Learning to Shape Birmingham 2017

The second annual BEP Conference took place at the ICC, Birmingham on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd September. 

view the film from Learning to Shape Birmingham 2017

This year’s event kicked off with a keynote address by National Schools’ Commissioner, Sir David Carter: School improvement is much more complicated than Ofsted labels suggest. We need a much more intelligent set of conversations about the trajectory of all of our schools and we should put less faith in simplistic headlines.

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A response followed from former CEO of Education Development Trust, Steve Munby: Some school leaders are losing sight of what matters most – these are times when we need a very strong moral compass, with heads as architects rather than surgeons. Valuing all children is more important than offering bright poor children a bit of special help.

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After-dinner speaker John Peters taught us that no matter how bad things are we need to take control, to be open about failure and to leave a legacy that is deeper than that which is measured.

The conference resumed on Friday morning, with a performance from young students at Queensbridge School and Aston Manor Academy, arranged by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. 


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The Chair of Youth Sport Trust and Head of Women's Football at the FA, Baroness Sue Campbell CBEAll schools need improvement and this can be achieved if everyone is bought into making marginal gains all the time.

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The morning's panel discussion consisted of Steve Munby, Headteacher of Saddleworth School Matthew Milburn, and Director of the Jesuit Institute Rev Adrian Porter SJ. The topic of discussion was what matters most in building successful schools, and each respondent brought an insight from their own background, proving that there is no one single way to lead a school effectively and successfully. 


BEP CEO Tim Boyes and BEP Chair Estelle Morris took to the stage to discuss BEP's achievements so far and where our priorities lie going forward. 

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Many of the morning's keynote and panel presenters went on to provide a deeper insight in Leadership Masterclasses. Sessions on offer included:

  • Improving Birmingham's SEND Provision
  • Successful leadership from the RSC's perspective
  • Ethical leadership in an unequal world 
  • Incorporating virtue and ethos into education
  • Developing growth mindset in a fixed system
  • And what we can do to transform our Primary schools

Sessions included: 

  • The use of comparative judgement to reduce workload 
  • A practical approach to mental health in schools
  • The unique and crucial role of Reception Year
  • The impact of world events on our children
  • Inspection outcomes in Secondary schools 
  • And creating great learning and improving engagement 

Delegates then came together one last time to hear from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman. She said "we all know that in Birmingham you’re facing some tough cultural, social and economic challenges. But in my visits I’ve been really encouraged by the collective will of many heads and teachers to tackle these issues head on. That collective will is so well demonstrated by your choice of subject for today: values. Education plays such an important part in establishing our moral codes and standards of behaviour. It opens up our minds to different ways of thinking, to new concepts and ideas, and allows us to be challenged by what we learn".

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders repsonded, encouraging teachers and leaders to stand up for the profession and steer away from being fearful and driven by Ofsted. Instead of displaying an 'Ofsted says we are a good school' banner on your front gates, why not display comments from pupils and parents?