Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust was formed to keep the family of schools in the Diocese of Liverpool together. On 11 October, the family of LDST schools engaged in their first Trust-wide INSET Day. The event was hosted at St Michael’s Church of England Secondary School, the founding school of LDST, and Headteacher Dr Simon Hulme reflected on the great energy evident throughout the day.
The focus of the day was to enable leaders and teachers to reflect on how barriers to learning can be overcome and how curriculum and provision can be even better used to develop resilient and independent learners, motivating them to grow in wisdom and stature.
Archdeacon Peter Spiers led the opening prayer, and Richard Peers (CEO) and Laurie Kwissa (Trust Education Officer) then reminded colleagues of the vision and values of the Trust and the journey so far.
Andy Wolfe, Deputy Chief Education Officer for the Church of England’s Foundation for Educational Leadership, then delivered the first keynote. In his address, in which he provided energising practical examples for bringing the Church of England’s vision alive, Andy encouraged reflection on how this vision can be used to remove disadvantage and promote greater social justice, enabling all learners to flourish.
This core message was further enhanced by Daniel Sobel, Founder of Inclusion Expert, who reminded professionals about some of the common mistakes made, reminding everyone that in order to make a difference, strategies need to be specific to the needs and barriers of individual pupils: knowing and loving our learners is key to this.
The workshops reinforced this central theme offering, for example, a humorous insight into how the brain grows and develops, from Dr Andrew Curran. In his workshop, delegates explored how a good teacher can look beyond behaviours and academic outcomes, to a child who wants to learn and is capable of learning, finding a child who is so much more than their behaviours or academic results.
More practical advice followed from Yvonne Sutton (School Improvement Liverpool) in a workshop encouraging colleagues to expand their understanding of the negative impact any barriers to learning can have. Her advice and practical suggestions are already enabling teachers across LDST to encourage children to develop their own strategies, so that they can maintain high aspirations and make progress across all aspects of the curriculum.
Wendy Gleave of Young Minds and Richard Peers, CEO of LDST, provided timely reminders of some of the mental health issues that young people face, with both of these workshops providing an opportunity to reflect on how mindfulness and pupil voice can improve wellbeing, enabling children and adults alike to become more resilient and determined in the face of adversity.
Curriculum development is a core priority at LDST and this INSET Day enabled all professionals to listen to how two schools have developed their curriculum. Andrew Percival (Stanley Road Primary School, Oldham) and Clive Wright and Rachael Thompson (Saint Martin’s Catholic Academy, Stoke Golding, Leicestershire and the founder of The Midland Knowledge Schools Hub) have all been trailblazers in developing a knowledge-rich curriculum. Both of these workshops reinforced the key message that in order to remove disadvantage, children need to be taught and retain knowledge so to become, for example, better historians, geographers and scientists. This key message was reinforced by Mark Quinn, OFSTED HMI, in the final keynote of the day.
Colleagues from across the Trust were inspired by the key-note speakers and practical workshops and have been busy since then reflecting on what they have learned and putting key strategies in place. They are confident that the key learning will drive them forward in ensuring the needs of all children are met.
The feedback from schools has been most encouraging. Mark Ward, Headteacher of St Thomas’ Church of England Primary School said: “This was a fantastic day with really high quality inspirational speakers – our staff came away buzzing!” He continued, “St Thomas’ has been part of the Trust since it first began in 2017, and the journey it has been on in just two years is quite remarkable, which was evident during the Trust’s INSET day. Not only have we grown in numbers considerably but as a Trust, collaboration and professional development are central in all that we do. If we can achieve this in just two years, it’s exciting to think what we can achieve in the next two years!
Jill Stratford, Headteacher of Huyton with Roby Church of England Primary School endorsed this viewpoint, appreciating the “inspirational day”, saying “the mix of provision for our school improvement needs and consideration for our spiritual needs was most appreciated. I felt really proud to be part of LDST and excited to be part of something that feels like it is growing and developing with every action taken”.
The INSET Day was a huge success and the excellent CPD provided enabled teachers and leaders themselves to grow in wisdom and stature throughout the day, as they considered that, in overcoming barriers, the most important things are to know and love the children we teach.
The INSET Day was a huge success: the excellent CPD enabled all delegates to grow ‘in wisdom and stature’, affirming the belief that to know and to love the children they teach is at the core of overcoming barriers to develop faithful, knowledgeable and resilient learners.