Reflections on the Heads' Conference - Head's Blog

Posted on: 05/10/2018

Last week I had the privilege of joining with 400 other Independent School Heads from all over the UK and overseas at the annual Head’s Conference. I spent three full days listening to interesting and thought-provoking speakers and having the opportunity to network with fellow Heads to discuss and share our expertise and experiences.  

I must admit that on several occasions I did sit back and smile (I hope not too smugly) as some of the speakers highlighted key aspects for improving the education of young people and I reflected that, at St. Helen's College, we are already doing these things very well...

  • Harriet Marshall - Building a sustainable future and global citizenship for our children by promoting the United Nations Global Goals. This is our third year in supporting this at school and only on Tuesday of last week we revisited this with the launch of ‘The World’s Greatest Lesson’ in Upper School assembly.

  • Dr. Ruth Graham - Discussing future engineers in our school and promoting STEAM. Didn’t we just have our STEAM Day two weeks ago!

  • Julie Robinson - The importance of partnerships between the independent sector and state schools. We have numerous partnerships already in place, not only for pupils' benefit but also for staff professional development.

  • Chris Jeffrey - Developing and embedding a culture of wellbeing through mindfulness, positive psychology, time to talk, starting with the why and being human first…. Chris was 'preaching to the converted' here - in fact, we were one of the first schools to introduce these tools for ensuring the wellbeing of our children.

  • Lucy Crehan (yes, Mr. and Mrs. Crehan’s daughter Lucy was one of our keynote closing speakers!) - Discussing her book Cleverlands, Lucy looked at what the top performing schools around the world are doing and how this could impact our practice, including removing setting from subjects, deploying resources effectively and less one to one support which has very little evidential impact from research. At St. Helen's College, we began to implement these recommendations very early indeed and are constantly reviewing the effectiveness of educational techniques such as setting and support.

One speaker whose wisdom inspired humility and awe was Lord Dr. Michael Hastings of Scarisbrick, CBE.

He discussed the AI revolution and being ready for 2030. In his presentation he made reference to the World Economic Forum report and the vital skills which will be most desired by employers by 2020. These were listed as:

  • Creativity.

  • People management.

  • Coordinating with others. 

  • Emotional intelligence. 

  • Judgement and decision making.

  • Service orientation. 

  • Negotiation skills.

  • Cognitive flexibility. This involves creativity, logical reasoning, and problem sensitivity.

I do believe  that our curriculum and the opportunities pupils have here at St. Helen’s College are ticking every one of these skills!  In the full report it discusses the skills which will be required but also those which will be in rapid decline. Emotional intelligence will be one of the top skills required, with active listening almost disappearing. ‘Robots may help us to get somewhere faster….but they cannot be more creative than we are’.  

The CIA in the USA recently posted an advert in the Economist. The job spec stipulated: intellectual, curious adventurers. No work background was specified.

I am sure you can see where I am coming from…..your children are the future, so let’s keep supporting them in developing the correct skills through our academic and holistic curriculum to enable them to be ready for their futures.

I am signposting you to a Ted Talk by Lord Hastings..’The Empowerment of Purpose’.


Mrs. Drummond