Speakers

Richard Gerver

Richard Gerver

Award-winning speaker, bestselling author and world-renowned thinker

Richard Gerver has been described as one of the most inspirational leaders of his generation. He is an award-winning speaker, bestselling author and world-renowned thinker.

Richard began his career in education, most notably as headmaster of the failing Grange Primary School. In just two years, he famously transformed the school into one of the most acclaimed learning environments in the world. He was celebrated by UNESCO and the UK Government for its incredible turnaround.
Richard has since transitioned to the global stage where he uses his trademark humour and natural style to deliver passionate, provocative and authentic speeches at live and virtual events. He draws upon the first-hand experiences and unique insights garnered from frontline education to explore the links between great leadership, human potential, change and innovation.
The three core principles underpinning Richard's philosophy are communication, empowerment and impact. He argues that great leadership is first and foremost about serving the needs of the people who work for you. His mantra: systems and structures change nothing; people do.
Most importantly, Richard is always humbled to be able to share his lifelong commitment to living, learning and laughing.

Chris Russell

Chris Russell

National Director for Education, Ofsted

Chris Russell was appointed as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors in 2006.

Prior to joining Ofsted, Chris worked in secondary schools, including as a headteacher. As an HMI he worked in the quality assurance team, and was a senior HMI in Ofsted’s South East region.

Chris was appointed to the post of director in 2014. He initially worked in the East Midlands and North West regions, and was also responsible for local authority inspections and multi-academy trust reviews. He took over as regional director in the South East region in 2016.

Katherine Cowell

Katherine Cowell

Regional Schools Commissioner for the North, Department for Education

Katherine Cowell started in her role as Regional Schools Commissioner for North in May 2020, following an interim position since July 2019. Katherine is also the Senior Responsible Officer for the Opportunity North East Programme.
Prior to this Katherine was Deputy Director within the north region from 2016. Katherine is an experienced civil servant with a broad range of experience including:
• an area director within the Cities and Local Growth Unit
• FE and skills policy
• an education advisor in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit

Professor Mel Ainscow CBE

Professor Mel Ainscow CBE

Professor of Education at the Universities of Manchester & Glasgow

Mel is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Manchester, Professor of Education at the University of Glasgow and Adjunct Professor at Queensland University of Technology. He is internationally recognized as an authority on the promotion of inclusion and equity in education.  Examples of his writing can be found in: ‘Struggles for equity in education: the selected works of Mel Ainscow’ (Routledge World Library of Educationalists series).

Caroline Derbyshire

Caroline Derbyshire

CEO, Saffron Academy Trust & Executive Headteacher, Saffron Walden County High School, Essex, national Chair of Headteachers’ Roundtable

Caroline is the CEO of Saffron Academy Trust (SAT) and the Executive Headteacher of Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS), the largest state school in Essex.

Before she was CEO, she was Headteacher of Linton Village College at a time when it received two consecutive ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted gradings and where she set up a Teaching School Alliance, a small MAT and became accredited as a National Leader of Education.
In Caroline’s five years at SAT, a further 3 primaries and 2 secondary schools have joined the Trust.  SAT was successful in its bid to run one of the first 6 Teaching School Hubs in the country and, in addition, SWCHS has a Computing Hub.
Caroline is an elected member of the East of England Headteacher Board, a Fellow of The Chartered College of Teaching and has co-authored a chapter on Flexible Working in the WomenEd book ‘10% Braver’.  SWCHS is a featured school in Tom Sherrington’s “The Learning Rainforest Fieldbook”.  In July 2021 she became Chair of the Headteachers’ Roundtable.

Simon Lock

Simon Lock

Digital Editor, TES

Simon is part of the senior editorial team at Tes and has been reporting on the education sector for five years. Focusing on teacher recruitment, retention and wellbeing, Simon hosts regular webinars and podcasts, working with school leaders and education experts to share best practice.

Judith Kidd

Judith Kidd

Head of Dixons Teaching Institute, Dixons Academies Trust and home to Bradford Research School

Jen Elliott

Jen Elliott

CEO, EPM

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Jen joined EPM in 1996. In 2012 she became a company Director and was appointed as EPM’s Chief Executive from January 2017.

Jen has worked with some of the largest Multi-Academy Trusts, supporting Academy leaders and CEOs with complex staffing issues such as large-scale restructures, TUPE transfers, high-level casework through to employment tribunal preparation. She has vast experience of working with trade unions and advising on the complexities of union recognition, industrial action, and consultation arrangements.

