Rethinking Education Conference: Pedagogy, Practice and Putting Children First

This Conference has been created for you and your leadership teams whilst keeping children at the heart of all we explore. The day will provide a wealth of opportunities for you to feel inspired, refreshed and energised whilst hearing from experts in the educational leadership landscape.

workshop at leadership conference


Portait of a woman wearing a black top

Dr Sue Granger

Summary of keynote:

Within every cohort of school children who are engaging, learning and appearing content in school are countless neurodivergent children. They may be absolutely indistinguishable; you may not even know who they are. They are ‘coping well’. So when parents and carers report high anxiety and constant meltdowns at home, and flag up high concerns about mental health it may be very hard to make sense of. The truth is that the price of portraying a perfect neurotypical image is too high for any young person to bear for any length of time. The strain of monitoring every utterance, every facial expression, every action and repressing basic needs goes beyond what is supportable. So why don’t they ‘stop masking?’ and ‘tell us when they feel anxious?’ Because that would be worse. The need to fit in and belong is a basic human need, and from day one, autistic and other neurodivergent young people feel outsiders. The way they learn, play and behave is ‘different’ and the reactions they get from often well meaning staff and peers tell them so. Receiving stickers on their reward chart for sitting still and going to assembly confirms it. By the time an autistic child is in year 4 they mask so automatically and unconsciously they don’t know how to stop. But the statistics are showing us it is breaking their mental health, and sometimes irreparably.

This presentation looks at how we can reduce the need for neurodivergent pupils to mask in school. How we can tell when a pupil is masking, and what we can do to support them so that their mental heath does not suffer further.


Sue has worked in the field of autism and neurodiversity for over 20 years. After initially training in cognitive science and special education needs to doctorate level, she has worked with a wide range of autistic and neurodivergent children and adults in 1:1 settings, mainstream schools, specialist provisions schools and respite care. At the heart of this work is the belief that emotional well-being and positive mental health is key. Sue is currently an autism advisor for West Berkshire Council schools, where she is focusing especially on how to create school environments which can reduce the need to mask, and supporting the well-being of neurodivergent pupils. Sue is dyspraxic herself.

Lekha Sharma holding her book

Lekha Sharma

Summary of keynote:

Communicating your curriculum vision

Keeping ‘Rethinking Education’ at the heart of the talk, Lekha will explore how you can establish curriculum principles and practical ways in which you might communicate your curriculum vision as a leader to all stakeholders. The keynote will support leaders at all levels within education to consider the big picture of the curriculum and ensuring we engage through the macro and micro lens of curriculum development.


Lekha Sharma is a School Improvement Lead for the Avanti Schools Trust, leading on curriculum and assessment and has over ten years of experience teaching and leading in schools in a range of contexts. She is a postgraduate student at the University of Oxford studying Learning and Teaching and is also the author of Curriculum to Classroom (John Catt 2020). Lekha is passionate about making educational research accessible and digestible, allowing leaders and teachers to focus on applying the ‘best bets’ on the ground in their unique contexts.

Matt Goodfellow

Matt Goodfellow

Summary of keynote:

Reading and the Power of Poetry 

There has been a huge emphasis on reading in our schools over the last few years but, when the curriculum is so full, poetry is often the unit that is dropped to save time. As leaders, do we ask ourselves why or what impact this might have on our children and young people? 

In this keynote, Matt will explore the importance of poetry  and consider the questions: How does poetry offer young people and educators a chance to reclaim control of writing?  Why is accent and dialect so important? And, why can reading verse be so powerful when supporting our children and young people to fall in love with reading.


Matt is an award winning poet who spent 10 years working as a primary school teacher in East Manchester. His body of work ranges from KS1 to KS4. His most recent book is the highly-acclaimed verse novel ‘The Final Year.’

Kyrstie Stubbs

Summary of keynote:

Creating and maintaining a culture of equity and inclusion

How can we as leaders create and more importantly maintain, a culture of inclusion and equity when we are faced with all the issues that we struggle with daily in education currently.
How can we stay focused and remind ourselves of our core purpose?
It’s about being brave.




Kyrstie is currently a Deputy CEO and has experience within the primary sector within both the maintained and academy education sector spanning 20 years with over 10 years in executive and leadership positions. Her experience ranges from successful leadership within industry to successfully leading different schools in challenging circumstances improving them significantly through transformational leadership.
She has worked as a school improvement partner in a local authority supporting a range of schools in developing practices and leadership capacity and with schools both locally and Nationally to support them in supporting wellbeing and diversity and also supports leaders as an executive coach.
She works with Edgehill university as a visiting lecturer developing inclusion and diversity and has been on the LGBTQ inclusion board at Leeds Beckett University.

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