Annual Conference and AGM 2019

Annual Conference and AGM 2019

Leading Learning, Leading Teams - Glasgow, 21 and 22 November

Booking for this event is now closed

Draft programme

Thursday 21 November

0900-0945  Keynote session 1: John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister

0945-1045  AGM

1045-1115  Coffee                                               

1115-1215  Workshops

  • TA1 - Lead Meet
  • TA2 - The Language of Connection
  • TA3 - Joining the dots: Adversity, attainment, resilience
  • TA4 - LGBT inclusion in primary and early years 
  • TA5 - Excellence in Headship programme

1215-1315  Lunch (With optional Mindfulness session run by DoBeMindful)                 

1315-1415  Workshops

  • TP1 – Making sense of Data
  • TP2 - The Language of Connection
  • TP3 - Joining the dots: Adversity, attainment, resilience
  • TP4 – My leadership philosophy

1415-1445  Coffee

1445-1545  Keynote session 2: Sue Palmer

Pre-dinner drinks

Pre-dinner speaker: Dean Taylor, President of NAHT Cymru

Conference Dinner


Friday 22 November

0915-1000  Keynote session 3: Jason Leitch

1000-1030  Coffee

1030-1130  Workshops

  • FA2 - Play, Learn & Grow
  • FA3 - Navigating the school environment with ACE's
  • FA4 - Building Resilience

1130-1145  Coffee

1145-1245  Workshops

  • FP1 - Making sense of Data
  • FP2 - Getting curricular transitions right
  • FP3 - Navigating the school environment with ACE's
  • FP4 - LGBT inclusion in primary and early years

1245-1345  Lunch (With optional Seated Yoga session run by DoBeMindful)

1345-1445  Keynote session 4: Steve Munby

Keynote speakers

Sue Palmer: “Literacy, language and learning”

The human brain is brilliantly adapted for learning – we are, as a species, genetically programmed to explore, experiment, conceptualise and communicate. Much of our success depends on the development of language, approximately 100,000 years ago, and (99,000 years later) literacy, which allows the accurate transmission of knowledge across space and time. Ever since systems of formal education began, they've been founded on the acquisition of literacy skills.

However, during the last seventy years our species has made another great leap forward: ICT is now transforming the way we teach and learn.

This presentation looks at the implications of digital learning for the teaching of literacy.  Will reading and writing skills still remain central to school-based learning?  And, if not, what skills should schools aim to develop in their place?

About Sue: Sue was a primary head teacher in the Borders in the early 1980s.  As a full-time literacy specialist between 1985 and 2005, she wrote over 200 books, software packages and TV programmes for schools, as well as many hundreds of articles for the educational and national press. She was also the literacy consultant to BBC Education for many years and produced materials for England’s National Literacy Strategy, the National Literacy Trust and the Basic Skills Agency. 

Over the last ten years, her books on child development in the modern world – notably Toxic Childhood (second edition 2015) – have led to frequent media appearances and comments about changes in children's lifestyles and the decline in active, social, outdoor play. She is now Chair of Upstart Scotland.

Jason Leitch: “What matters to you, and what might matter to your staff, your pupils and their families?”

How many of our conversations are truly meaningful?  So many of our exchanges in everyday life are transactional: for example a couple of minutes of discussion between you and a colleague during a staff meeting. A few words with a pupil in the corridor in between lessons.  Transactional conversations are absolutely fine in many contexts - they achieve the goal. But often, when life gets tricky and things get complicated we need more meaningful interactions, those that shift the focus from "what's the matter?" to "what matters to you?".

Scotland is at the forefront of the rapidly-growing international “What Matters To you?” (#WMTY) movement.  Healthcare workers, social workers, teachers and many others are now using “What Matters To You?” to get a better understanding of what actually matters to people around them. In this interactive session, delegates will spend time understanding this powerful approach, on their own experiences and on applying learning from #WMTY movement to their day to day working life.”

About Jason: Jason has worked for the Scottish Government since 2007 and in January 2015 was appointed as The National Clinical Director in the Health and Social Care Directorate. He is a Scottish Government Director and a member of the Health and Social Care Management Board. He is one of the senior team responsible for the NHS in Scotland.

