anyone. They are effective habits not just for you, but for your team as well. The session will conclude by exploring the dark side of the leader’s mindset, and how to manage it.


Gillian Hamilton - Workshop speaker Jo Owen,  founder The Leadership Partnership, author and coach   


Who is on your leadership team?

Hannah is the Co-Founder of #WomenEd, a grassroots gender equality movement, a DfE women leading in education coach & the programme leader for 3 of the Diversity & Equality Grants. She recently did a TED talk entitled Diverse Dreams.
“Our profession is facing a recruitment crisis. Some would challenge this & argue that it is a retention crisis. Others would argue it is a talent spotting crisis.” Hannah believes we have aspiring leaders who are not being spotted because they do not fit the traditional leadership mould. 

The session content will include, flexible roles & co-leadership opportunities, unconscious bias, the role of governors and marketing & recruitment. Session takeaways will be to:

  • Understand the context of lack of BAME educators and lack of female progression
  • Hear some testimonials from staff from our programmes and what has impacted their journey
  • Consider how to bring the values of diversity and equality to life in a school
  • Ultimately to retain high potentials and change the face of leadership, including creating flexible roles and proactively recruiting diverse educators


Hannah Wilson - Workshop speaker Hannah Wilson, Headteacher, Aureus School and Regional Director of the Oxfordshire Hub for  GLF Schools 


Stepping up to Executive Headship

Executive Headship is one of the fastest growing new roles in the education landscape.  Last year, NFER, NGA and Ambition School Leadership conducted new research on the changing and growing role of Executive Headship, and this session will build on that research to examine the new behaviours, mindsets and skills that aspiring Executive Heads will need to develop to step up to the role.  We will also look at how leaders can start to develop those behaviours, mindsets and skills earlier in your career to prepare for and be ready to step up successfully.  We will also look at the difference between an Executive Headteacher and CEO to understand where the boundaries lie between the two roles.


James Toop- Workshop speaker James Toop, CEO Ambition School Leadership


The Power and the potential of peer review

This workshop will share what we at Education Development are learning about effective peer review through working in partnership with over 700 school leaders.

Within the context of a maturing and self-improving system, we will explore the significant role peer review has to play in the development of an accountability system that is characterised by professional dialogue and continuous improvement within and between schools. We will discuss the core elements of effective peer review and the skills needed to ensure it is a rigorous and robust process, leading to a change in practice and better outcomes for children and young people.  It will look at the leadership of peer review at school and cluster level and in particular will explore the culture change needed to build trust based accountability, transparency and honesty within and between clusters.

School leaders will share their experience of leading effective peer review and the impact this has had in their schools, clusters and the wider locality. Whilst not a ' mocksted ' early evidence from the SPP model shows those schools engaged in SPP improve the outcome of OFSTED inspection in their school by one or two grades faster than the national average. The workshop will see the launch of Education Development Trust’s publication ‘The Power and Potential of Peer Review’ and will be designed to enable those delegates already involved in peer review to strengthen their practice and those wanting to start a peer review process to take account of proven effective practice.


Brett Wigdortz - Masterclass speaker Maggie Farrar,  Schools Partnership Programme Project, ENGLAND

Tracy Smith- workshop speaker Tracy Smith,  Executive Head Teacher, Seven Kings School

Helen Barker - Masterclass speaker Helen Barker,  Head of KYRA Teaching School Alliance

Jim Rogers - Masterclass speaker Jim Rogers,  Director of Plymouth Teaching School Alliance


Three key teachable skills which promote good mental health in young people

Often, we only consider our mental health if and when we begin to exhibit the signs of mental illness, such as low mood or anxiety. Yet the truth is everyone has a mental health because everyone has a mind. Just as we learn to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and to take regular exercise to look after our bodies, there are equivalent things we can do to achieve mental fitness and the earlier they are learned, the better.

In this session, Grace Barrett will examine three key universal skills which promote a basic level of good mental health and high self-esteem. These are:

  • Critical Thinking (exercising the critical thinking part of the brain provides children and young people with a mental armour which can give them a better chance to navigate social media and technology safely).
  • Healthy Coping Strategies for stress
  • Emotional Literacy (with a particular focus on developing communication skills in boys).


Grace Bartlett Inspiring Leadership speaker Grace Barrett, Self Esteem Team


Keep SLT out of developing teaching and learning and watch it fly

A session on how Passmores Cooperative Learning Community (a MAT of one secondary – Passmores Academy -and two primary schools) has shifted the focus on developing pedagogy away from being a SLT led focus. Vic will explain the rationale behind moving away from a centric to a dispersed model. Accompanying Vic will be members of his Pedagogy Team which includes staff and students that lead on the constant development of great classroom practice. They will discuss the development of our professional learning communities across the school over the last four years, the impact that our Student Pedagogy Leaders have had and how we are going to meet the challenges of maintaining and growing our current approach with less funding available. We hope that you leave the session with a range of development ideas that have impact and don’t cost the earth.


Vic Goddard- Masterclass speaker Vic Goddard,  Principle of Passmores Academy


Sponsor Seminars:      1.45pm – 2.45pm

What next for system leadership?

Now that we’ve almost created a school-led improvement system, how are we going to lead it?

Recent years have seen rapid changes in the architecture of the school system and the infrastructure for school improvement. We have now gone past tipping point and the roles of academy trusts, teaching schools and key designated leaders are clearly here to stay. But what is it that we need next from our system leaders?

To date, most of their energy and resource has been spent either creating structures or carrying out emergency rescues of struggling schools, both of which are necessary short term actions. It is also not uncommon to see the people in these new roles following old patterns of behaviour and replicating the same processes that were led previously with a centrally-driven approach. Is this good enough?

If we really want the school-led improvement system to take the British education system to the next level then we need something new from our system leaders. This seminar will explore the qualities we need from the next generation of leaders and look at some emerging examples that seem to point the way forwards.


Pete Chilvers - Sponsor Workshop Speaker  Pete Chilvers, Chief Executive, School Development Support Agency


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"The conference provides inspiration and reaffirmation of moral purpose, feeding the soul and sense of privilege in what we do."
2016 delegate