Review: SIMS Independent and International Conference 2017

Deborah Fisher, Head of SIMS Independent, discusses how schools offer inspiration to deliver teaching and learning excellence

It has been said that with inspiration, liberation and determination, you can reach any destination. There is rarely a truer statement than this in education, as any high-performing school knows.

Inspiration was at the heart of discussion at the SIMS Independent and International Conference, on 14th and 15th March at the Beaumont Estate in Windsor, which was attended by over 300 delegates from 136 fee-paying schools across the UK and worldwide.

Support the success of students and staff

Motivational coach, Pete Cohen, urged all attendees to silence the negative voices we all harbour at times. He shared some top tips for removing self-doubt and improving confidence that can release us to tap into our individual potential.

Many senior leaders I spoke to afterwards had plans to bring some of the techniques back to their schools. They could see how they would fit into school life and offer a simple way to help inspire both teachers and pupils to achieve their goals – inside and outside of the classroom.

Using data to get a clear picture of potential

Change has been a theme across The Alpha Plus Group in recent years, as speakers from two schools within the group explained.

Transforming the way achievement is recorded and reported on at DLD College London has made a real difference to students and staff alike. “Having access to more regular and detailed information on the achievement and effort of individuals and groups has improved the school’s understanding of what our students are capable of and helped to shine a light on best practice teaching, which is then shared across the school,” said Daphne Morgan, director of academic administration.

Raising student achievement in Dubai

There was some valuable advice from Tom McIntyre, head of secondary school at the School of Research Science in Dubai too. He spoke about how the popularity of his school has soared in recent years, particularly amongst non-Emirati families who represent around one-fifth of the school’s intake.

As an all-through school for 3 to 18-year-olds with more than 3,500 students on roll, the school is using technology to help boost the achievement of all students, including those who join with poor English Language skills. “Giving teachers the tools they need to track the achievement of individuals and groups more closely makes it easier for them to identify what support is needed by whom,” explained Tom. Key to the initiative has been a drive by the senior leadership team to encourage staff to work in different ways and make good use of the wealth of data in the school’s management information system – this has contributed to an impressive 79% of students at the school making higher than expected progress in English Language.  

The conference offered a great opportunity to inspire senior leaders and staff to go back to their schools armed with a variety of fresh ideas on how to challenge their staff to use the data they have to inspire pupils to achieve more.

Inspiration provides the firm foundation to unlocking potential – and it is this that can truly drive standards of teaching and learning, whatever the size and shape of a school. 

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