25 November, 2021
On 18 and 19 November 2021, the Trust hosted its annual Conference, offering the chance to get together with old and new friends after a long time apart.
The conference was a big success and there were many new faces to get acquainted with, including those from the OAT London academies, who recently joined the Trust. Pupils both past and present were also in attendance, sharing stories and experiences of their time at OAT.
The brilliant Holly Weaver from Tenbury High Ormiston Academy and Lenny Rush from Ormiston Rivers Academy hosted the event, doing an excellent job of ensuring everything ran smoothly and keeping audiences entertained along the way.
Past pupils were invited back to present awards to their principals, celebrating their contributions to education. Attendees heard about the paths the alumni had embarked on since moving on from the Trust, with some impressive careers to speak of, including a degree apprenticeship at Dyson’s and a job at KPMG.
Meanwhile, Ormiston Forge Academy’s head girl, Madison Homer, gave an inspiring speech on privilege and acceptance, opening up about her own journey and sharing how schools and teachers can offer their support. She was joined on stage by associate senior leader KS4 pastoral , Warren Grant, who has been pivotal in promoting diversity in schools.
Madison’s speech chimed in with the overarching theme of the conference, which was based on Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “be the change you want to see in the world”. As part of this focus, OAT invited a range of excellent speakers to educate the audience on issues around equality, diversity and inclusion.
Diversity strategist Hayley Barnard educated attendees on “moving from unconscious bias to conscious inclusion”, inviting audience members to examine their own unconscious biases and identify how they can ensure these biases don’t impact their decision making.
Keynote speaker from the University of Birmingham School, Bec Tigue, helped everyone to better understand Character Education and how it’s grounded around “children flourishing”, living life with a sense of purpose and contentment and providing agency and a place in the community. OAT is looking forward to building on its relationship with both University of Birmingham School and the Jubilee Centre for Character Virtues.
The closing speaker was Bennie Kara, author of ‘Diversity in Schools’. She gave an impassioned explanation of how the power of stories influences learners, emphasising the need for all educators to look at how they challenge narratives within their subjects.
OAT wants to embed social action into the curriculum as part of this drive for inclusion, and one exciting part of the Conference was the launch of #WeWill, a student social action project which is open to all academies in the Trust.
A central part of #WeWill is the OAT National Student Voice, who represent their academies on a regional and national basis and decide how to take action on the issues that matter most to them. They presented the #WeWill initiative to principals, senior leaders and governors, and will be key in deciding which projects academies take on.
The OAT choir kept spirits with catchy renditions of fan favourites, and there were plenty of occasions for festivities throughout the Conference as people celebrated the successes of the past year. It was a great opportunity to share thoughts and ideas and get everyone motivated and inspired for what’s ahead.
Nick Hudson, CEO said: “It was a real pleasure to have everyone together in one room again, and to be able to chat with so many of members of our community.
“What makes OAT special is the strong community that we share, both in individual academies and across the Trust more widely. Events like this give us the chance to strengthen these networks, ensuring our academies, staff and pupils can be a source of support, encouragement, and creativity for one another.
“I was also so impressed by the quality of the speakers we had, who helped to unpack OAT’s overarching vision around equality, diversity and inclusion. These values are a cornerstone of our culture, and this Conference offered an opportunity to focus on that, celebrating our achievements up to this point but always thinking about what more we could be doing.”