Inspiring excellence and great teaching: Highlights from the OAT Annual Leadership Conference 2023

  30 November, 2023

On 23 and 24 November 2023, our trust brought together educators, leaders, and pupils for our Annual Leadership Conference, a dynamic event dedicated to exploring the theme of great teaching: every lesson, every day, for every child. This year’s conference not only celebrated successful teaching practices but also welcomed our newly appointed CEO, Tom Rees, who made his debut appearance at the conference.

Setting the stage for an engaging and collaborative atmosphere, the conference featured three student co-hosts: Shenade Sundy, National Student Voice Chair from Ormiston NEW Academy; Louise Woodford, National Student Voice Vice-Chair from Ormiston Bushfield Academy; and Emily Elkin, winner of the ‘Make Yourself Heard’ competition from Ormiston Horizon Academy. Their exceptional hosting skills ensured the smooth flow of events, keeping the audience entertained and engaged.

The conference showcased the talents of OAT pupils through captivating performances, including songs and dances spanning across decades, inspired by “The Greatest Showman” and “Matilda.” Pupils from Packmoor Ormiston Academy, Ormiston SWB Academy, Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy, and Ormiston Horizon Academy left a lasting impression with their artistic contributions. A touch of magic was added to our evening meal, courtesy of students from Cowes Enterprise College who mesmerized attendees with their magic tricks.

Keynote speaker Tom Sherrington aligned his words with our conference theme, ‘every child, every lesson, every day,’ emphasising the importance of tailoring teaching to meet the individual needs of every student. His insights reinforced OAT’s commitment to providing quality education and challenging assumptions about the ease of teaching.

The conference featured workshops aligned with our trust’s ‘Principles of Teaching’, addressing key aspects such as ambition for all, climate for success, adaptive teaching, and purposeful practice. Notably, our senior lead practitioner for English, David Didau, conducted a live lesson with students from Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy, showcasing the significance of fluency in the language of success for academic success.

A highlight of this year’s conference was the live stream of our OAT-TV during our trust-wide INSET day, connecting over 5,000 members of staff. CEO Tom Rees facilitated a monumental “turn and talk” activity, encouraging staff to discuss their favourite teachers and the lasting impact these educators had on our lives and careers. The live stream also featured keynote speaker Owen Eastwood, a performance coach and author, who delved into the concept of ‘belonging’ and how people (your ancestors) and places (your environment) can have a dramatic impression on your sense of self.

Two insightful panels, featuring some of our principals and pupils, added depth to the conference discussions. The National Student Voice representatives, along with pupil performers and hosts, ensured this year’s conference was an enjoyable and inspiring atmosphere.

Tom Rees, CEO, expressed the significance of the conference, saying: “The OAT Annual Leadership Conference is such a significant event for our work as a Trust, and my first year speaking at it was incredibly special. It was so inspiring to be among students, principals and leaders, practitioners and special guests, for two days focused on learning, professional friendship, great teaching and belonging in schools, but most importantly looking forward to how we can achieve more together as a trust.

“This year, we returned to the core purpose of our work in schools – great teaching in every lesson, every day, and for every child. We know the power of great teachers and the difference high-quality teaching makes to students’ learning and outcomes, particularly for those in disadvantaged backgrounds. This year’s conference reflected closely on what makes great teaching, and how we are prioritising professional development and creating supportive cultures and conditions for teachers across our trust.”

Our OAT Annual Leadership Conference 2023 was a resounding success, celebrating excellence in teaching and fostering a sense of belonging within the OAT community. The collaboration between children, educators, and leaders exemplifies the commitment to continuous improvement and the pursuit of excellence in education and great teaching.

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