Journey to Outstanding

What makes the greatest difference?

The Tomlinson Centre, Queensbridge Road, E8 3ND
7 November 2013 8.30am – 4.30pm

Why this conference?

Schools in England have improved considerably over the last decade, with some areas such as Inner London witnessing a dramatic improvement. Nationally, 79% of all schools are now good or better. The overall picture is one of largely effective schools with committed and competent leadership. Like many London boroughs, Hackney has had to fight hard to turn failing schools into outstanding ones.

As well as sharing that experience, we also know that schools that sustain good or outstanding performance are those that are constantly looking to improve.

Whether you lead a school or support school improvement, you are facing significant challenges in:

  • reducing the attainment gap for vulnerable groups,
  • improving the life chances of every pupil,
  • ensuring your teachers contribute to the leadership of learning.

This conference gave attendees an insight into how schools reach and sustain excellence for their pupils and their staff, how school leadership and system wide improvement works in practice, and how the changing education framework can be an opportunity for you and your school.


  • Learn how strong leadership and effective management works in thriving schools and in those progressing on their improvement journey to become successful.
  • Hear ideas and strategies that will take your school to the next level of performance and provide a real challenge to your thinking.
  • Question our expert speakers on their experience and how future developments may affect your school.
  • Benefit from networking with colleagues facing similar challenges

Who attended?

The conference was attended by those involved in school leadership and associated educational decision making processes, including:

  • Headteachers and Deputy Headteachers
  • Heads of Departments
  • School Governors
  • School Improvement Specialists and Advisors
  • School Business Managers

Tricia Okoruwa, Education Director, Head of Hackney Learning Trust

Keynote talk – McKinsey School Systems Model and Hackney’s Journey

  • Gain insights into the systemic nature of school improvement.
  • Explore schools’ improvement journey and how strategies need to change as a system improves.

Biography – Prior to joining the Trust, Tricia gained 17 years teaching experience both in inner city London and internationally in Paris. During this time Tricia took on the headship role at one of London’s most deprived and underperforming schools and turned it around in just two years, to achieve well above national standards. This (along with experience guiding other Head Teachers through challenging situations) led to her invitation to join the Trust in 2004 in an advisory capacity; to help improve education in the borough of Hackney.

The following year Tricia was appointed Deputy Director at the Trust, for the Learning and Standards division, with a focus on school performance and improvement in primary schools. A decade has passed since the creation of the Trust and Hackney is now regarded as a borough with rapid improvements, sustained achievements, best practise, and innovation in education. In her current role,

Tricia has responsibility for the entire Education Service in Hackney, which ranges from Early Years through to Adult Learning. As a passionate educator she continues to strive for excellence in education.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Ofsted

Keynote talk – Improvement and Inspection

  • The improvement in school performance in Hackney and London.
  • Regional variations in performance.
  • The attainment gap.
  • What Headteachers and school leaders have to do to improve the system further?

Biography – Sir Michael Wilshaw was appointed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills on 1 January 2012. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) is statutorily responsible for Ofsted’s inspection and regulatory work. He is able to draw on the full range of inspection findings to report on the quality of education, children’s services and skills, locally and nationally. He is responsible to Parliament for the organisation, staffing and management of Ofsted, and for ensuring the efficient and effective use of resources.

Prior to joining Ofsted, Sir Michael had a distinguished career as a teacher for 43 years, 26 of these as a Headteacher in London secondary schools, and most recently as Executive Principal at

Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney. In addition to leading Mossbourne Community Academy, Sir Michael was Director of Education for ARK, a charitable education trust running a number of academies across England.

Sir Mike Tomlinson CBE FRSA, Former Chief Inspector of Schools and Head of Ofsted and former Chair of The Learning Trust

Keynote talk – The London Challenge

  • The ever improving performance of schools in London.
  • The Hackney journey: the lessons to be learned, the inspiration to be gained.

Biography – Sir Mike Tomlinson, CBE, served as the Chief Inspector for Schools and was responsible for the work of Ofsted from December 2000 to April 2002. He headed an independent expert inquiry into ‘A’

Level Standards in 2002. In 2003 he became chair of the Government’s working group on reform of the curriculum and qualifications for 14-19 year olds.

