‘Accomplishment at Scale’ – with Sir Michael Barber, Maggie Farrar; and Sir Steve Lancashire
Introduction; A day of purposeful learning and collaboration…
On 8 June 2022 we were delighted to welcome over 100 delegates from across the country to the inaugural National #TrustLeaders Symposium, bringing together individual members of Forum Strategy’s National CEO and COO Networks and our Education Executives Membership for the first time. Colleagues spent the day in the company of Sir Michael Barber – former Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, a leading thinker internationally in public sector improvement and reform, and author of Accomplishment: How to Achieve Ambitious and Challenging Things’. Delegates were given Sir Michael’s book prior to the event and had been invited to use Chapter 1 to begin to define the ‘bold ambition’ for their trust over the next couple of years.
The event was facilitated by Sir Steve Lancashire, Founder, and former CEO of REAch2 Academy Trust and now Chair of Forum’s National #TrustLeaders CEO Network; and Maggie Farrar, former Director for Leadership Development and Research and Interim Chief Executive at the National College for School Leadership. We were also pleased to welcome colleagues representing our partner organisations.
Alice Gregson, Forum’s Executive Director, opened the event, inviting colleagues to maximise the opportunities during the day to work with like-minded peers to further develop and define the ‘bold ambitions’ they had begun to think about in preparation for the event. Alice emphasised that we are all part of the education sector, that we all wish to achieve ambitious and challenging things for children and young people, our organisations, and our wider communities, and that it has never been more important to reach higher and further to achieve these ambitions.
Maggie Farrar then set the scene for the Symposium, urging colleagues to think of the event as the start of their journey to achieving the bold ambition they had begun to develop, and to adopt a “beginner mind”, becoming comfortable with not knowing all the answers and letting go of certainty. Maggie shared a quote from Jim Collins’ book ‘Good to Great’, which states that Level 5 leaders “hoover the brains of everyone they meet” and invited colleagues to spend the day doing the same!
Sir Michael Barber welcomed colleagues and emphasised that, by definition, “doing something ambitious means you do not yet know the answer”. It means pushing beyond your expertise and, in the case of academy trusts and the wider education sector, doing something because it is morally important for the benefit of children and young people. In these uncertain and challenging times for society and communities, it is vital that trust leaders do not simply wait for direction and top-down solutions from the government, but instead work together to create the system they wish to see.