Integra run a number of conferences to support senior leaders.

Our headteacher conference is due to take place on 9 and 10 March at St Pierre Hotel and Country Club.

This conference is a crucial opportunity to be inspired and challenged by our keynote speakers and we welcome colleagues from across the region.

Our keynote speakers this year are:

Matthew Syed Associates (authors of ‘Bounce’ & ‘Black Box Thinking’) Growth Mindset and Building Better Learners.

Chimp Management – Dr Steve Peters Associates (author of ‘The Chimp Paradox’) – Putting neuroscience into practice: A powerful approach to help leaders get the best out of themselves and others by understanding the mind and development emotional skill.

There will also be a ‘Lead Meet’ to share practice on ‘Leading for Success’.

The St Pierre Hotel provides a relaxing venue for networking with facilities including a pool and spa. Dinner is followed by our unmissable evening entertainment and dancing.

The full cost for a residential place is £330 which is excellent value for two full days of professional development, accommodation, three course meal and evening entertainment. We are delighted to announce that this year funding from the Leadership Academy will be used to pay £46 towards the cost of every South Gloucestershire headteacher who attends. Subscribing schools will also get a discount of 10% bringing the cost for eligible schools down to £255.60. There are a range of packages available to delegates including attending for a single day and non-residential. For further information contact us on

Deputy / Assistant Head Conference

Our successful conference on 1 and 2 December was attended by 65 delegates from Bristol, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire and BaNES.

Our first keynote speaker was the inspiring David Cameron and he posed some central school improvement questions for leaders need to consider:

  • What are you going to do to improve your practice?
  • What help / support will you need to make that improvement?
  • What outcomes will you expect your young people to achieve as a result of the improvement?
  • What evidence will you look at to determine if the improvement has been made?

He emphasised the need for actions to be manageable and that we should aim for sustainable practice rather than best practice to ensure that initiatives are fully embedded.

He stressed the importance of school leaders knowing the narrative for their school and that this should include the direction the school is going in as well as historical and future planned developments.

Middle leaders were asked to consider ‘leading out loud’ to make leadership transparent and impactful. They need to get to know their people through talk and build trust through constant communication which can then lead to a situation where meaningful feedback can be given and taken on board.

Other central questions about improvement that he raised were:

What do we do?

Why do we do it?

Why do we keep doing it?

The final question is crucial for ensuring that practice that is not having sufficient impact is identified and replaced with more successful strategies.

He stressed the need to keep focused on the things that go well and the positive impact of our work. We need to reflect on the importance of our beliefs, vision and ambition. As leaders we need to consider what we are doing to make sure teachers invest in children, make learning meaningful and give young people the opportunity to take ownership of their learning, innovate and create. We also need to think about where can we find space to let teachers do more than deliver because we want to make a difference and not just make a change.

David Cameron also joined us for a Lead Meet – thanks to Neil Fry from Blackhorse Primary for facilitating this and to the following people for contributing their excellent ideas to the session.

  • Liz Thomas – Integra – two sessions one on 7 Top tips for Maths Marking and one on Transition Bridges
  • Pete Barnard – Frampton Cotterell Primary –  Boosting Greater Depth Writing at KS2
  • Jamie Woodworth – Wheatfield Primary- Entry and Exit Cards and Accelerating progress
  • James Almond – St Michael’s on the Mount – The Magic Shoes
  • Wendy Westwood – Charfield – Learning from KS1 Moderation
  • Jacqui Taylor – Blackhorse Primary – Diminishing the Difference

Our thanks to the following headteachers who provided excellent input for leaders on the benefits and challenges of leading in different school contexts:

  • Claire Hill – St Barnabas
  • Mary Mainwaring – Christ the King
  • Bernice Webber – Old Sodbury

On day 2 James Hilton joined us to talk about the stresses of leadership and ways to deal with this. He outlined the following signs to look out for in ourselves and others we lead –

  • Sleep – lack of sleep can lead to bad decision making
  • Appetite – could include comfort eating or drinking more
  • Mood – look out for people isolating themselves where they haven’t before
  • Concentration – starting tasks and flitting from task to task could be indicators
  • Tolerance – could include being less tolerant of behaviour than previously which could impact on relationships with staff or pupils

He suggested some strategies for dealing with these are we have listed a few below.

Lack of Sleep 

  • Take the pressure off by seeing it as relaxation time so you don’t get stressed when you can’t sleep.
  • Have a notepad by the bed to make notes so that you are not kept awake thinking about things.
  • Don’t have the time visible so if you are awake you are not stressing about how many hours sleep you are missing.
  • Count backwards from 500 slowly towards one to help you sleep.
  • Ocean waves mimic the pattern of relaxed human breathing and lowers your heart rate which can help you sleep. There are now apps for this.


  • What we see depends mainly on what we are looking for. Look for the positives.
  • Keep a diary of 3 good things are the end of each day so you are not weighed down by things that can add to your stress.
  • Change patterns of behaviour to avoid things that trigger your stress eg if you get stressed on the route to school change your route.
  • Sometimes you need other people to point out solutions so discuss things openly and look out for where you can make suggestions to help others.

A day of worrying can be more draining than a week of work – for example, if you tell someone you line manage that you want to discuss something with them at the end of the day this could lead to them spending the day worrying. As a manager it is more helpful to give them an idea about what it is about in advance rather than letting their anxiety build while they worry about it.

Visualisation can be a useful way to reduce stress. One example is if you are worried about a particular meeting try to visualise the first part of the meeting and rehearse.

Ensure you use hobbies and other interests to distract you from stress. If members of your team are giving up outside interests this could add to their stress.

As leaders we need to look after the well being of our teams. We need to help people focus on the positives and look out for people that are struggling and need our support. We need to make sure people feel valued in their role. South Gloucestershire have a really supportive community who can help each other deal with the challenges of leadership.

If you would like further information James has written Leading from the Edge a school leader’s guide to recognising and overcoming stress.

From evaluations delegates reported that the conference was “a good combination of ‘big ideas’ and simple tips” and a “vital part of CPD”. Others found it “informative, thought provoking, inspiring, fun!” and that it “Reminded me what the job is really about”.

This article was circulated to our subscribing schools through our curriculum newsletter. For information on how to become a subscribing school contact us on and for information on the full range of professional development visit our CPD website.