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5 top picks for The Schools and Academies Show in London

The Schools & Academies Show

The Schools & Academies Show will be hosted at the ExCeL centre, London, on May 1st and is a must-attend for educators and leaders looking to enhance their strategic plans and school improvement initiatives. Attendees can access top-tier content, expert insights, and valuable networking opportunities. The event also presents an invaluable opportunity to share your feedback with policymakers from Ofsted and the DfE; further details are provided below.

With over 125 incredible speakers, 30 hours of CPD available and 150+ exhibitors, plus 3000 attendees from the education community, we have a feeling that you’ll benefit from some assistance with curating your schedule!

With this in mind, the Quizalize (powered by Zzish) team has compiled a list of our 5 top picks from the show, alongside some advanced tips from seasoned event-goers to ensure you make the most of the event on the day. You can also talk to our EdTech Expert attending the show; check his agenda here.

1. Main stage highlights: driving change and how to influence Ofsted

From the opening Keynote Address from the Secretary of State for Education, to a fireside chat with Ofsted’s New Chief Inspector Sir Martyn Oliver, the Schools & Academies Show is hosting major speakers on the main stage in 2024.

The discussion with the Ofsted Chief, in particular, hosted by Jon Severs (Editor, TES), touches upon some valuable themes of contribution and inclusion for our sector. The interview promises to share Martyn’s take on “how to make your voice heard to Ofsted…to ensure that the inspection process is performed by the sector for the sector.” For leaders and educators alike, this will be an important chance to understand the best way to shape the future of school inspections directly from the source. 

Let’s hope that this discussion, part of the ‘Big Listen’ initiative, proves a significant step to instigate some much needed change in the institution. Afterwards, be sure to visit the Ofsted Hub directly for some help with demystifying inspections and to share your own feedback too.

2. Hear from trailblazers: the digital strategies driving successful teaching and learning outcomes

As academies across the UK make digital strategy a priority in 2024, EdTech Innovate this year hosts a specialist agenda of content dedicated to the role of technology in driving positive change. 

From the transformative potential of AI in education to crafting tailored digital strategies for enhanced teaching and learning outcomes, their program aims to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to introduce new initiatives to your institution’s digital framework.

Our hot pick? If you’re looking for a wide-ranging discussion on the latest in digital strategy combined with the latest insider tips on successful, trust-wide implementation, make sure to head over to Rethinking EdTech: Discussing the Future of Digital Technology in Education at 10:10am. Trailblazing digital trust figureheads Neelam Palmer and Gemma Gwilliam join a stellar panel of experts speaking honestly about the key challenges in the sector and debating whether schools’ technology strategy needs a total rethink. 

We always aim to leave any event inspired and ready to take practical action: fortunately, the panel will also be sharing valuable insights on developing clear, organisation-wide digital goals to ensure success.

3. So, You Want to Be a Top MAT CEO?

Yes, we’ve lifted the “clickbait” title straight from the first talk of the day on the MAT Stage. Yes, we do think that this talk is unmissable for any leader, whether the CEO role is in your past, present or future…or whether you simply want to understand more about the leadership that you interact with every day.

As MAT’s grow and evolve across the UK, bringing in failing and flourishing schools alike, the CEO role is constantly changing in scope, challenge and responsibility. With so much happening every day across your own organisation, it can be tough to prioritise sharing best practices with peers in similar trusts. 

We see this panel discussion as a “bootcamp” learning experience to do just that – by gathering top CEOs to share which knowledge, skills and behaviours separate a top-quality Trust CEO from the rest. 

Expect a diverse range of experiences from the impressive panel: Dr Jeffery Quaye OBE is a nationally renowned expert at transforming inner city schools and a trusted advisor to the government on educational policy. CEO Cathie Paine has overseen the growth of her trust from 4 schools to 60, starting her stellar leadership career as Britain’s youngest headteacher. Tom Campbell, as leader of E-ACT, leads a team of 2,500 and 18,000 pupils across England, winning MAT of the Year at the National School Awards in his second year as CEO. Samuel Henson, Deputy Chief Executive at the National Governance Association and policy lead for MAT governance, provides valuable oversight to the group. 

In a day already full of opportunities to strengthen your leadership capabilities, this talk stands out for us as the one not to miss.

4. Don’t miss the opportunity for direct, conversational insight from senior policymakers at the Department for Education

Let’s face it, even the most seasoned educational leaders can find it difficult to get to grips with the latest government educational policy. Not to mention the school business challenges presented in navigating DfE funding, resource management and compliance.

The Government Education Village at the heart of the show floor presents a unique opportunity to hear directly from (and question!) senior policymakers and leaders from the Department of Education. 

The DfE theatre covers a range of core topics throughout the day, and our top tip here is to carve out 20 minutes for a scheduled talk from a policymaker on your subject of interest, then head straight over to the wider team in question for a deeper dive. Indeed, we are particularly interested in the 9 dedicated team tables offering assistance with anything from teacher workload and wellbeing to guidance on best practices with pupil premium grants.

With new policy coming into effect around sharing attendance data and the Procurement Act in play, this is a valuable chance to ensure that you are fully up to date with the latest initiatives. Plus, a visit will undoubtedly prove a much more efficient use of your time than tracking events in Westminster!

5. Network, network, network!

As you’re already signed up to attend a show with 3000+ of your peers, we’d bet that you, (like us!) thrive on connecting with people who share your passion for education. We can’t let you go into the Schools and Academies Show without giving you a rundown of the best networking opportunities, alongside our very best tips to follow with any new connections.

As the saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail! The show gives all attendees access to ConnectEd, a pre-event networking platform that helps visitors make connections in advance and book meetings in the dedicated lounge area. The day will go by in a flash, so making sure that you have quality booked time in with new contacts is of the utmost importance. Pro tip: find your new connections on LinkedIn too, and drop them a friendly message ahead of time to make sure that you forge a memorable connection. 

Whilst we do advocate for a plan, of course some of the best connections made are spontaneous and often serendipitous! Make sure to head over to the Educator’s Networking Hour at 3:30pm in the Networking Area, with complimentary refreshments and a chance to debrief on the day. 

With so much to see, we recommend marking 5-6 ‘must have’ events in your diary before you step through the door! Use these as an anchor, with time slots for pre-booked meetings and breaks from on-stage content (find a time to see us here).

Finally, allocate dedicated time in your calendar to explore the stands and see what’s new in Education for 2024. Find the full agenda here and check out the floorplan in advance here

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