2019 Conference Speakers

Andy Buck

A geography teacher by trade, Andy went on to become a headteacher for thirteen years at two schools in east London.  In his second headship, his school was judged outstanding and he was designated a National Leader of Education.  In 2009, he was appointed as a director at the National College for School Leadership and in 2012 was made Managing Director at one of the largest academy groups in the UK.  

Andy has subsequently founded two organisations: Leadership Matters and #honk.  Both aim to improve the educational outcomes for pupils by supporting great leadership development for leaders at all levels in the system. 

He has written five books on educational leadership, including the best-selling ‘Leadership Matters’. In 2018, Andy was invited to become a Founding Fellow of the College of Teaching.

Floyd Woodrow

"We sometimes assume that success is bestowed on the lucky few, but the truth is that success is much less about luck or chance than hard work."


When you get a message from a long-time Associate and experienced headteacher saying she has just been on the best leadership training course she's ever, ever been on, then you know you're on to something special and need to find out more about what made it so good.


And when you find out that the person running that course, Floyd Woodrow, is a decorated former SAS major and head of the counter-terrorism unit and the training programme was about values and being human, you know it is even more special than you thought.


What makes Floyd stand out isn't that he was one of the youngest ever recruits to the Special Air Service where he then spent over 20 years, that he received the Distinguished Service Medal for his work in Iraq and an MBE for his work in Afghanistan, or that he led the UK's Counter Terrorism Unit and has 'Hostage Negotiator' on his CV.


It isn't even that his clients these days include organisations such as the Welsh and Scottich Rugby Football Unions or the English Cricket Board.


What makes Floyd stand out is that he has done all of this with a clear focus on values, integrity and compassion and it is this that comes through loud and clear in his work on leadership with adults and on achievement, aspirations and motivation with young people.


'I was given many leadership roles at a young age,' he says, 'but I never really understood what leadership actually was until my mid-thirties.  I wish I had been taught some of the things I now know much earlier in my life.'


Claire Birkenshaw


"You can use all the labels you like but ultimately you are talking about a human being."


It might not seem like it at times, but we are genuinely living in a more enlightened age, one where issues of equality, sexuality, identity and gender are far more frequently discussed and, hopefully, addressed.


And about time too.  There have been too many people suffering in silence for too long.


Education in general - and schools in particular - have such an important part to play in supporting and pushing this new spirit of inclusivity and openness, which is why we are delighted that eductator and campaigner Claire Birkenhsaw has become one of our most recent Associates.  


Claire hit the national headlines in 2017 as the first UK headteacher to transition in post and, as you may imagine, it was a tumultuous time for her.  The challenges she went through, before and during that time, were made all the worse by fear, intolerance and ignorance - not from the children in her school who were open minded and compassionate but from adults whose view of humanity was limited to 'people like us'.


It is exactly these views that Claire is working to confront now in her work not only as an Associate but also her speaking engagements with local, national and European governments and advisors as well as her recent appointment as a Lecturer in Childhood and Education at Leeds Beckett University's prestigious Carnegie School of Education following her work at the university supporting their Centre for LBGTQ+ Inclusion in Education.


Becky Parker


After a physics degree and research at the University of Chicago, Becky taught in a variety of schools and found when she offered genuine research opportunities to her students they thrived in the subject, girls and boys alike.  She set up the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) to scale up this approach and is its director.  IRIS is based at the Science Museum and Becky’s teaching base is in Sheffield.  


Becky was awarded an MBE in 2008.  She is visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London.  In the summer of 2016 she was awarded the Kavli Education Medal from the Royal Society.


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