Standing Out Conference 2019

Our 4th Annual Victoria Academies Trust Conference

It was a dark, chilly morning when the organisers arrived at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Friday 15th February. Rooms were set up, technicians tested systems and by 8am a steady stream of staff from all eight Victoria Academies Trust schools began arriving. What had been a quiet, empty building began to buzz with conversations of colleagues catching up on what promised to be an exciting day over coffee and pastries.

As 9am approached, the main banquet hall filled up and the conference, expertly facilitated by our vice chair of Trustees began. We were welcomed by our Chair of Trustees, who set the scene for a day based around ‘being brilliant’. Our CEO focused us back to our underpinning FIDES values, reminding us what it means to be part of our Trust and giving us an opportunity to reflect on what being brilliant means –ultimately our Trust goal to be the best we can be.

Our first speaker, the highly entertaining but very poignant Andy Whittaker, focused on happiness: remember, ‘Spread love as thick as you would Nutella’. The room was rocking with laughter as his highly entertaining but affecting session made everyone realise that they could be brilliant. He left us with the conviction that we should be ‘more Bob the Builder’: if there’s a problem–we can fix it!

Next, a quick break for reflection over coffee where all agreed that the day had started wonderfully. Spirits were high as staff moved to their workshop sessions: a wide range to suit all needs was on offer. Our good friends from Challenge Education ran a workshop on meeting the needs of disadvantaged children – an oversubscribed and highly rated session. Our SEND Core team looked at well-being and mental health, with a practical yoga session for the staff too! Our Head of Curriculum focused staff on the new curriculum frameworks and what powerful knowledge means in different subjects. Insisting on excellence in the Early Years was the focus of the workshop run by our Head of EYFS; again, a thought provoking session that ‘hit the spot’ for our Early Years practitioners. Workshops for our Trustees and Academy Councillors- with a focus on strategy and values, along with a session run by our COO for our Core admin teams ensured that there was opportunities for all to focus, work together and collaborate with colleagues from across our Trust during this time.

As everyone met for a delicious lunch, the talk was about the morning. What had they learned? What were their ‘take back’ moments were. Meanwhile, our Trust Innovation Teams began setting up for their afternoon session.

The banqueting suite transformed to a mass ‘Teach Meet’ for the session after lunch. Each member of our Innovation hubs shared their research question for the year and presented their findings to date. Staff moved round to visit three different tables, learning about areas of their choosing. The room filled with a buzz as staff shared and questioned each other about new initiatives and ideas. For many, this is the highlight of the day – our own experts, sharing their knowledge and ideas with colleagues.

The final session of the day from David Hyner told us to be brave, set ‘Massive Goals’ and ‘Go RHINO’, empowering staff to be better than they ever thought they could be. This was demonstrated by Michaela Crawford, Head of Fibbersley Park Academy, who amazed us all with her sterling efforts on stage showing her skills as ‘memory queen.

The conference was wonderfully wrapped up by Rob Elkington, our facilitator for the day, bringing together in just 5 minutes the highlights and learning from a fabulous and inspirational day.

A final, and very welcome drinks reception, kindly sponsored by our colleagues at Now Education allowed everyone to unwind, reflect, and begin to plan #standingout20

Huge thanks to everyone who organised and presented at #Standing Out 19. To find out more, see #standingout19 on Twitter.

Victoria Academies Trust 4th Annual Conference Agenda