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Small Schools Conference - Embracing Opportunity

Event Date: 26 April 2023

A positive look to the future, focusing on embracing both the challenges and the opportunities which leading a small school can bring.

This is a half day conference for school leaders, headteachers, deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers and senior teachers who have accepted the ultimate challenge – leading in a small school.

Key Notes from Tanya Ovenden-Hope provost and professor of education at Plymouth Marjon University and visiting professor at Canterbury Christ Church University and Dr. Cath Gristy school teacher and member of the academic staff at the University of Plymouth.

  • Professor Ovenden-Hope’s research explores rural, coastal and small schools, questioning the political context in which small schools in England function. How does this context support and/or challenge small school leaders? What can small school leaders do to get a fair deal for their schools? In this keynote Professor Ovenden-Hope will try and ‘make sense’ of three key areas of educational policy that impact small schools: the development of varied school types (e.g., academy; local authority maintained) and the preference for large MATs; the national school funding formula and different expectations for school budget management by school type; and the statutory requirement for the same national school performance measures for all school types (regardless of size).

  • Dr. Cath Gristy will conclude the morning with a survey of recent research in small schools in the UK, including consideration of the research on mixed aged teaching. The conference will also be an opportunity to hear from several schools.

We will also hear from Executive Headteacher, Emma Hickling, about her inspiring journey from leading a single small school to developing this into a successful multi-school federation and headteachers, Vicky Solly and Jacky Cox, who will share their evolving mixed-age curriculum and subject leadership model, the result of a close collaboration between two coastal rural schools in south Kent.

There will be opportunities to network with other school leaders throughout the morning.