Meet Our 2018 Speakers

Mary Rhodes

Broadcaster, presenter and events host

Mary Rhodes is an award-winning Broadcast Journalist, with more than 25 years’ experience at the BBC. After graduating in journalism, she started her career in local radio before moving to London as a reporter and presenter in national and worldwide programming, across BBC radio and television.

As BBC Sport correspondent, Mary covered major events including Olympics, Commonwealth Games, International Football, Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon. She continues to present on Live @Wimbledon Radio with an international audience of more than 30 million.

Moving back to the Midlands in 2006, Mary now presents the popular BBC1 daily news programme Midlands Today, alongside reporting for the current affairs programme ‘Inside Out’ from Birmingham. She has presented The Sunday Politics (West Midlands) and hosted debates on the economy, devolution, general elections and EU Referendum for BBC1.

Alongside working as a journalist, Mary is an accomplished conference facilitator and events host. Clients include the third sector, sport, transport industry, education and local enterprise partnerships.

She is Chair of Breast Cancer Haven, West Midlands and an Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society. She is also a season ticket holder at West Bromwich Albion.

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Richard Gill

Teaching Schools Council Member for the West Midlands
CEO, The Arthur Terry Learning Partnership

Richard is a National Leader of Education and currently CEO of a respected multi-academy trust, the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, which has a learning community of 4,000 plus students and more than 800 staff and governors.

Richard is committed to collaboration and is overseeing the next stage of the partnership’s development to ensure it continues to deliver quality education to its primary and secondary schools, teaching School and children’s centre across Coleshill, Erdington, Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield/Tamworth.

Richard has been involved with Teaching Schools since their inception in 2011. He led the successful application which resulted in The Arthur Terry School being designated in cohort 1. His vision, passion and drive has contributed to the development of the teaching school programme nationally and for the last two years has been the Teaching Schools Council Member for the West Midlands leading on the development of system leadership across the West Midlands.

Richard’s ambition is to improve education for all, putting children and young people at the heart of everything he does and working tirelessly to ensure that every child can attend a great school.

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Geoff Barton

General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)

Geoff studied English and Linguistics at the University of Lancaster, then trained to teach at Leicester University. From 2002 to 2017 he was headteacher of King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, a comprehensive school of 1650 students.

He is a Founding Fellow of the English Association and writes for a range of newspapers and journals. He has worked with various organisations, including the Department for Education, on leadership and literacy.

Geoff was a longstanding member of ASCL Council, former chair of its Pedagogy Committee, is Patron of the English and Media Centre, and a ‘Leading Thinker’ for the National Education Trust. He became General Secretary of ASCL in April 2017.

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Prof Mick Waters

Professor of Education, University of Wolverhampton

Professor Mick Waters works with schools in the West Midlands in raising standards. This work began as part of the Black Country Challenge and has continued through the University of Wolverhampton’s involvement with the development of Academies and Teaching Schools. He works with schools in other parts of the country on innovative approaches to learning and on several initiatives to push the boundaries for making learning better.

Mick is an Honorary Fellow of the College of Teachers and supports several educational causes, as patron of the Children’s University and patron of the Curriculum Foundation, which seeks to promote a voice for the power and potential of the whole curriculum.

During his career, Mick has been a teacher and head teacher before working at senior levels in Birmingham and Manchester Local Authorities. He worked at a national level with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority where he was Director of Curriculum. Currently, Mick works with the Welsh government in producing Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership and leading an Independent Review of School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions.

Mick believes that learning should be treasured and valued and that it needs to be shaped to fit with children’s lives as well as structured to help society meet the promise of the future. He has written and contributed to books on the curriculum, teaching and learning, and leadership. He is passionate about the role of education in improving life chances for pupils. He enjoys asking adults to look at learning through the eyes of a pupil.