He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Dundee and was the 2011 UK Clinician of the Year.  He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). He was a 2005-06 Quality Improvement Fellow at IHI, in Boston, sponsored by the Health Foundation.  Jason is also a trustee of the UK wing of the Indian Rural Evangelical Fellowship which runs orphanages in southeast India.

He has a doctorate from the University of Glasgow, an MPH from Harvard and is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.  He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Steve Munby “Imperfect Leadership”

Too often we hear talks or read books about perfect leaders; super-hero leaders who are hugely successful and are exceptionally good at what they do.  It is supposed to inspire us to emulate them but it actually has the reverse effect.   I believe that the concept that we need to be good at all aspects of leadership is not only unrealistic, it is bad for the mental and physical well-being of leaders, who may end up striving to be the kind of leader that doesn’t really exist.  The more we seek to become the perfect leader, the more likely we are to disempower those around us.  This speech will outline the key aspects of “imperfect Leadership” and explain why embracing imperfect leadership  is so important for our existing and future leaders in education and, indeed, in Government!

About Steve: Steve Munby is a self-employed consultant and speaker on leadership and on system reform.  He has spent his whole career in education, commencing as a secondary school teacher in Birmingham.  He retired in 2017 as Chief Executive of Education Development Trust, an international education charity working in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.  Between 2005 and 2012, Steve was Chief Executive of the National College for School Leadership in England.    In 2016 he wrote a think-piece with Michael Fullan: “Inside-out and downside-up. How leading from the middle has the power to transform education systems.”   Steve’s new book: “Imperfect Leadership – A book for leaders who know they don’t know it all” will be published by Crown House in early July 2019.   Steve is also the facilitator for the ARC summits (education systems from around the world committed to equity, excellence, well-being and social justice).   He is Visiting Professor at University College London Institute for Education and is Chair of the Teaching Awards Trust.

Workshops (Listed in the order they appear in the programme)


You may have heard about ‘Teach-meets’…this is the same but for AHDS members to share and reflect on the challenges, successes and opportunities faced as a school leader. 

There is no formal theme or agenda for this session – some call this an ‘Un-conference’!  We realise that during our more traditionally organised workshops members often get as much from the peer to peer reflective conversations as they do from the sessions themselves.  In these Lead-Meet sessions, your successful work or your intractable problem will be the prompt for the discussion and learning. 

Delegates will be asked to submit a note of the theme they want to speak about in advance of the session so that we can curate the discussion…to make sure we don’t have twenty presentations on the same thing – or to bring in an external speaker for a slot if a big theme does arise.

Each discussion will follow four key stages:

1.    Member’s brief presentation.

2.    Question and answer session.

3.    Group troubleshooting sessions.

4.    Personal reflection and planning.

This session will be led by Ann McIntosh, AHDS Past President.

“The Language of Connection”

Around 2012, the team at Pitteuchar East Primary began to discuss the impact of childhood trauma on children’s behaviour, and the language they used around this issue. In fact, they were talking about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) before they knew to call them that. Jennifer’s story has inspired hundreds of people to recognise the dangers of labelling behaviours as ‘challenging’, and to see such behaviours through a very different lens.

Jennifer Knussen has worked in education since 1989 and has been a Head Teacher for 12 years. Her initial B.Ed and her Masters Degree both focussed on interpersonal relationships, and how these impact on how a group can fail or function. Her research in this area continues.

Jennifer says: “Our school has always been a nurturing one, and our behaviours mirror our values: Nurture, Compassion, Inclusion and Respect.

We understand, and act upon, the fact that everyone needs to feel safe, happy and valued in school, to learn (and teach) effectively.

In this presentation, I will share how we changed behaviour by changing our language and our approach. It cost nothing, required no specialist training, and brought about significant improvements in our ethos. Gone are the detentions and behaviour charts, now replaced with a quiet dignity and recognition of everyone’s worth.

Ours has been a long journey, which we are happy to share. I hope you will be able to use our experiences (and my many mistakes!) to enhance your own journey.”

“Joining the dots: Adversity, attainment, resilience”

The National Improvement Framework for education in Scotland sets out the twin aims of excellence and equity.  Schools are now increasingly focussed on raising attainment for everyone and in particular on closing the “poverty related attainment gap”.

