Our 2024 conference features an broad range of speakers, including trust voices, sector policy experts, and leading suppliers, all based around our theme of discovering the DNA of trust-led school improvement. More speakers will be announced shortly along with the full conference programme.


Associate Director of English, Outwood Grange Academies

Lisa has been teaching for nearly twenty years and has worked in a variety of schools across the East Midlands and the North East in departmental and whole school leadership roles. She has been a Director of English with Outwood Grange Academy Trust for eight years and leads on Immersive Reading and Literature. She is also an examiner for Eduqas and AQA in English Literature and is an NPQ facilitator for the National Institute of Teaching. Reading is a huge part of Lisa’s life and, with a 5 year old daughter, can recite Room on the Broom on demand! 


Associate Director of English, Outwood Grange Academies

Katharine has worked in many schools with high levels of deprivation during her teaching career as a classroom teacher and head of department. In 2015, she became an Associate Director of English and joined OGAT’s team of school improvement advisors. Over the years, she has worked alongside CEOs, principals, senior leadership teams, heads of department and teachers to coach and mentor, improve curriculums, refine teaching and learning and boost outcomes in English departments across the trust. She has oversight of the trust’s Accelerated Reader initiative and is passionate about using reading to improve the life chances of young people.

Carr OBE

Chief Executive Officer, WISE Academies

Zoe is Chief Executive Officer of WISE Academies in the north east of England. She has held this position since 2013. The trust works predominantly in areas of high deprivation across four local authority areas and currently consists of 13 academies who serve primary age pupils, one of which is a specialist provision for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs. She qualified as a primary school teacher in 1995 and went on to become an Advanced Skills Teacher in 2002. This position afforded her the opportunity to demonstrate excellent teaching across the local authority in which she was employed.
The last 18 years has been spent in school leadership. She gained NLE status in 2016 and was honoured in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list for services to education. Until recently she was an elected member of the Regional School Commissioner’s Advisory Board for the north, serving two terms of office for a period of eight years. She qualified as an Ofsted inspector in 2017 and continues to serve in this role. She became a trustee of Schools North East in 2021.


Co-Founder and Managing Director, ImpactEd Group

Owen Carter has led the development of ImpactEd since inception. He combines a passion for education and social justice with deep experience working collaboratively with schools. Prior to ImpactEd, he led a number of research and evaluation projects at education charity The Brilliant Club, and developed a digital platform for teacher professional development at Optimus Education. He’s a winner of the Teach First Innovation Award and part of PwC’s Tomorrow’s Business Leaders programme.

ImpactEd stemmed from Owen’s personal frustrations in seeing amazing programmes often not sustained due to a lack of appropriate evidence around effectiveness, while at the same time, money and energy was frequently invested in provision that may well have been genuinely detrimental to young people’s life chances.


Director of Education, Westcountry Schools Trust

Sue commenced her teaching career in 1990 as a further education lecturer and leader in County Durham. Sue enjoyed eleven years in this role whilst also having her three sons. In 2001, Sue decided to retrain as a primary school teacher. Whilst studying for a bachelor’s degree, Sue worked as a specialist teaching assistant in two County Durham primary schools, supporting pupils, often with special needs or those with English as an additional language. Sue graduated with an English degree and went on to achieve QTS in 2006.

A varied career in primary school teaching and leadership followed. During this time, Sue was accredited as an Advanced Skills Teacher and supported primary schools, as a member of the local authority school improvement team, to raise standards in English. As Assistant Vice Principal of a hard federation of three schools: a mainstream primary, mainstream secondary and 2-19 through special school, Sue had a wide portfolio of leadership responsibilities, including assessment and specialist provision. During this time, Sue completed two Masters’ degrees. The first, an MSc in leadership and organisational change and the second, an MA in education improvement journey of schools across the SW region.

Sue relocated to the southwest in 2012 and took up post as headteacher of a primary school. In addition to this core role, she inspected schools for Ofsted. After several years, Sue joined a large academy trust as Director of Inclusion. This role involved leading a multi-agency inclusion team. During this time, Sue was privileged to become a local leader of education (LLE) and supported the Department for Education, as an inclusion expert, in the 2014 revisions to key stage 1 and 2 statutory assessment tests.

