Virtual School professionals, from across the 14 local authorities, within the West Midlands, joined together at the WMVS CiC Foundation 2023 Annual Conference for a day of networking, inspiring keynote speeches, informative panel discussions and productive workshops.
The event took place on Thursday 15 June 2023, at The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Birmingham, with the days programme including a keynote presentation from educational speaker, Mark Finnis, young person’s perspective in collaboration with VAMOS theatre, followed by an interactive panel discussions with representatives from fellow colleagues representing Ofsted, DfE and NAVSH-The National Association of Virtual School Heads.
The event was opened by Chair, Sarah Rivers, who welcomed colleagues and introduced the inspiring work of VAMOS theatre, who collaborated with young people across Staffordshire to create a powerful film that shows the raw realities faced by care experienced young people in today’s society.
Regional updates were presented highlighting the important work of each local authority and celebrating the hard work and dedication of each virtual school team in improving outcomes for each and every young person. Presentations were given by Matthew Cooke, NAVSH, Ian Hardman, Ofsted and Andrew Baxter, DfE, who each gave their own perspectives and future developments for the West Midlands region and the impact on a national level.
The conference keynote speech was presented by Author, Educational Speaker and Director of L30 Restorative Systems, Mark Finnis. Mark captivated the room with his theories and best practice examples of restorative practice.
Mark commented, “If you could find a way to improve school behaviour whilst also building better relationships and ensuring your school values are actually lived, then why wouldn’t you grab it?”
The afternoon continued with an update from Andrew Brown, The Rees Centre, Oxford University, who presented current findings from research and how research can be used to further develop practice.
The 2023 Annual Conference concluded with a set of workshops that included development programmes across the West Midlands, raising issues of current affairs such as supporting pathways to university, the impact of gangs exploitation on the teenage brains and a focus on inclusive classrooms.
The successful event was completed with a brief overview from Vice Chair Deena Moorey, who congratulated each and every colleague from the 14 Virtual Schools for their hard work
“It is such a privilege to work in the West Midlands. The WMVSCIC Foundation and all that it has achieved is a testament to the strengths of working together as a region. Our strength is also on a day-to-day basis, the way we can lift up the phone to Virtual School colleagues in the region and know that there will be a colleague there to support and help is invaluable.”