ODBST Leadership Conference Success

Just before our schools broke up for half-term, Oxford Diocesan Bucks Schools Trust held their first annual Leadership Conference at the Lane End Conference Centre. It was a wonderful chance for the central team, Trustees, Head Teachers and Chairs of Governors to come together in person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

The day was kicked off by challenging talks from both Malcom Peckham (Chair of Trustees for ODBST) and Sulina Piesse (CEO of ODBST), and some collaboration between the groups who were tasked with penning acrostic poems using the letters ODBST. This was followed by a spotlight on wellness, a subject that the central team and trustees are very passionate about. Prior to the end of the school year, the HR team at ODBST sent out a wellness questionnaire to highlight areas of need within the Trust and things that they could do to help all staff with their own mental and emotional wellbeing. This was the perfect opportunity to update those who took part about the changes the Trust had already made, like implementing their employee assistance programme open to all staff in the Trust and their families. There are more exciting changes coming in the future too, expanded CPD to contain more HR specific topics like our new Handling Difficult conversations with Staff, and drop-in sessions with the Leadership team.


Before the break for lunch was a jam-packed session delivered by the School Improvement Manager David Cousins, on Ofsted Inspection Updates for the Autumn term. The lecture included a look at the recent Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, and how as a Trust we can ensure that we have effective safeguarding in place across the board. We were also treated to a look at Early years Education and the updates that have come through Ofsted. All staff left the session with a wealth of knowledge and packs to help with the filtration of the updates to their schools after the half-term break.

After the conference broke for lunch, the afternoon saw a further four focus sessions. The first of which was a wonderful session led by Lucy McFarlane, Headteacher at Padbury School, on Diversity in Reading – why it matters and what schools can do. The delegates were treated to an informative look at the wealth of diverse books that are now available to schools and how they can be incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

This was followed by a look at the Pure Phonics and Cued articulation, developed by Jane Passey and used in Elmtree Infant and Nursery School. Sophie Palumbo took the conference on a practical journey through the method, which uses hand cues for teaching the individual sounds in a word, cued to its origins and production in the mouth, and all of us left with a much better knowledge of the method.

The third session was delivered by Lorraine Quirk, the Head Teacher of Christ the Sower Ecumenical School. This session pulled on her experiences of making the move from a school regarded by Ofsted as good, to a school in special measures. We looked at the key steps she took in driving the metamorphosis of the school and unlocking its full potential.

Closing the conference was David Cousins (ODBST School Improvement Manager) and a fabulous session on Character Education. Education for character is already integral to the work of excellent schools and an integral part of Ofsted’s Personal Development judgment. David provided our schools with an opportunity to consider recent guidance and the frameworks developed by the Trust to evaluate and provide evidence of their schools work in this area.

It was an insightful and challenging day for all those involved and a wonderful first annual Leadership Conference. Oxford Diocesan Bucks Schools Trust look forward to running more events like this in the future, bringing the schools in their Trust together to share knowledge, expertise and best practice to further the development of all the wonderful pupils, teachers and staff that are part of the ODBST family.