In 2019, Sue was appointed as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors by Ofsted. Sue spent three happy years in this role before joining Westcountry Schools Trust in September 2022 as Director of Education. She also completed a post-graduate diploma in education policy. In addition to her role at WeST, Sue continues her role as a school inspector and undertakes commissioned work for academy trusts locally and nationally. She is also in the final stages of a PhD with research into social justice.

Cruddas CBE

Chief Executive, Confederation of School Trusts

Leora Cruddas is the founding Chief Executive of the Confederation of School Trusts – the national organisation and sector body for school trusts in England. She has advised successive governments and sits on several Department for Education advisory bodies. She was recently the vice chair of the Head Teacher Standards Review Group, a member of the external advisory group for the Schools White Paper, SEND National Implementation Board and the Regulatory and Commissioning Review.

Prior to founding CST, she was Director of Policy and Public Relations for the Association of School and College Leaders. Leora has six years of experience as a director of education in two London local authorities. She is a visiting professor at UCL Institute of Education.

Leora was made a CBE in the 2022 New Year’s Honours.

Professor Lee
Elliot Major

Professor of Social Mobility, University of Exeter


Lee Elliot Major is Britain’s first Professor of Social Mobility, based at the University of Exeter. He was previously Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust. His work is dedicated to improving the lives of children and young people from under-resourced backgrounds. He works closely with school leaders, universities, global employers and Governments to develop practical ways of improving educational and life prospects.

His latest book Equity in Education argues for a new approach and language for disadvantage and challenges deficit discourses in education. On its release the book was immediately ranked among Amazon’s 'Hot New Releases in Education’. His Penguin book Social Mobility and Its Enemies has attracted attention across the world. Lee is one of the most prominent public voices in national education debates and is invited to speak about the topic across the world.

He was awarded an OBE in the 2019 Queen’s Honours. He is the first in his family to go to university.
He currently sits on the Department for Education’s Schools Strategy & Delivery Advisory Group.

He holds several academic posts including Associate Member, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and Associate, London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and serves on the Strategic Advisory Network of the Economic and Social Research Council.



Head of School Surveys, TeacherTapp

Harry spent nine years teaching, then got increasingly interested in how teachers could get better at what they do. That question drove seven years of research and training, and three books. More broadly, he’s fascinated by how we can make things better, and the social, psychological and structural changes this requires.


Education Strategy Lead, STEM Learning Limited

As the Education Strategy Lead at STEM Learning, Dave heads a team of professional development and education specialists who deliver Department for Education-funded programmes across England. He aims to improve the quality, impact and equity of STEM education across the UK, especially in computing and technology, by leading the development of high-impact professional development, teaching resources, and curriculum enrichment activities in collaboration with national and international partners


Founder and CEO, Steplab

Josh Goodrich is the founder & CEO of Steplab, an organisation that aims to give schools the tools to run highly effective instructional coaching. He also spends some of his time as Deputy Principal of Aim Academy North London. Formerly, Josh was trust T&L lead for Oasis Academies, and an AP & English teacher at Oasis Academy Southbank


Director of Staff Development, The Mercian Trust

Tracy Goodyear is Director of Teacher Development at The Mercian Trust, which serves approximately 10,000 students across Sandwell and Walsall in the West Midlands. Tracy is also the Founder and Chair of the Trust-Wide CPD Leaders' Forum (www.trustwidecpdleads.com), a professional network dedicated to supporting colleagues leading CPD at scale. The Forum's members now serve more than 700,000 children across the UK by improving the quality and access to professional learning. Tracy is a mentor at The Social Mobility Foundation and an Assessor and Founding Fellow of The Chartered College of Teaching. She started her career as a secondary English teacher.


CEO, Westcountry Schools Trust

Rob commenced his teaching career in 1998 as a Maths teacher in Watford and then followed a fairly traditional career path including roles in four different local authorities.
Rob’s first headship was of a Secondary School in Worcestershire, then secondly of Ivybridge Community College in Devon.
During this time Rob was privileged to chair the National Headteachers Strategy group for the Youth Sports Trust (YST) and become a Director of Leading Schools South West.
April 2011 saw Rob become responsible for more than one school when a local primary school joined an embryonic Multi Academy Trust of two schools. Today Rob is the CEO of Westcountry Schools Trust, a vibrant family of 26 schools in the SW.
In addition to his core role Rob is delighted to have previously worked as an External Expert for the DfE and support the improvement journey of schools across the SW region.


