We’ve had a chance to reflect on last week’s excellent Confederation of School Trusts Conference 2023; it was a privilege for our team to engage with so many education leaders. The two-day conference provided a comprehensive exploration of #belonging, focusing on People, Place, and Purpose. 

We took away so many innovative strategies and insights and wanted to share just a few of the sessions that inspired us the most.

1: Are we making the most of professional development for trust and school improvement?

By the National Institute of Teaching with Reuben MooreDawn Haywood, Jo Facer, Emma Starkey and Dr Herminder K Channa OBE NLE

This insightful and timely session emphasized the need for trusts to collaborate more effectively. The panellists discussed how to nurture a culture of learning. In addition, they shared first-hand experiences of how to put impactful professional development into practice.

Our blog on Avoiding Teacher Burnout also highlights a lack of meaningful professional development can lead to burnout.

2: Unpacking equity, diversity and inclusion - how to create a culture where everyone belongs

By Talent Architects with Mandy Coalter, Linbert Spencer OBE and Johan Jensen

This very practical session at the Confederation of School Trusts Conference emphasized the differences between equality, diversity, and inclusion. It provided clear guidance for leaders to build inclusive cultures in their organizations. An urgently needed workshop filled to the brim with kindness and practical tips.

Mandy’s Book “ How to Make your school a Great Place to Work” looks at how the culture and leadership of a school can make such a difference. You cannot have a great school without great staff.

3: In Conversation with Sam Freedman: the future of education policy

With Sam Freedman and Ollie Lane

A rich exploration of both the recent Conservative announcements around education policy and speculations around Labour priorities post-election. Sam combined reflections on education policy and overall priorities of the government. Also, highlighted teacher recruitment and SEND support as the two critical problems for the next government to address.

In our recent report on Improving School Trusts, we explore some of these raised priorities from the discussion and challenges for the future. Suffian Sadiq and Tamsin Francis look at possible ways some of the challenges can be addressed in schools.

4: Unlocking the power of your data: what’s next for the rich data that trusts collect?

By the National Institute of Teaching 

It was an engaging session, the exploration focused on how, as a sector, we could collaborate to enhance recruitment and retention. This involves developing teachers in a competitive market, especially in the absence of reliable information on good practices and effective teaching. It explored the meaning of “good data” and how schools and trusts can collect good data that informs school improvement.

The National Institute for Teaching's research delves into supporting staff and early teachers in career development. It emphasizes that increasing high-quality practice during initial teacher training enhances outcomes for both teachers and their pupils. The research provides insights into effective strategies for achieving these goals.

5: More than schools: why family engagement matters.

With Sally Burtonshaw, Julliette Cammaerts, Jaqueline Bircham and Professor Becky Francis CBE

At the Confederation of School Trusts Conference, this session delved into the timely challenge of parental/family engagement. It examined why engagement with parents and families is not just a "nice to have" but a fundamental pillar of delivering public benefit. Additionally, it fulfills their civic duty as a trust because it enhances overall educational outcomes.

Professor Becky Francis OBE spoke passionately about the research that supports best practices in the sector for working with parents and families. Also, offered a fantastic introduction to some of the guidance available from the Education Endowment Fund, particularly the guidance on how to engage parents in supporting their child's learning.

Edurio stand at the Confederation of School Trusts Conference

6: Making Mentoring work: can mentoring support teachers to stay in the profession and thrive?

By the National Institute of Teaching, with Dr Calum Davey, Cat Scutt, Reuben Moore and Kat Howard.

The session emphasized steps for enhancing staff well-being and development through mentoring support. It discussed optimizing time investment for high-value mentorship in the sector.

The National Institute of Teaching recently published a highly engaging report following research into mentoring and coaching trainees and early career teachers. Research stresses quality training for effective mentoring, yielding positive outcomes and practical takeaways for implementation.

7: Are we going back to the future?

By Browne Jacobson with Hugh Greenway, Dawn Haywood, Ed Vainker OBE, Katy Bradford, and Nick Mckenzie
The workshop delved into embracing sector knowledge and experience. It explored collaborative effectiveness for supporting the "self-improving school system" and addressing service delivery challenges.

Panel discussed trust mergers and opportunities for fostering a collaborative culture within this context. Browne Jacobson has a number of resources and guides on MAT mergers.

8: Schools as psychologically safe spaces.

By Anna Freud, with Roisin McEvoy and Nick Tait

Conference session emphasizes the importance of students feeling known, cared for, and valued, supporting well-being and consistent school attendance. It looked at the impact of COVID-19 and how we can begin to repair some of the damage done to school culture and feelings of togetherness and belonging.

Anna Freud offers a wide range of resources that are useful in supporting classroom practice, particularly around children's mental health. There are resources for professionals, families, under 5’s and children and young people. 

9: Reimagining Governance

With Mohsen Ojja, Claire Pannell and Samir Sadeghi 

A case study-inspired session that delves into the workings of Anthem Trust’s newly formed dedicated governance team. They design a holistic, robust strategy for trust effectiveness.

Anthem is one of the most well-established school trusts in the country and shares its latest insights and opinions on their blog.

10: Recruitment and Retention in challenging times.

By Teaching Personnel, With Danielle Fisher, Chris Hill, Penny Swain, Kate Fallan, and Rebekah Lyambo

This session delved into school retention, recruitment challenges, and actionable strategies empowering leaders for a thriving teaching workforce.

Teaching personnel offer a wide range of webinars and forums that offer support from the sector, covering recruitment, funding, Ofsted, tutoring and much more. For school leaders, their forums provide a valuable platform to discuss challenges with specialists and peers.

Summary of the Confederation of School Trusts Conference

We thoroughly enjoyed the Confederation of School Trusts Conference and were delighted to meet many of our existing customers as well as some new faces! 

While at the conference, we launched the National School Trust Report in conjunction with CST.
This report covers key facts, insights, and expert commentary on financial sustainability, education quality, workforce development, trust resilience, governance, and leadership.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of data-related topics discussed in the insightful workshops and keynotes at the conference, emphasizing a trust perspective.