The things I’ve taken from #TLAB14


At the last minute I managed to get funding from Suffolk LA as part of my Key Practitioner role to go to #TLAB14. I’m very grateful because I’ve taken some important ideas away from it.

Keynote:Elise Foster

Elise shared with us the concept of Multipliers and Diminishers in leadership. A multiplier will increase results 2.3x whereas diminishers only 40%. She also shared leadership styles and asked us to reflect if we knew leaders with these traits. I’m assuming that most people in the room reflected on their own style whilst thinking of people who have these characteristics.

It was a great introduction to the day as we were all considering our own leadership and how we work with our staff. It was implied that these leadership styles were negative however I would argue that rather than needing to change you need to refine these traits. It is clear though, that to get the best out of our teams we need to lead and manage them with thought. Her illustrative story clearly showed that giving people the opportunity to ‘fly’ will reward us more than ‘micro managing’. Are we brave enough to let go?

Here is the Multiplier trailer for further info.

Workshop 1: Leadership Panel

The chair was Megan Reitz (Ashridge Business School) and on the panel Mark Stead ( Headteacher at Berkhamsted), Dr Rona Mackenize (Prinicipal Lincoln UTC), Michael Whitworth (Principal Wren Academy) and Sean Harford ( Eastern regional director Ofsted).

It was an eclectic mix of personalities and perspectives. Each outlined their thoughts on leadership and then there were a couple of questions from the audience.

I was particularly impressed with Rona’s philosophy and thoughts on leadership. She came across as a fair, trusting, forward thinking leader. No doubt a multiplier. Someone you’d be able to work for. Someone you could be honest with and know that you won’t get in trouble or be judged. She’s starting a new school for September opening and alongside her VP Andrew I’m sure will succeed.

Equally impressive was Mark, the hosting Headteacher. He was very clear that his job is to develop staff so they do move on to bigger things. He says his SLT is always changing due to people stepping up and then moving on. He was very much a multiplier.

Sean Harford confirmed what some of us are beginning to see; a two way dialogue between Ofsted and teachers. He confirmed that Ofsted are using social media more.

Someone mentioned data and Ofsted making their minds up about a school before they even step in the building based on results. He challenged us with a question.

If Ofsted used ‘expected’ levels of progress across subjects(2 levels at ks2 and 3 levels ks3/4) what % schools would be classed as good? i.e get ‘expected’ levels

There was silence.Well I love my data so the answer 15% was pretty shocking. So put alongside the fact that Ofsted say that 80% of schools are ‘Good’ or better he made his point quite well.

I enjoyed the panel. I took from it real life examples of multiplying leaders and my great little Ofsted fact that I will tell as many people that will listen this week.

Workshop 2:CPD Panel

Yet another panel but this time with the focus of CPD.

Fellow #SLTcamper Phil Stock skilfully chaired the panel of Ken Brechin (Cramlington Learning Village), Dr Katherine Burn (University of Oxford), Eric Wareham and Andrew Newell (Iris Connect).

A similar format allowed panelists to explain their thoughts on CPD.

The main idea that panelists agreed on was the use of action research as personal development for teacher. Obviously panelists spoke of lesson observation but not by SLT making a judgment but triads or the use of lesson study for it to be a non-threatening developmental process.

One issue raised by the audience was the access to academic journals in order for teachers to read and reflect on what has already been researched. Ken confirmed he had looked into this and it was a ridiculous amount of money to subscribe to fee paying journal sites.  I can recommend JSTOR as you can access 3 journals every 2 weeks for free. OK this isn’t ideal but not many teachers would have much more time to read more so this could be a useful facility.

The biggest idea I took from the CPD panel was the question about impact of CPD. If CPD doesn’t have direct impact on student outcomes then why bother doing it? However it was acknowledged that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. How can you ‘prove’ that what you did for CPD has a direct link on student attainment or progress? I think the action research model has opportunity to prove this as it is based on identifying something at the start that you’d like to investigate. So we should stop any generic, whole school even large group CPD. It just won’t hit the nail on the head. Some schools need to totally re-think what they mean by CPD.

Workshop 4: Teacher effectiveness ( research based) with Prof Daniel Muijs

I’m interested in research and what it can tell us about teaching. This workshop didn’t fail to give us lots of interesting outcomes from research on teacher effectiveness. Daniel was engaging and involved us in discussion. I truly believe that the student-teacher relationship is key to teaching and he confirmed this as an important aspect whilst things such as school uniform aren’t.

It was a real shame that the time went so quickly. I’m sure lots of us had further questions for Daniel. I look forward to receiving his presentation to go through his key points again.

Keynote: Andy Williams

A great way to end the day; a Headteacher with humour! Andy shared with us the challenge of opening a new school in the same building, with the same staff and the same students as the predecessor school. He shared his core values with us and proudly said that he is ignoring the progress 8 measures to do what is best for the students in his school. I admire this man. How many other Heads would be brave enough to do this? Do what is best for the children and not for league tables?


Over the day I met some inspiring leaders from around the country. One secondary teacher who has just become an AH. His job is to be the leader of a primary school that his school has just joined with which is in special measures. I wished him luck!

At lunch I spent a good half hour talking data with Andrew Wright and discussing our experiences of large schools.

It was great to see some fellow #SLTCampers ‘sans’ beanie. They’ve become my teaching colleagues out of school.

And of course, no ‘out of school’ CPD would be the same without Anna Palmer who never fails to inspire and support me.

Thanks to the friendly and welcoming Nick Dennis for the great venue, food and organisation.

My aim is to come next year and bring someone else. In the meantime reflecting on how I can become more of a multiplier.


One thought on “The things I’ve taken from #TLAB14

  1. Very pleased that you were able to come (at the last minute) and that you got so much out of the day. We recorded the panel debates and they will be placed in the conference iBook which will be available to all delegates in the next few weeks. Look forward to seeing you at #TLAB15!

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