CEO, Windsor Academy Trust

Dawn is Chief Executive Officer of Windsor Academy Trust, with 15 schools across five local authorities in Priority and Education Investment Areas across the West Midlands. Dawn became CEO in January 2022 having previously served as Deputy CEO and Education Director. Dawn is a member of the Confederation of School Trusts Improvement Inquiry and sits on two DfE Priority Education Investment Area Local Partnership Boards.

Dawn’s career has included her being the founder and Chief Executive of the Student Engagement Trust. She also spent 10 years at the Youth Sport Trust where she led two strands of the government’s Physical Education and School Sport Strategy for Young People. Dawn established the Youth Board for the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Director of Learning and PD Designer, Steplab

Peps Mccrea is the Director of Learning and PD Designer at Steplab, and a former maths teacher.


Executive Director of Education, Ted Wragg Trust

Siobhan grew up in Plymouth where from an early age she experienced the profound positive impact teachers could have on young people’s lives. She began her career as a SENDCo and Senior Leader in Primary schools across Cornwall and Plymouth, before becoming headteacher of Marine Academy Primary School at the age of just 27, leading the school to a double "Outstanding” judgement by Ofsted, most recently in 2022. Under her leadership, the school was the first free school to receive an outstanding judgement in the whole of the South West region.

With experience from every leadership level and having been an integral part of the success the Ted Wragg Trust has achieved to date, Siobhan continues to strive for excellence across our schools as our Executive Director of Education. Through her leadership of our schools, Siobhan embodies our strategic anchors of having the highest standards, being relentlessly positive in her collaboration and growing great people. Siobhan also supports schools outside our Trust as a National Leader of Education, Pupil Premium Reviewer and lead for our Steplab Coaching Hub and DfE Behaviour Hub at Marine Academy Primary.  


Consultancy Manager, Renaissance Learning

Tamsin has worked in numerous roles at Renaissance over the last 6 years, supporting teachers, leaders and research partners in getting the most out of solutions like Accelerated Reader and Star Assessments. She now heads up the dedicated Consultancy Team that work to meet the needs of school trusts large and small, with student outcomes at the centre. Combined with her work on other projects, Tamsin knows the importance of using data to provide insight into the things that matter most to school leaders. 


Dr Dan

Deputy CEO, Cabot Learning Federation

Dr Dan Nicholls is the Deputy CEO for Cabot Learning Federation, having been an Executive Principal and Principal. In the Deputy CEO role Dan has worked in the last decade on setting educational direction for the Trust and seeking a Trust Dividend that enables improvement across 35 schools. Following a PhD from University of Exeter, he has built a career in Education, from teacher of geography through to Deputy CEO, teaching and leading in a wide range of settings and phases. He leads the SW Disadvantage network, is chair of the Education Queen Street Group, is part of the CST enquiry in Trust School Improvement and writes blogs in support of colleagues and the sector to focus on leadership and disadvantage. @DrDanNicholls


Deputy CEO, Westcountry Schools Trust

Nat started his career as a Maths teacher at Eggbuckland, then worked at South Dartmoor and Camborne Academies. He later became Principal of Northampton Academy with United Learning and progressed to Executive Principal and Regional Director roles. As Regional Director, Nat worked with 17 Secondary Academies, guiding Principals and teams across Manchester, Yorkshire, the Midlands, and Bournemouth.

In September 2023, Nat joined WeST as Deputy CEO. He's dedicated to unlocking potential and removing barriers for disadvantaged students. Nat also champions simplicity in education, advocating a 'Keep It Simple' approach.

Sir Hamid
Patel CBE

Chief Executive, Star Academies

Hamid is the Chief Executive of Star Academies. He has led the trust since its inception. Hamid is passionate about the highest of ambition for children and young people from the most disadvantaged communities across the country, and this vision has guided the philosophy of the trust and his work in particular.

Hamid, as a National Leader of Education, is a member of several national and international strategic educational and policy forums. In this role, he has contributed to the development of strategies and programmes as diverse as teacher training, leadership development, community cohesion, curriculum reform and social mobility. Hamid is committed to the development of a strong and world-class academy sector, and actively works to improve its reputation. 

