Academies Conference 2020

Over 250 academy leaders heard from the Education Secretary, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, at the Schools North East Academies Conference on 30 January in Newcastle upon Tyne, with academy leaders from nearly every Multi Academy Trust in the region attending. 

We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, as keynote speaker at the event. Mr Williamson emphasised the importance of providing high quality education across the country, saying that he was impressed by the collaboration between schools that took place in the North East, whether this be through the work of MATs or the fact that Schools North East continues to be the only regional network of schools. Reiterating the importance of Opportunity North East and the ONE vision schools, he announced the publication of the Opportunity North East delivery plan.

Following on from Gavin Williamson, Leora Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts spoke to delegates. She emphasised a need to change the current narrative of school trusts as ‘a privatisation of the education system’ to one of education charities that run schools. Echoing the Education Secretary, she spoke of the role of MATs in collaboration between schools, driving up academic standards. She argued that the most successful school trusts were those that were focussed on the front line of education.

Delegates had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions throughout the day, with a range of sessions specific to school leaders as well as CFOs and SBMs. Speakers included CEOs of MATs sharing their expertise on leadership and culture, as well as other professionals from the education sector and related organisations exploring the operational management of school trusts. The message throughout was that when making these management decisions, the quality of education provided to pupils must be the main consideration.

Later in the day Emma Ing, Ofsted regional director for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber spoke to the whole conference about the challenges children face in the region as they move from primary to secondary schools. She also discussed the new inspection framework, and how the previous framework had led to a narrowing of the curriculum which negatively affected disadvantaged children the most. 

The final keynote speaker of the day was David Weston, CEO of the Teacher Development Trust. With reference to the recently released NFER research on teacher autonomy, he discussed how school leaders could best improve CPD and develop teacher job satisfaction. Speaking about the importance of professional development he emphasised that attending a conference is not enough on it’s own, ‘it’s what you do with what you bring back that counts’. 

At Schools North East, we couldn’t agree more, and we want to hear if you have started to implement or change anything in your school because of one of our events, no matter how big or small. If your attendance at one of our events has or will potentially make a difference at your school let us know.

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