My focus this week has been on professional development. The biggest investment in schools is in our workforce, which is also the largest expenditure line in schools’ budgets. I spent two days with Camden Deputy and Assistant Heads this week at their conference in Brighton; I was delighted that such a large number of leaders came together for a valuable two days where we debated, collaborated and swapped ideas. The solutions to the challenges and issues we are dealing within our schools can be solved and worked through by each other, I saw this first hand over the two days. We were joined for the two days by four superb speakers who provided stimulating input, ideas and tools to take back to school. This week I have handed over the blog content to the Deputy’s/ Assistant Heads who have produced the blog from the conference, pulled together and written by Izzy Jones –Assistant Head at William Ellis.

Report from the Camden Assistant and Deputy Heads Conference, 15th – 16th November 2018.

Senior Leaders from Camden schools met in Brighton last week to focus on developing the quality of provision across our school system, with sessions led by inspiring leaders from across the country. It was a fantastic opportunity for attendees to learn, reflect and share ideas and generate ideas for future collaboration.

Oliver Knight, Executive Headteacher of Phoenix Academy spoke with clarity of vision and action about revolutionising teaching and learning, and making sure that this is streamlined so that teachers are able to give all their energies to the things that will make most difference to young people. He raised innovative solutions for measuring teacher effectiveness and prioritising the development of teacher expertise to avoid a culture of performativity, or low expectations. It was refreshing to hear him speak so energetically about doing this in a school in extremely challenging circumstances, and in line with the professional culture and vision of Camden Learning.

Vibrancy and buzz dominated a discussion of mental health, self-esteem and body image from the Self-Esteem Team. These issues are critical for young people in Camden, as elsewhere, and it was useful for them to be brought to the forefront of everyone’s minds, alongside a range of practical strategies that schools can use to address them. Like the first presentation this was grounded in research, drawing on psychology and studies on mindfulness in schools and the impact of trauma, and addressed questions on computer games and mental health, the impact of trauma and positive and negative labelling. This was followed by Graham Andre, who shared his reflections on participating in a study of gender equality and neutrality, and how we can create classrooms where boys and girls are not pigeonholed into stereotypes and are encouraged to develop their own identity and explore their potential.

The second day was led by Vic Goddard, who advocated for the values and drive that lie behind the success of his school. Drawing on old and new theories of leadership he spoke out strongly in favour of celebrating inclusion while maintaining high expectations, and serving the communities that we are in, whatever challenges that might bring. He encouraged those present to reflect on their own leadership journeys and intentions, and the importance of ordinary actions each day to support ordinary outcomes.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director, Camden Learning

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