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BSJT Staff Conference

BSJT Staff Conference

Graeme Searle
Graeme Searle
BSJT Staff Conference

On Monday 5th November 2018, BMS hosted the Bushey St James Trust Staff Conference on ‘Establishing a Culture of Stretch and Challenge’.  As the reformed GCSE, A-Level and vocational qualifications require more from the students, it it vital that we stretch and challenge our learners as often as possible to provide them with the relevant skills to obtain the Level 9s, A* grades and Distinction levels in their examinations.

As the same is true of Key Stage 2 SATs, the staff from Little Reddings Primary School and Hartsbourne Primary School joined us for the day to attend the training and gather ideas to improve practice in the classroom.  In addition to this, the BSJT Conference was advertised on the national ‘By Leaders For Leaders’ website and thirty external delegates from schools across the country – ranging from Bournemouth to Leicester – also attended.

After registration and refreshments in the restaurant, the day began with Jeremy Turner, Executive Principal of the Bushey St James Trust recapping the journey of our trust from inception to present day.  This allowed staff to reflect on the ground we have covered thus far as we rarely have the opportunity to do this during our busy daily schedules.

Our keynote speaker, Sue Mordecai then took the stage to speak to us all about why we should establish a culture of stretch and challenge and offered us a plethora of ways in which to achieve this.  Having started her career as a history teacher, Sue Mordecai has worked in both primary and secondary schools, moving on to roles as head of school improvement in a local authority, associate tutor at Oxford Brookes University, and as an adviser to the International Charles Darwin Trust.  Sue has contributed to national materials commissioned by both Welsh and English governments, represented the National Association for Able Children in education (NACE) on government advisory bodies and authored many articles and resources related to more able learners, as well as contributing to the editorial board of the journal Gifted Education International. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

For the rest of the day, staff attended a series of workshops that they had previously signed up to, all of which were based on the theme of the day.  These included:

  • Developing Brain Power – presented by Mr Searle (Assistant Headteacher)
  • The Power of Display for Learning – presented by Miss Lindau (Advanced Lead Teacher for psychology)
  • Rip It Up! Using the work of peers to extend learning – presented by Mrs Hoskins (Advanced Lead Teacher for art and media)
  • Reinforcement, Retention and Retrieval – presented by Mrs Davey (Advanced Lead Teacher for science)
  • The Language of Enquiry in Collaborative Learning – presented by Mrs Bowe (Lead Practitioner for English)
  • Establishing a Culture of Challenge within the Classroom – presented by Miss Farook (Lead Practitioner for English)
  • Maximising the Use of Teaching Assistants – presented by Miss Ahluwalia (SENDCo)
  • Challenge Anneka: Education Special! – presented by Mr Lester (Head of Key Stage 4 English) and Mr Johnson (teacher of English)
  • Physical Resources to Challenge Students – presented by Miss Walters (Head of religious studies) and Mr Symeou (teacher of PE and science)
  • Deepening Learning through Mastery – presented by Mrs Hassett (primary school teacher) and Mr Wells (primary school lead for maths)

The feedback from all attendees was extremely positive and I am already thinking about next year’s event.  Teaching is a complex and busy profession (although extremely rewarding), our staff work very hard to support the students in fulfilling their potential, so the more practical advice and tips on stretching and challenging the students offered the better.  I have already witnessed many of the points discussed during the day feature in the classrooms across BMS.

As parents, I thought you would like to know that the majority of Sue Mordecai’s presentation was based on literacy.  It was very clear that owning a good grasp of literacy – being able to read and write confidently and having an extensive vocabulary – is the key to success, in terms of a person’s future occupation and social life.  The more a young person reads, the better their grasp of literacy will be and the more success they will experience.  The more books / magazines / newspapers there are within a household and the more children see their parents reading, the greater the chance of our young people following suit.

With this in mind and Christmas on the horizon, an annual subscription to a magazine or a highly recommended book would make a great present for your child.  This could be a surprise or perhaps you could discuss this with them beforehand to ensure you purchase a suitable title.  Failing this, books in charity shops are extremely cheap, there are book swap shelves located in many places nowadays, there are audiobooks available and there is an extensive range of reading material in the Learning Resource Centre at BMS.


‘An invaluable experience for building links across the trust. It was a pleasure to meet colleagues across our trustee schools and begin building on a project to further enrich student learning’.  Mr Lyley – Head of history (BMS)

‘Although I delivered the same workshop on carousel, all three of my sessions felt very different. I liked how the varying group dynamics, and subjects that were represented, naturally shifted the focus and outcomes of our discussions/activities. It was especially good to benefit from the perspective of our visiting delegates from other schools.’  Mrs Bowe – Lead Practitioner for English (BMS)

‘Working together as a larger Maths team (including Little Reddings and Hartsbourne), was a real breath of fresh air.  It was exciting to explore ideas that would bring greater opportunities for students from across the trust to have joint experiences.  Another exciting element was sowing the seeds for cross phase teaching experiences.  We even managed to schedule a cross phase pizza party!  Looking forward to working together in the future!’  Mr Varsani – Extended Leader and Faculty Leader for maths (BMS)

‘Sue Mordecai led a really engaging and informative session that provided top tips and practical strategies for developing stretch and challenge within the classroom. It was great to have the resources and names of websites that can be used as resources for lesson planning. I also really enjoyed working with colleagues from other schools and settings and discussing the ways they implement stretch and challenge in their contexts – it was a powerful reminder of how schools across the country have the potential to collaborate and work alongside each other to support children across the UK in achieving their potential.’  Miss Farook – Lead Practitioner for English (BMS)

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