A vibrant conference programme, designed to inspire and inform. The programme links with the project themes for 22/23.

Getting it right in the classroom | 4 November 2022

Keynote 1: Developing Teaching Excellence – Mark Burns

Mark will introduce some research informed approaches to develop teaching excellence. Building upon more than a decade of proven track record in supporting teacher development, Mark will introduce ways to deepen dialogue, develop strategies to ensure feedback is impactful, and establish a shared language for teaching excellence.

The project will go on to support busy leaders to build impactful routines and habits in teams to develop the understanding about, and impact of, teaching over time. It will also unpick the common barriers that inhibit growth and provide strategies to overcome them.

Keynote 2: Happiness and Success in school: an injection of positive psychology! – Miriam Akhtar MAPP

What is positive psychology? Why is it important? Why is it relevant to schools? Leading positive psychologist, Miriam Akhtar MAPP, will join us (via the big screen!) to explore how and why positive psychology can make a positive impact in our schools. There is a virtuous relationship between happiness and success which is easily lost amongst the day-to-day challenges. By engaging with positive psychology we can strengthen this relationship and improve outcomes for the whole school community.

In this interactive session Miriam will challenge our thinking, help us to seek out strengths, overcome some of the barriers to happiness and share practices from the positive psychology toolkit.


Workshop 1 – Evaluating the intent of a curriculum workshop – Emma Adcock

In this hands-on workshop, VNET’s Principal Consultant, Emma Adcock will lead participants through the process of reviewing the INTENT of either a primary or a secondary school’s curriculum.

The session will provide participants with the opportunity to evaluate:

  • The school’s contextual information
  • The curriculum intent
  • A long-term plan for one subject
  • A detailed curriculum overview for one subject

Not only will participants will be provided with question stems to consider when evaluating the intent of ‘Not a Lot Primary’ or ‘Suprema High School’, but they will also write a short summary of the school’s curriculum and will provide some helpful steps the school might take to improve.

Workshop 2: Behaving Together – Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson’s book “Behaving Together in the Classroom’ has just been nominated for the NASEN best publication 2022 Award. Her work on behaviour in the classroom is strongly connected to inclusion and enabling all children to be supported to get the best out of their time in the classroom. 

This interactive workshop will enable participants to explore:

  • Behaviour as an innate form of communication
  • Emotional health and wellbeing
  • The network of relationships within a school’s community

Workshop 3: Talking patterns: Managing conversations in the classroom 

Drew Howard will lead this interactive session exploring techniques to increase learning impact through managing conversations in the classroom.  Using this approach positively impacts on pupils’ ability to recall knowledge, their ability to reason better and importantly, to enjoy their learning more. 

In the session delegates will:

  • Experience how this approach can support retrieval practice
  • Explore the difference between group-work and collaborative work 
  • Practice using a set of content-free structures that help promote thinking, discussion and comprehension

Meet your speakers:

Miriam Akhtar

Miriam Akhtar MAPP is a positive psychologist, wellbeing consultant, keynote speaker, trainer and educator. She is one of 100 global experts invited to contribute to The World Book of Happiness and The World Book of Hope, given to world leaders with a request to put wellbeing on their national agenda.She is the author of 3 positive psychology books – The Little Book of Happiness, Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression and What is Post-traumatic Growth.

Miriam was one of the first positive psychologists in Europe, graduating with distinction from the MSc in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP), a course established by Prof Martin Seligman to make the world a happier place.

Mark Burns

Mark spent 12 years as a full-time teacher. Over the last fourteen years, he’s co-written three best-selling books including Teaching Backwards and the award winning The Learning Imperative. Mark has a proven track record of supporting teaching and leadership development in schools across the UK and abroad through the learning programmes he designs and facilitates. His work was recognised as Gold Award winner at Learning Performance Institute Awards 2021 for People Development Programme of the Year.

Emma Adcock

Emma has just under twenty years of experience in the education sector, ten years of which she has spent working as an English Consultant for Norfolk Schools. She is a former head teacher, system leader and advanced skills teacher. She regularly provides additional leadership capacity for schools. This additional leadership has previously included: acting head positions, part-time assistant head roles and she has worked across schools as a teaching and learning coach to support Quality First Teaching. Emma is also an experienced trainer who regularly provides training for VNET schools on the following: curriculum design, subject leadership, Reading, Writing, Spelling and the explicit teaching of vocabulary.

Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson is an education consultant with varied roles including, author, Head of Behaviour and Inclusion for a London Borough, school improvement partner and keynote speaker. She has as a teacher and senior leader in education for twenty years including mainstream schools, Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision – spanning both primary and secondary. With a keen interest in pupil voice she uses this to inform her practice and work.

This conference is for VNET members only. Each member school has TWO free places!


Conference Schedule:

8.15am: Arrive/coffee

8.45am: Welcome

9.00am to 10.30am: Keynote 1

10.30am to 10.50am: Coffee

11.00am to 12.15pm: Workshops

12.15pm to 12.55pm: Lunch

1.00pm to 2.00pm: Keynote 2

2.15pm to 3.30pm: Workshops

3.45pm to 4.15pm: Tea/cake and Panel discussion, ‘What next for our Norfolk schools?’.

Mark Burns

Mariam Akhtar

Sarah Johnson

Leadership Conference | 10 March 2023

Join us for an opportunity for reflection, growth, and networking

Jolyon Morris – Building Organisational Resilience: The Key to Success

The resilience aspect of leadership is a core capability of leaders that determines their success, and that of their organisations. One of the key elements of developing our own resilience is to be wise to the extrinsic and intrinsic risks to our resilience and seek to manage those well.

Jolyon Morris is an organisational consultant and psychoanalytic psychotherapist. He has provided consultation to organisations, leaders and managers for 20 + years and prior to that held senior leadership roles in manufacturing and commercial businesses.

Viv Grant – Cultivating Brave Leadership: What This Means for School Leaders Today

Viv Grant will share insights into the personal qualities that school leaders need to cultivate in pursuit of leadership styles that can be characterised as brave, authentic and courageous.

‍As an executive coach, Viv now works extensively with headteachers and school leaders, helping them to overcome the challenges of their roles, so that they are able to maintain their humanity, joy, love for the profession and the communities they serve. As a pioneer in the field, the coaching provided by Integrity, has recently been the subject of an evaluation/research report for the National Education Union (NEU).

‍Her book “Staying A Head” is considered a seminal work in this area. Recognised as an expert in the field, she has contributed to various books and periodicals on the subject. As an expert commentator, her contributions have also been featured in The Guardian, London Live, Sky News, Radio Four, Woman’s Hour and the World at One.

Each member school has TWO free places!


This conference is for VNET members only.

Viv Grant

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