In recognition of his service to education, Hamid was made a CBE in 2015 and awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021.


Head of Teaching and Learning, Evidence Based Education

CJ is the Head of Teaching and Learning at Evidence Based Education. He is a former history and social studies teacher from his home state of New Jersey; he moved to the UK a decade ago to pursue postgraduate studies in education. In his current role, he helps develop content within the Great Teaching Toolkit, provides support for teachers and schools, and assists in conducting educational research. He has developed resources and spoken on a range of topics, but his perennial favourites are on measuring impact, the science of learning, and meaningful professional development.


Deputy Chief Executive, Confederation of School Trusts

Steve Rollett is Deputy Chief Executive of the Confederation of School Trusts (CST), the national organisation and sector body for school trusts in England. Before joining CST, he was Curriculum and Inspection Specialist for the Association of School and College Leaders. Steve has sat on a range of advisory bodies, including Ofsted’s curriculum advisory group. Most recently he has supported Oak National Academy and the Department for Education’s remote learning advisory group. Originally trained as a history teacher, Steve was a vice principal of one of England’s most improved secondary schools before moving into a career in education policy.


Senior Director of Science, Ormiston Academy Trust

I am Simon Shanks, a seasoned leader in science education with over 15 years of experience. For three years, I held the esteemed position of National Lead for Ormiston Academies Trust, one of the UK's largest MATs. My focus on recruitment, retention, and delivering high-quality CPD underscores my commitment to advancing the field.

As the founder of the Secondary Science Federation, I have spearheaded collaborative efforts among educators and institutions to elevate science education nationwide. Through strategic partnerships with leading Secondary Science organizations, I have amplified the impact of initiatives in the sector.

My leadership aims to inspire and guide educators toward excellence, contributing to the ongoing evolution of science education.


School Improvement Lead, Avanti Schools Trust

Lekha Sharma is a school improvement lead for the Avanti Schools Trust, leading on curriculum and assessment and has over ten years of experience teaching and leading in schools in a range of contexts. She is a postgraduate student at the University of Oxford studying Learning and Teaching and is also the author of Curriculum to Classroom (John Catt 2020) and Building Culture(John Catt 2023).


Professorial Research Fellow, Education Endowment Foundation

Jonathan is seconded from the Social Science Research Unit at University College London’s Institute of Education. He works with schools and policy makers across the education sector to promote evidence-informed practice, and spread knowledge of ‘what works’ in teaching and learning.

He has previously worked at The Institute for the Future of the Mind, at Oxford University, and as a secondary school science teacher in Sydney. He is the author of Evidence for the Frontline, a report published by the Alliance for Useful Evidence that outlines the elements of a functioning evidence system.

Jonathan co-authored the EEF's 'Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants' and 'Putting Evidence to Work: A School's Guide to Implementation' guidance reports.

Dr Sam

Research Lead, Ambition Institute

Sam Sims is Research Lead at Ambition Institute and a Lecturer at UCL Institute of Education. His research focuses on teachers, teaching, and teacher professional development. Along with Becky Allen, he is co-author of the book The Teacher Gap. You can find him on X @DrSamSims.   


Executive Director, Reach Foundation

James Townsend is an Executive Director at the Reach Foundation, where he leads the Cradle to Career Partnership and Reach's leadership programmes for aspiring Head Teachers and and Trust CEOs. James has previously held leadership roles at Teach First and STiR Education, where he helped found and grow the organisation to reach over 200,000 teachers globally. He started his career as a history teacher in east London. 

Vainker OBE

CEO, Reach Foundation

Ed Vainker is the CEO of the Reach Foundation. He is the co-founder and former Principal of Reach Academy Feltham and the co-founder of the Reach Children's Hub, part of Reach's Cradle to Career model in Feltham. He works with school trusts around the country to help them develop their own "Cradle to Career" models.

Ed chairs the Hounslow Education Partnership and is on the advisory board of the Children's Commissioner and the Royal Foundation's Centre for Early Life. He is an ambassador of Teach First and spent three years with Teach for All based in Washington DC prior to founding Reach Academy Feltham.


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