He was also a senior advisor to London Challenge. He has been both a school and university governor. From 2002 to 2007, he served as the Chair of The Learning Trust which is now Hackney Learning Trust. During his stewardship, The Learning Trust was a not-for-profit body responsible for running the education services in the London borough of Hackney. In this period

Hackney schools’ performance improved beyond all recognition. He is a Trustee of the Baker-Dearing Trust, responsible for the establishment of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and chairs Myscience, the body responsible for the National Science Learning Centre, the regional science learning centres and the national STEM centre.

Workshop 1 – Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Emma Wilson and Tim Wooldridge

Early Years provision makes a difference to a child’s life chances; the higher the quality of this provision, the longer its impact. The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Explore the provision of an outstanding EYFS curriculum, including the outdoor environment.
  • Gain insights into how the assessment, planning and evaluation cycle supports learning for individuals and groups.
  • Discuss, reflect and evaluate provision, plan improvements and developments that support learning, and the extent of the opportunities for children to continue developing new skills, knowledge and understanding.

Workshop 2 – Daily Supported Reading Programme

Richard Boxall

This is a programme that raises the quantity of successful independent reading accomplished by each child in Key Stage 1. It supports a coherent approach to the reading curriculum. It also has a record of proven success in raising reading standards.

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Learn how the programme builds capacity of school staff, reading volunteers and parents to meet the needs of children at the beginning of the learning to read journey.
  • Explore all the activities delivered by the programme and how they are applied in a school setting.

Workshop 3 – The LIT Programme

Sophie Holdforth

The LIT Programme delivers a small group intervention that improves the reading comprehension and writing skills of struggling Year 7 pupils. It equips them with strategies for learning and understanding, as opposed to just decoding a piece of text. It is currently used in 50 secondary schools in the UK.

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Explore and discuss the mix of approaches used in the programme such as meta-cognitive methods and Reciprocal Teaching.
  • Gain insight into how the LIT Programme works in a school setting by strengthening learners’ confidence so that they can work with greater independence.

Workshop 4 – Modern Foreign Language (MFL) – Spanish

Bernadette Clinton

Hackney primary and secondary schools will collaborate on an approach to MFL teaching with Spanish as the first foreign language. This involves a pilot where two secondary schools are working with nine primary schools to develop best practice before a roll out during the second half of 2014.

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Understand how the project is operating in detail.
  • Examine the scheme of work and the resources that are being produced and used by schools.

Workshop 5 – Primary Advantage Maths Programme

Gemma Meharg

Effective learning of mathematics requires a coherent and well-structured curriculum, excellent instructional materials and teachers who use sound pedagogical strategies. This is the core of the programme which emphasises conceptual understanding, skills proficiency, learning of process skills and focuses on mathematical problem solving.

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Explore how the programme supports school staff in developing the three key areas of pedagogical, curriculum and mathematical knowledge.
  • Learn and discuss the how the programme supports primary schools in the planning and delivery of lessons.

Workshop 6 – Learning with iPads

Jeremy Harris

The programme has been at the forefront of working with iPads in the classroom. iPads enthuse and engage pupils and staff, helping raise standards in teaching, learning, engagement and behaviour.

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Discover how schools working with iPads delivers improvement across all subjects and how the use of new technology across the curriculum creates a child-led, inclusive learning environment.
  • Share one school’s experience of working with iPads and the results they achieved.
  • Explore the variety of apps available and how to choose the most appropriate ones to meet your requirements

Workshop 7 – Assessment for Learning

Jenna Clark

Develop your school’s expertise in effective assessment systems with the programme. It introduces assessment systems for all subjects both in lessons and for longer term development. It directly match pupils’ needs and makes assessments a part of learning.

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Explore assessment types, methods of delivery and marking, as well the effective sharing and implementation of feedback and data use.
  • Gain knowledge to help you build more effective assessment systems which supports pupil’s progression without stifling creativity.

Workshop 8 – Securing good or better teaching

Rachel Thompson

The programme provides an understanding of best practice. It supports the development and implementation of teacher strategies that improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom.

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Gain insights into how outstanding teaching is underpinned by the use of Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) skills and its five domains.
  • Identify strategies based on SEAL principles that improve the quality of teaching and learning.
  • Obtain knowledge on how reflective, school led learning teams can support the development of teacher practice.


Here’s what our attendees thought about the conference:

“Very interesting and inspiring.”

“Excellent conference, valuable day.”

“Fantastic conference, will take so much back to Suffolk that will support systems of school improvement.”