Masterful inactivity or transformation? The goal is the same for our schools: unrelenting improvement

Posted on: 25 Feb 2015

We are all constantly seeking ways of improving what we do – in every respect of school life says Bernard Trafford, head of Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne. So why not consider how High-Impact Leadership is Transforming Schools…

School transformation isn’t a term we often encounter in the independent sector.

It’s used a lot in state schools, nowadays, however. Perhaps the reason for this lies in the sectoral difference. As independent schools we stand aside from the ruthless and relentless thrust of government initiatives and, let’s face it, U-turns.

Sometimes our approach is termed masterful inactivity, but that wouldn’t be true either. There’s no doubt that the sacrifices parents make for fees and sheer pressure on schools at all levels to ensure that children really do fulfil their potential and aim high in the next stage of their career or life means that we are all constantly seeking ways of improving what we do – in every respect of school life.

It’s not so much transformation, and certainly not revolution: it is dynamic, constant, unrelenting improvement.

But don’t let the transforming handle put you off a major conference that the National Education Trust is holding in the North of England on Friday 20th March. I am delighted to be hosting it at the school of which I am head, Newcastle upon Tyne’s Royal Grammar School.

Those of us living and working north of Watford (!) often despair at the fact that so many major conferences are held in the south – or the Midlands, at most! So we were eager to accede to NET’s request to host one of its major conferences, for the first time on the north bank of the Tyne!

Setting the tone for the day will be Times columnist Matt Ridley (who lives in Northumberland and is therefore definitely a northerner). His now viral TED Talk When Ideas Have Sex (viewed on YouTube more than two million times) draws on his prizewinning book The Rational Optimist. His keynote session will take that concept further, discussing how leaders need to ensure that ideas do indeed procreate and spread.

Roy Blatchford, founder-Director of NET, will also speak about his fantastic new book, The Restless School, and particularly a chapter that moved me deeply: Excellence as Standard. Executive Head Vanessa Langley will discuss the self-improving school system today while HMI Debbie Clinton will give a vital pre-lunch session on What inspection tells us about high-impact leadership.

In addition there will be seminars on Research and evidence: Which CPD matters to teachers; Blogging the way to better pedagogy; Why excellent governance matters; oh, and you can hear from Roy Blatchford again on the new 2015 Headteachers’ Standards.

The venue, RGS, is situated less than 10 minutes from Newcastle’s Central Station, making travel easy. There are numerous hotels nearby in Jesmond.

This conference is a great opportunity, good value – and it’s in the north! Give it a try!

NET Major Northern Conference, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne. Friday 20th March.

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