Tag Archives: #ilconf16

Inspiring Leadership #ILConf16⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly


Wow, what a week. I’ve been tremendously lucky to be at the Inspiring Leadership conference in Birmingham this week. This is a high quality event aimed primarily at senior leaders in schools which provides opportunities to learn from inspirational leaders from a wide range of sectors.

One of the challenges however of events like this is that feeling you get at the end. It’s a combination of feeling inspired whilst also somewhat overwhelmed…

In order to help with this I’ve set myself a task as I return home on the train this afternoon. I tend to tweet my notes at events like this and so I’ve gone back through my timeline for the past few days and forced myself to choose just one tweet for each session. Not all of the tweets are mine, some are retweets. You can see each of these below and a short explanation for my choice for each.

You can view the many other Twitter contributions from the conference in the hashtag #ILConf16.

Welcome: Russell Hobby, General Secretary, NAHT
 & Malcolm Trobe, Interim General Secretary, ASCL


The event was impressive in its organisation in that it was collaboratively organised between different bodies. Russell and Malcolm embodied this well in their welcome which seamlessly moved between them both. One of the messages which I liked was around the many ways in which schools in England can work in partnership. I imagine it can be be easy to get caught up in discussions around choosing which model to pick from, rather than working from the needs and priorities for the learners in your school community.

Plenary One
: Andy Buck, Managing Director, Leadership Matters and author


Andy Buck’s opening keynote was very entertaining. Among his many points was this one around the importance of teacher professional learning. Many of us are quite familiar with the potential, and limitations, of effect size data in reference to learning and teaching, I hadn’t seen effect sizes for leadership activities before. The differences in this graph are very interesting and worth further exploration I think.

Plenary Two: Panel session
 – Baroness (Estelle) Morris of Yardley, David Laws & Sir Peter Housden

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

This panel discussion between Estelle Morris, David Laws and Petwr Housden was really interesting. As I say in the tweet, I really enjoy listening to Estelle. She’s got such authenticity and exudes wisdom. They spent quite a bit of time discussing transitioning into senior leadership roles and I really liked Estelle’s point that the best way of doing this is thinking yourself into your next role and then hitting the ground running when you get there.

Plenary Three
: Rt Hon Lord (William) Hague, former Foreign Secretary, historian and humanitarian

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

William Hague was surprisingly amusing, which was a good thing at this time at the end of the first day. He structured his talk around the seven pieces of leadership advice which he wished he’d known before becoming the leader of the opposition. I like the way this tweet captures these seven pieces of advice.

Plenary Four
: Steve Munby, Chief Executive, Education Development Trust

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

I thought Steve Munby was really excellent, I just wished I’d been able to pause and rewind him quite a few times! I particularly liked the way his talk was very targeted to the current needs of the audience and yet filled with emotion and moral purpose. I’ve chosen this tweet as these six questions I think could form the basis of a really powerful piece of professional learning for school leaders.

Plenary Five
: Viviane Robinson, Distinguished Professor in the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice, Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland and Academic Director of its Centre for Educational Leadership

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

Viviane has clearly got a wealth of research experience and uses this to inform her work with schools. I liked the way she brought the importance of mindsets to the level of the thinking of senior school leaders and then how this then informs the ways in which leaders could interact with others. I chose this tweet as I think it captures the essence of her message.


Leadership with purpose: 
Baroness Sue Campbell CBE, Chair Youth Sport Trust, Head of Women’s Football (FA) and Chair of UK Sport 2003-2013

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

Sue Campbell was really excellent and she brought two perspectives to her talk. The first was what I’d been expecting about the actions of elite atheletes, but she also shared her leadership experiences from the perspective of chairing UK Sport which involved not only leading that organisation, but also working with the many different sport governing bodies. I’ve chosen this tweet as she manages to summarise her advice on leadership onto one, powerful, slide.

Collaboration as a strategy for promoting equity in education: possibilities and barriers
: Professor Mel Ainscow CBE, University of Manchester

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

Mel Ainscow was brilliant. He shared the ways in which schools need to develop their cultures within, between and with the community. I really liked his pragmatic approach to both his, and teachers’, research and I really need to read some of his work. I’ve chosen this tweet as it relates so strongly to my recent engagement on teacher leadership across Scotland, and I even bounded (as best I can) up to him at the end to give him a hard copy of the report.

Plenary Six
: Matthew Syed, writer, broadcaster and three times Commonwealth games champion and Olympian

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

I’m a big mindsets fan and really enjoyed Bounce, however I’d never heard Matthew speak before. I really enjoyed his talk, but he was even better in the Q&A at the end. I’ve chosen this tweet as I don’t think I’d ever made a conscious connection between practitioner enquiry and growth mindset before. Chuffed that I’ve now got a signed copy of his new book and looking forward to reading it…

Plenary Seven
: Zainab Salbi, Iraqi author, humanitarian, social entrepreneur and media commentator. Founder and former CEO Women for Women International

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

Zainab Salbi was phenomenal…such a powerful story. A thread running through her talk was that she was not a leader. Recently she has come to accept and love the fact that she is. This resonates somewhat with me…I think, like many teachers, I used to associate leadership with promotion and management. It wasn’t something I did, and I perhaps even would’ve distanced myself from that word. Zainab helped me to further realise that not only am I a leader, but that’s ok and something which can be celebrated and enjoyed and used to make my work better. I was hanging on her every word and so didn’t tweet much, but I think Lesley captured it perfectly.

Plenary Eight
: David Breashears, climber, photographer, film maker and founder, Executive Director and Principal Photographer of the non-profit organization, GlacierWorks, Inc.

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

David was amazing. He shared the story of his team’s effort to record the first IMAX film of climbing Everest in the midst of a horrific disaster. It was inspirational, awe inspiring and emotional and I loved the fact that as they gazed back at Everest as they left and wondered how on earth they had achieved what they had just achieved, this was their answer.

Plenary Nine: 
Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor to Pearson and the Managing Partner of Delivery Associates

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

I hadn’t realised that this panel session was going to focus on the role of Islam in education. It was a powerful and honest debate and the panellists were excellent. Even more impressive were the students who joined the session and contributed their thoughts both on film and in person. I think this is a conversation which we need to be having more often and in this way, but I’ve chosen Jay’s tweet as the students’ contributions were absolutely fantastic.

Plenary Ten
: Humphrey Walters – Leadership and management expert, sports coach, pilot and sailor

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

Humphrey closed the conference with a highly entertaining talk based primarily on his experiences as a sailor and a consultant to the World Cup winning English rugby team. I’ve chosen this tweet as I think it captures two powerful messages: focus on what you can control and whatever the turbulence around you is doing, look for the gap in the wave and head for it.

See what I mean? There’s so much in just this small sample of tweets, and there was so so so much more across the three days.

Now I’m planning to let it all percolate through and see where it takes me come Monday…