Most influential UK education blogger discusses teacher workload at Hertfordshire Primary Headteachers’ Conference

    Published: 26 October 2018

    Herts for Learning’s (HfL) Primary Headteachers’ Conference took place last week, with 180 primary school headteachers attending the two-day event.

    Designed by headteachers, the theme for this year’s conference was ‘Navigating Leadership in the Real World’ and focused on key issues that Hertfordshire schools are facing including:

    • a huge surge in numbers of children with significant SEND in mainstream schools, especially autism and ADHD
    • rapidly growing numbers of children experiencing attachment difficulties, often resulting in extreme behaviour
    • changes in expectations around what our curriculum provision should look like
    • further changes to the Ofsted framework.

    Headteachers had the chance to listen to the UK’s most influential education blogger, Ross Morrison McGill, also known as @TeacherToolkit, who has become the most followed teacher on Twitter in the UK, amassing over 203,000 followers.

    Since launching his blog in 2008, Ross quit teaching but provided Hertfordshire headteachers with a passionate and research-led speech that looked at teacher workload, mental health and also his passion for social media.

    Ross spoke about his personal struggle with managing his workload and personal life before providing headteachers with different workload strategies that they can adapt in their schools.

    The next speaker, Professor Mick Waters works with schools in the West Midlands to raise standards. Previously a Headteacher, he worked at senior levels in Birmingham and Manchester Local Authorities and at national level with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority where he was Director of Curriculum. He spoke with passion about feedback to pupils, the key questions to ask regarding the curriculum and considered what constituted ‘joyous and purposeful learning’.

    The final speaker on Thursday was Lisa Wisher, an experienced social worker, trainer and Psychotherapist who provided insight into the neurological impact of trauma on young children and how this would manifest in their behaviours. She discussed how to understand and lead attachment difficulties in schools.

    Friday saw Jeremy Spencer, Senior Her Majesty’s Inspector in the East of England, provide clarity on Ofsted’s thinking regarding the new Ofsted framework, which will be published in September 2019.

    Robyn Steward, an author, living with nine disabilities and autism, provided the conference delegates with a first-hand account of what life is like growing up with autism and how leaders could support children on the autistic spectrum to feel safe and thrive in their school.

    The last speaker, Jim Smith, author of ‘The Lazy Teacher’ and Headteacher of Clevedon School, an outstanding secondary school in North Somerset, inspired with reflections on making the work of leaders manageable whilst remaining passionate about the job.  

    Speaking after the conference, Tracy Warner, Education Services Director (Primary) at HfL, said: “Every headteacher I spoke to said that it was the best one they have attended for a number of years. Primarily, it was because they felt that every presenter was engaging, relevant, understood their world and the challenges they face and left them with thoughts of things they can practically do back at school.”

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