Nearly everyone would agree with the aims, but what should we do?  There are a number of dilemmas for schools and school leaders ranging from how to spend Pupil Equity Fund money to how effectively we can address in school issues that often lie outside it, or have their origins earlier in life.  At the same time, increased awareness of the impacts of adverse childhood experiences brings a consciousness that promoting headline attainment might be at the expense of wellbeing and thus counterproductive.

This session shows how the complexity can be reduced by understanding the attainment “gap” as a whole set of different gaps that present in different combinations for each student, class, school and community.  It will offer a simple framework to assist in assessment, reflection and planning that can be combined with the National Improvement Framework and, in doing so, joins the dots between childhood adversity, attainment and resilience.

This session will be led by James McTaggart, Principal Educational Psychologist with Highland Council.

 “LGBT inclusion in primary and early years”

This 1-hour workshop led by Caitlin Wood from LGBT Youth Scotland will focus on LGBT inclusion in primary and early years. The session will aim to build on the knowledge, confidence and skills of participants in supporting LGBT learners. There will be a focus on terminology and definitions; helping participants feel confident in their use language, an overview of policy and legislation specific to LGBT inclusion work in schools and lastly, practical scenarios allowing participants to put into practice their ideas and solutions guided by tips for best practice.

LGBT Youth Scotland is Scotland’s national charity for LGBTI young people, working with 13–25 year old’s across the country. They play a leading role in the provision of quality youth work and are a valued and influential partner in LGBTI equality and human rights. LGBT Youth Scotland also deliver the LGBT Charter programme and training to schools, organisations and businesses. Working with over ¼ of schools across Scotland, the LGBT Charter programme supports schools in creating LGBT inclusive environments from practice to policy through a whole-school approach. 

"Excellence in Headship programme" 

The Excellence in Headship (EiH) team will engage delegates in looking at the implications of HT Charter and empowerment for primary HTs.  The team will deliver an active session in which you will hear about how the EiH offer has expanded and evolved to support HTs in the light of this, what is on offer and how you can get involved

 “Making Sense of Data”

Join Sharon Hayward and Paul Fleming, attainment advisors from Education Scotland, in taking a practical look at using data in our schools.  Throughout this session Sharon and Paul will share key learning from research.  They will unpick the key principles of using data for school improvement which leads to a more equitable provision for our learners. 

Participants can expect to learn about evidence-based approaches to making sense of the wide range of data we hold in school, some rich discussions and some ready-to-use strategies to add to your data use toolkit.

“My Leadership Philosophy”

This workshop will be led by Lisamaria Purdie, winner of 2019 HT of the Year.  Lisamaria, HT of the year 2019, will share her leadership journey in Scottish Education and approach to school leadership.

“Play, Learn & Grow - a journey towards play and outdoor learning.”

This workshop, led by Linda Reed (HT of Garnetbank Primary School, Glasgow) follows the journey of an urban Glasgow school, which received the Nancy Ovens National Play Award for developing their grounds for play and outdoor learning.  Delegates will consider how Garnetbank Primary School is transforming the grounds, making the most of breaks and lunches, enhancing outdoor learning, managing loose parts play and developing play pedagogy. 

Linda will share the barriers and opportunities they have faced and share practical examples of interesting play experiences and resources used.  Delegates will also consider how staff, children and parents have been supported along the way to develop a shared understanding and vision. For more information follow @PlayLearnGrowG1.

“Navigating the school environment with ACE’s: The difference between survival and resilience”

This session will be led by James Docherty from Community Justice Scotland.  James advocates strongly for change and awareness in how we address the hidden cost of untreated trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) in our society. Previously he has worked with a leading Children’s charity on diversion programmes with young people on the cusp of organised crime.

James has both professional and personal experience of navigating the care and criminal justice system.

James is a  Community Justice Advisor with Community Justice Scotland, responsible for increasing knowledge across teams and advising on approaches to strategies, projects and priorities.  James is also a Development Officer within the Violence Reduction Unit. He has previously worked on various VRU projects Mentoring people with convictions seeking to re-create their lives and supporting change.

