Ofsted, EdTech and lessons in MAT leadership

Held at Milton Keynes Horwood Estate over two days, The Multi Academy Trust Partnership Network (MATPN) gave delegates the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas with their peers, as well as participate in targeted meetings with innovative industry suppliers.


How large MATs can manage improvement

Day one saw event Chairman, Adrian Ball, Chief Executive at the Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust, chair a panel session on how large MATs can manage improvement. The panel, which included Jonny Wathen, CIO of Wellspring Academy Trust, Mike Vaughan, Director of IT at Unity Schools Partnership and Lisa Hawker, Head of IT at Ark Schools, talked through what does and doesn’t work in building a strong trust, examples of successful school improvement models, and the role of EdTech.

“It’s important to be able to have a clear digital strategy that shows your team when they can expect to see the impact of EdTech. We need to create that vision, and turn it into an expectation,” said Mike Vaughan.


Gaining a technical edge

Headline sponsor Iris Education, also took to the stage to discuss how MATs can gain a technical edge outside of the classroom. Product Director Winston Poyton gave an insightful talk on minimising MAT growing pains with a robust tech strategy.

Catt Scutt, Director of Education and Research at the Chartered College of Teaching, gave a passionate and informative session on building a strong professional culture to support teacher learning and improve pupil outcomes.

Delegates also got to hear from Catherine Kelsall, School Engagement Lead at the Department for Education (DfE). Catherine explained how the DfE is providing guidance to schools and academies to improve how they buy goods and services, and helping them save time, money and improve outcomes by reducing non-staff spend.


The Education Inspection Framework – and what it means for MATs

Day two got underway with a presentation from Ofsted’s National Director of Education, Nick Harford, who discussed the changes to the Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and what it means for MATs. He provided some much-needed clarification and reassurance, and shed some light on how Ofsted approach evaluating the quality of education.

Another informative talk included a session on Apprenticeship Levy challenges, which highlighted how most trusts are currently losing thousands of pounds a month as their levy funds “time out.” Phil Beecher, Director of Finance at Boudica Schools Trust shared some key takeaways on how to use the levy to achieve value for money in a wider sense, and also dispelled a lot of the myths that put organisations off apprenticeships.


School improvement strategies – what does autonomy look like for you?

Delegates were inspired by a session on effective school improvement strategies, presented by Claire Heald, Standard Director at the Inspiration Trust. Claire asked delegates: “what does autonomy look like for you? What does your timeline for improvement look like? And, how quickly do you want to improve standards? It’s crucial to understand your starting point, and do your due diligence before you go about implementing change.”

Partnership Network Events specialise in bringing together senior leaders and sector suppliers to share ideas and to collaborate, and MATPN saw the return of the highly successful Dragon’s Den presentations. Twenty one sector suppliers took to the stage on day one of the inaugural event to deliver a short pitch, explaining their business and how their services can help tackle some of the ongoing sector challenges.


Meeting of minds – bringing delegates and suppliers together

When developing innovative solutions that help trusts become transformational and create engaging learning experiences, it can be challenging for suppliers to get their proposition in front of the right people. MATPN’s pre-arranged targeted 1:1 business meetings mean that suppliers can spend time with delegates who are engaged with their product, and want to know more.

“This event is the first of its kind, and it was great to host some of the education sector’s biggest names like Ofsted and the DfE, as this gave delegates to most up to date and important information which they can and feedback to their wider teams,” said Jack Jacob, Managing Director at Partnership Network Events.

“We heard so many inspirational talks, panel discussions and Q&As, and we also heard some great conversations between our delegates and suppliers, which will give senior leaders food for thought, and ideas for future change projects.”

The next MATPN will return to Milton Keynes in October 2020.


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