Senior Leaders’ Conference 2018
22nd June 2018
On 21st June 2018, the Schools Team held their annual Senior Leaders’ Conference. It was a fantastic day, with Mary Myatt as our guest speaker. Caroline Sledge, the Headteacher Designate of Meppershall Academy, has written about her experience of the day:
What a treat! A whole day in a stunning setting, away from the day-to-day stresses and strains of senior leadership, and a chance to press “pause”. All of us present welcomed the chance to reflect, refresh and connect with our core moral purpose, through inspirational input, interspersed with valuable peer discussion and networking opportunities.
Right from the start, during the brief reflection, there was an opportunity to stop, draw breath and reconnect with our spiritual selves as we listened to the Beatitudes in contemporary language, followed by prayers for us, our world, our schools, the gift of the day ahead and our speaker.
It was then that we got a chance to hear from Mary Myatt, a highly regarded author, speaker, and leading commentator on education issues. Mary offered us her insights and challenged our thinking based on a range of research as well as her own many and varied experiences as a teacher, Ofsted inspector and work with schools.
Mary set out to explore the vision and values of “hopeful schools” (we were all lucky enough to receive as a gift, a copy of her book of the same title); to consider how a culture of high challenge, low threat creates conditions for our best work; to explore the workload challenge and how doing fewer things really well can significantly impact outcomes. We finished with a look at the challenge and benefits of ensuring a broad, balanced and deep-reaching curriculum. Throughout the day, Mary referred repeatedly to the importance of developing language acquisition and the prime place oracy should have in our schools.
Everything Mary offered throughout the day resonated with me but the main takeaways were the following: in every encounter we have in our communities we need to live out rather than just “laminate” our values; balancing humanity and accountability in all we do – her mantra throughout the day was that we are humans first and professionals second; making sure all children, especially the disaffected, have a voice; noticing the small improvements made by each member of staff and regularly clocking the miles travelled; using well thought out responses to what we’ve observed (“Tell me if I’ve got this wrong but …”); and finally, making sure that, in line with Ofsted and DfE requirements, we were only ever asking staff to provide feedback, data and planning that had a positive impact on the children.
As an experienced head, new into the Diocese and Bedfordshire after a ten-year period in Hampshire, the day was extremely valuable. That value was increased by having my assistant head alongside me, and we used this opportunity to share ideas and begin to shape our plans for the year ahead. The SIP had almost written itself by the end of the day!
If you have never been to this event or have not prioritised it in recent years, I urge you to reconsider for next year and commit to coming along. It would be a real loss for us all if the Diocese decided events such as these were unsustainable. So next year prioritise your own professional growth and nourishment and seize this opportunity to “feed the well”.
Finally, on behalf of all those present, I would like to thank Jane Chipperton, Judy Ruff and Ruth Garman for all their hard work in planning such a memorable day.
You can follow Mary on Twitter at @MaryMyatt or visit her website marymyatt.com which has links to free resources and monthly school improvement updates.