Seizing Success conference – day 2

Second day at the Seizing Success leadership conference in Birmingham – lots to chew on, plenty of stimulating input. I’ve already blogged about Michael Barber’s challenge to step up in terms of our thinking about a global education reform. Here are a couple of other highlights….

Steve Munby, Chief executive of the National College provided an inspiring address focusing on “servant leadership” and the idea of leadership as a service –  a concept that has fascinated me for some years. Steve did a great job linking a lot of his ideas to the current political situation, suggesting the appropriate sorts of responses based on this sort of philosophy. He urged the leaders in the audience to act with moral purpose, to think not “what do I want?”, but “what is wanted of me?” He made the point that for those who have been in leadership for less than ten years they will never have known a time of real hardship or adversity, having served as leaders through a time of relative prosperity and growth. The real test of leaders is now upon us, as we seek to lead/serve in times of adversity. The full video of Steve’s presentation can be found here and a PDF of his slideshow here.

An eagerly anticipated presentation came from the Rt Hon Michael Gove, MP – the Secretary of State for Education in the new conservative-led government. One couldn’t help but be impressed by the sheer intellect of the man, his command of language and presentation skills, and his ability to think on his feet with deep and deliberate answers in the question time. His mantra, “Head teachers are the best to run schools, not bureacrats or politicians.” This theme emerged throughout his talk as he outlined this government’s plan to shift more of the balance of power back into the hands of schools. One of the key strategies in this government’s plan for achieving this is to give professionals more scope to drive improvement by inviting all schools to consider applying for academy freedoms.

There was plenty of food for thought in his speech – including lots that I found myself questionning, such as his characterisation of teaching as a craft, and reducing the focus of teacher education to an apprenticeship. Judging by the conversations generated afterwards there was a lot of political nuance that slipped by me – see for yourself, you can view the full video of his presentation here, or you can download the text of his speech here. (word, 40kb)

More on speakers on day two can be found on the conference blog.

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