John Tomsett

John Tomsett

Author and educational consultant

John Tomsett taught for 33 years in state schools and was a teaching headteacher for 18 years. Until August 2021 he led Huntington School in York. He writes a blog called This Much I Know, and has written extensively about school leadership. 

He has published six books: Love over Fear: Creating a Culture for Truly Great Teaching; Mind Over Matter: Improving Mental Health in our Schools; Putting Staff First: A Blueprint for Revitalising our Schools (with Jonny Uttley); An Angler’s Journal; and Cognitive Apprenticeship in Action (editor). John’s latest book is called Huh: Curriculum conversations between subject and senior leaders, co-authored with Mary Myatt.
He maintains that the best thing for our students is that our teachers are happy, healthy, well-qualified, highly motivated, hard-working, well-trained experts; consequently, he believes we should put staff first. 

He is now engaged in supporting the next generation of school leaders, with a resolute focus upon improving the quality of teaching & learning, and developing the school curriculum. As the erstwhile leader of Huntington Research School in York, he believes that an evidence-informed approach is central to successful school improvement.

John Hardy

John Hardy

Headteacher, St. John Vianney Primary School, Hartlepool & Schools North East Chair

St. John Vianney School & Children’s Centre serves the community of the north of Hartlepool, a town on the north east coast of England. It caters for children from birth to 11 years-of-age and their families and provides access to services for the whole community. John Hardy joined the school in 2000 and since appointment has seen the pace of change accelerate. After building work, increased staffing and lots of other changes he now leads what might be called, ‘school plus’ offering an ‘extended menu’ of services to all the families of the community. With the emergence of the Teaching Schools movement, St. John Vianney RC School was designated in 2011 in the first cohort and now leads the Tees Valley Teaching School Hub.

John has been involved with Schools North East since its inception, attending the very first visioning day and presenting a workshop at the very first Summit at Wynyard and for the last few years has been Chair of Trustees.

When he has time, he enjoys gardening and walking but above all he loves to learn. He loves exploring new ideas, seeing possibilities and dreaming . . .

Maura Regan OBE

Maura Regan OBE

CEO, Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust & Trustee at Schools North East

Maura began her teaching career in London teaching History and RE, she returned to the North East to take a pastoral role before becoming Deputy Head Pastoral and subsequently Principal of Carmel College. Maura, as the architect of Carmel Education Trust, became its founding CEO having led the successful transformation of Carmel College from a single outstanding College to the lead school in a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). The Trust is recognised as a leading organisation nationally. In her role as an NLE, Maura and her Leadership Team have supported schools across the region from all phases.
Carmel College is one of the top performing schools nationally and is a Teaching School, a Maths Hub and leads a Science Learning Partnership. Carmel College has a long history of Initial Teacher Training and is now one of the largest providers in the North East.
Maura has been highly pro-active in supporting NETSP (North East Teaching Schools Partnership) in the delivery of NPQH, NPQSL and NPQML and a National College programme ‘Women into Headship’. Maura is regularly invited to be a keynote speaker for the National College NLE Induction Programme. She is a Trustee of Schools North East, Director of Emmanuel Trust and a Governor of Durham
School.
Maura is regularly invited to address national audiences on the benefits and complexities of establishing and leading a Multi-Academy Trust in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity, solidarity and support for the common good. She is passionate about making a difference and believes that ‘every child should be given every opportunity to succeed’.

Frank Norris MBE FCCT

Frank Norris MBE FCCT

Northern Powerhouse Partnership Adviser on Education and Schools

Frank is currently advising the Northern Powerhouse Partnership on education matters through a secondment from The Co-op. Previously, as CEO of the Co-op Academies Trust for six years, he oversaw the growth of the trust - which is one of the highest performing for disadvantaged students according to the Sutton Trust - from six to twenty-three academies.

He is a trustee at Great Academies Education Trust, Vice Chair of Liverpool Education Board and the independent chair of the Blackpool Education Improvement Board. In the latter position, he has been involved in developing the town's new 10-year education strategy and is currently developing the town's digital strategy.

Frank worked as HMI with Ofsted for 11 years during which time he was responsible for the development of school and local authority inspection frameworks. He created the self-evaluation form, introduced the contextual value added measure and the term 'outstanding'. He is less happy with the former initiative.