18th December 2023
The Windsor Academy Trust Conference 2023 at the ICC in Birmingham was more than a professional gathering; it was a vivid celebration of community, belonging, hope, and educational excellence. The conference exemplified the Trust's commitment to creating a nurturing environment where both educators and students feel a profound sense of belonging and are inspired to look towards the future with optimism.
Dawn Haywood initiated the day's proceedings with a thoughtful keynote speech, following an energising performance by students. Her address, which came after students shared their own stories of thriving within the Trust, focused on the themes of belonging and hope. Dawn suggested that to truly unlock our academic and personal potential, a sense of belonging and an attitude of hope are essential. This perspective set the stage for the day, inviting attendees to reflect on how these values play a crucial role in both personal growth and the nurturing of a supportive educational environment. Her message was an invitation to consider the broader impact of these values in our work and lives.
The student performances were a highlight, showcasing the talent and potential within the Trust. These performances, along with the world-class keynote speakers and masterclasses, Jenny Webb, Peps Mccrea, Sid Madge, John Jones, Matt Warne and our expert panel of Anji Barker, Tina Costello, Paul Turner and Jonathan Coyles, created a tapestry of learning, inspiration, and emotional resonance. The attendees experienced a range of emotions - from laughter to tears - reflecting the depth and impact of the presentations.
The keynote speakers were nothing short of remarkable, each bringing unique insights and experiences to the forefront. Baroness Sue Campbell, renowned for her exceptional leadership in the realm of sports, captivated the audience with her mission to improve the world through her passion for sport. Her talk was not only inspiring but also a testament to how dedicated leadership can make a tangible difference.
Sir David Carter's insightful talk on school trusts provided valuable perspectives on the educational landscape, emphasising the importance of collaboration and strategic growth within the trust framework. The masterclasses were equally impressive, featuring a lineup of magnificent speakers who shared their expertise on a range of topics, enriching the audience's understanding and skills.
To conclude the day, Jaz Ampaw-Farr delivered a truly incredible session. Her unique blend of humour and heartfelt storytelling left a lasting impact, reminding everyone of the power of resilience and the human spirit. Each keynote contributed significantly to the conference, leaving attendees inspired and equipped with new ideas and approaches to implement in their roles.
A special mention must go to the steering group, whose efforts were instrumental in the seamless execution of the event. Their meticulous planning and execution brought an extra layer of professionalism and engagement to the conference, ensuring that every aspect, from the IT setup to the organisation of workshops, was handled with excellence.
The 'Big Moves in Practice' session, led by over 50 staff and guests, was another testament to the collaborative spirit and expertise within the WAT community. This session exemplified the practical application of the principles discussed throughout the day, reinforcing the message of unity and collective achievement.
Feedback from attendees, including seasoned educators with decades of experience, underscored the conference's success. They left feeling inspired and emotionally charged, ready to embrace the principles of bravery, belonging, belief, and behaviour in their educational practices.
In summary, the Windsor Academy Trust Conference 2023, was a landmark event that not only highlighted the Trust's educational prowess but also its commitment to creating a community where everyone - staff and students alike - feels valued, hopeful, and part of a larger, purposeful journey.