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Sir Christopher Stone

Chief Education Officer, GEMS MENASA
Deputy Chairman, Academic Council

Sir Christopher Stone joined GEMS Education as the Chief Education Officer – (MENASA) in November 2015. He is responsible for overseeing the quality of teaching, learning and curricula across all GEMS schools across the UAE. He is also Deputy Chief Academic Officer for the GEMS Academic Council.

Prior to joining GEMS Education, he was CEO of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership – a multi academy trust in the UK, which he led from 2009-2015. First appointed as a Principal in the UK in 1995, Sir Chris went on to lead a number of schools. Successive Ofsted reports described his schools as making remarkable progress due to his ‘outstanding and inspiring leadership’. His schools were in the first cohort of Teaching Schools as well as the first of two SCITTs to be created.

Sir Chris has also provided leadership, guidance and training for principals and ministers in Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Finland and Scotland on behalf of the British Council. He has been asked to provide support and guidance to successive UK governments, bringing him into regular contact with several British Prime Ministers.

He was made a National Leader of Education by NCSL in 2008. In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Birmingham City University for his work in Educational leadership and for driving up educational standards in the region and will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Liverpool Hope University in the summer of 2018.

Sir Chris received a knighthood in 2013, in recognition of his outstanding service to education.

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Professor Dame Alison Peacock

Chief Executive, Chartered College of Teaching

Professor Dame Alison Peacock is Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching. The Chartered College opened membership in January 2017 and aims to provide a professional body ‘by teachers, for teachers’.

Prior to joining the Chartered College, Dame Alison was Executive Headteacher of The Wroxham School in Hertfordshire. Her career to date has spanned primary, secondary and advisory roles. She is a member of the Royal Society's Education Committee, a trustee of Teach First, a Visiting Professor of the University of Hertfordshire and a columnist for TES.

In March 2015, Alison was appointed by the Department for Education as a member of the Commission on Assessment Without Levels and she is author of Assessment for Learning without Limits.

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Christine Quinn

Regional Schools Commissioner for West Midlands

Christine Quinn was appointed Regional Schools Commissioner for West Midlands on 3 October 2016. She has worked in in schools in the West Midlands region for 25 years.

Christine was the CEO and Executive Principal of Ninestiles Academy Trust; she was the first CEO and Executive Principal to lead the trust since Ninestiles School became Birmingham’s first ‘converter’ academy in January 2011. In April 2012, Ninestiles School became a teaching school, leading an alliance of primaries and secondaries in the east of the city. The trust now comprises 4 primary and 2, soon to be 3, secondary schools.

During her career, which began in Leeds as an English teacher, where she taught in 2 schools, Christine has also served as Headteacher of Waverly School and The International School, both in Birmingham.

Prior to being appointed CEO Executive Principal, Christine served as Principal of Ninestiles School which has been judged as ‘Outstanding’ in its last 4 Ofsted inspections, most recently October 2013. Christine is a National Leader of Education and currently a trustee of a number of boards both locally and nationally.

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James McNeillie

Senior Her Majesty's Inspector and Senior Operational Lead, West Midlands, Ofsted

James McNeillie is one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. He is a qualified teacher with post graduate qualifications in education.

James leads inspections of all phases and types of schools and is also involved in the inspections of local authority school improvement services and those involving multi-academy trusts.

Prior to joining Ofsted, he had a wide range of leadership experience working in and with schools and local authorities to support improvements to leadership, teaching and pupils' achievement. James has also been a school governor.

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Nicola Hart

School Ready/Early Years Lead Adviser for Walsall Children’s Services

Victoria Day

Lead for EYFS and Director of Ryders Hayes Teaching School

Sally Miner

Head Teacher, Ryders Hayes Teaching School

Philippa Cordingley

Chief Executive, CUREE

Debbie James

Headteacher, Swanshurst School and Sixth Form Centre

Claire Place

Assistant Headteacher, Swanshurst School and Sixth Form Centre

Sir Mark Grundy

Executive Principal, Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust

Emma Knights OBE

Chief Executive, NGE

James Ogden

Area Director (West Midlands and South West), Ambition School Leadership

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