"Building Resilience, a positive mental health and well-being strategy”

This session will be led by Tim Perkins.  In 2018/19 Tim carried out research in order to determine how best to build resilience amongst pupils in the Primary School classroom. Being acutely aware of his practical experience as a teacher and leader, Tim was slightly sceptical of what he describes as ‘Overt’ mental health and wellbeing strategies being adopted by some schools and encouraged by others, such as mental health or mindfulness programs. Indeed, there is little research that demonstrates clear benefits. Some strategies and other whole school curriculums have been adopted at considerable cost despite having no empirical evidence. Tim Perkins’ study in the classroom attempted to determine whether it was possible to devise a toolkit to build an autonomy supportive classroom as a more effective strategy.

In this presentation, Tim will share some of the findings of his research, and discuss if, by focussing on things we are good at doing, we can achieve the aims of some of the more costly ‘overt’ strategies. We will be leaving plenty of time for discussion in groups around debating these issues, towards shared strategies and concepts for our own schools and classrooms.

Tim has worked in education for the last 25 years in both the state and private sectors. He has run faculties, departments and led subjects for examination boards in both Primary and Secondary settings. He has worked in inner city and rural locations and been responsible for inclusion, the arts and other key areas. One of Tim’s key philosophies that underlies everything he has accomplished in teams over this time, relates to building agency through effective evaluative, dialogical and collaborative strategies which challenge teacher and child alike in the learning process.   

More recently Tim has produced research for his M.Ed., investigating whether the recent trend for overtly addressing mental health in schools is effective or are we better to focus on our practice and how we can covertly manage the learning process in order to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of pupils.

“Getting Curricular Transitions Right: How can we best guide children and young people to positively progress their learning across transition to ensure improved outcomes?” 

This session will be run by Zoe Inglis (Development Officer) and Dr Lauren Johnstone (Project Manager) from Renfrewshire Council.

During this interactive workshop, delegates will consider:

  • a rationale for curricular transition within their own context;
  • how they can best support children and young people to progress with pace and challenge through one curriculum (but across different sectors); and
  • how they can plan for change of curricular transition processes in order to better support progression.

The session will offer delegates an opportunity to reflect on curricular transition processes, consider the benefits of developing a more seamless curricular pathway and to begin the process of planning for change.


By attending the AGM on Thursday 21st November you will have the opportunity to shape the work of the Association.  Post-holders for the National Executive and motions from members are heard and discussed.  Motions have the capacity to make a big impact on the priorities of the Association and can be of great interest to the media and to key decision-makers.

National Executive Nominations

This year all roles on National Executive are up for election apart from General Secretary (this is elected on a five-year term and will next be subject to election in 2021).  These are:

  • President (2 year term)
  • Vice-President
  • Executive Member (2 posts)
  • Deputes Representative
  • Principal Teacher Representative
  • Primary representative
  • Nursery Representative
  • ASN Representative

Nominations for these roles need to be with the General Secretary by no later than 60 days before the AGM on 21 November (so, by 22 September).

The nomination form is available here.


Some of you might not be familiar with the term ‘motions’ or how to go about submitting one.  Here is a quick guide.

What is a motion and how do I submit one?

Put simply, a motion is a statement of a policy which you think should be adopted by the Association.  It might be about some change to the Association itself or it may seek to agree a policy position the Association should take on external matters (e.g. curriculum developments, terms and conditions, pensions, etc.)  A motion must be proposed and seconded by members who will be present at the AGM.  The proposer and seconder get an opportunity to present their motion to the AGM to let other delegates know why it is an important issue and why it ought to be supported.  Conference then discusses the motion and any amendments proposed.  The conference then votes on whether to adopt any amendments and finally whether to support the motion.  If a motion is supported at AGM then it will be pursued as appropriate by National Council and Executive.  

To submit a motion…if you have an active local group please contact your local secretary otherwise contact Greg Dempster (e: tel:0333 1210051) as soon as possible. If you want, Greg is more than happy to discuss possible motions and help you agree wording. 

DEADLINE – Under our constitution motions which seek to change the constitution must be received by the General Secretary no later than 60 days before the first day of conference.  So, 22nd September this year. Other motions (e.g. commenting on policy) must be submitted at least 15 days before the AGM (so before 6th November).

The motions form can be found here.

21 November 2019 - 22 November 2019 - Glasgow (Crowne Plaza Hotel)

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