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Praise For Voyage's EDI Leadership Conference

The inaugural Voyage Leadership Conference took place recently around Equity, Diversity and Inclusion - and proved an extremely valuable experience for all involved.

Keynote speaker at the event, which was held at Boston's Jakemans Stadium, was Hannah Wilson, co-founder of Diverse Educators.

Hannah has vast experience of teacher training and diversity, and leadership and language were just two topics included in her enlightening talk which provided many thought-provoking and 'action idea' moments - further stimulating deeper debate among the Voyage leaders present.

Hannah said: "It was a brilliant Leadership Conference for Voyage, which is clearly a values-led Trust.

"A palpable commitment to DEI was demonstrated and I appreciated the openness, honesty and humility on show.

"The Trust has a real clarity of vision, mission and values."

EDI are priorities for us as a Trust - and the event also shared great practice from our Headteachers.

Carlton Road Academy Headteacher Clare Coyle presented on her career journey, while Executive Headteacher of Fishtoft Academy and Wygate Park Academy, Dr Craig Early, discussed how challenging thought processes has helped improve education for all.

Navin Kikabhai, Chairperson of the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), also helped us further explore the importance of SEND - and the true meaning and potential for inclusion for individuals within mainstream education.

Navin said: ""It's really interesting to see a Trust leading on shifting towards inclusive education and wanting to know more about what they can do.

"It was wonderful to hear that Voyage staff are open to change - and that they are looking forward and recognise the rights of children.

"It has got to be applauded in terms of that shift of thinking, as well as in practice. I'm really looking forward to what the future holds for Voyage."

Navin joined our SEND Improvement and Inclusion Lead Maxine Cunningham to lead an in-depth panel discussion, during which those present asked questions.

The event was organised by our CEdO Clare Willerton.

Clare said: "Voyage’s first Leadership Conference was rooted in the values of the Trust and designed to support the work of one of our Trust Strategic Priorities - to ensure inclusive learning and working environments promoting equality and diversity.  

"It not only provided an opportunity for leaders across the Trust to network and share journeys, but to also have their thinking provoked and challenged by national speakers within the field of diversity, equity and inclusion.

"The atmosphere of the day was amazing - with engaging dialogue and an openness to explore.

"The event demonstrated the power of team and the connectiveness of our values, and I am very optimistic about future developments."

The day proved a fantastic opportunity for Voyage staff to share ideas around topics close to our hearts as a Trust.

Our CEO Emma Hadley said: "It was an absolute privilege to spend a day at our Voyage EDI Conference, with such dedicated leaders from across all of our academies and shared central services.

"The external speakers were brilliant in challenging our thinking - and the good practice shared by some of our own Voyage leaders and academies was inspirational.

"EDI continues to be a priority for our Trust, and I am excited to see how our leaders will keep the EDI momentum going and continue to impact important change. It was a day that made me feel incredibly proud of everyone's honesty, openness to change, and collective efforts."

Staff comments following the event:

"A fantastic day and a pleasure to listen and learn from many inspirational individuals. I left with many interesting avenues to further explore."

"I cannot put into words how proud I am to work for a Trust where this is a priority. To have our leaders coming together to reflect, listen, share and embrace ‘belonging’ and how vital it is for our learners and staff to feel represented, seen and heard."

"What a day! So many brilliant speakers and discussions. The vibe in the room was fantastic - such great people. Well done to everyone involved."

"So proud to work for such a great Trust."

"This was a fantastic opportunity to sit and reflect on the positives within our practice (something we often don't take the opportunity to do) and where we want to go."

"Amazing speakers! I was genuinely inspired by the bravery of colleagues who shared their lived experiences, as well as seeing practice from across our fabulous MAT."

"A truly amazing and inspiring day! We all challenged, supported and celebrated each other - thank you to all involved!"

"Such an enlightening day filled with thought-provoking conversations from beginning to end. Our Voyage community shared such inspiring insights into their ‘why’ and the journey they have been on with EDI in their own academies."

"The conference was amazing! All speakers were fantastic and very inspirational. Exciting times ahead!"

"It was inspirational and engaging - and made me proud to be part of the team."

"What an opportunity! Amazing speakers, lots of thoughtful moments, and a chance to think about the changes we can make to ensure our school is as inclusive as it can be."

To watch a video summary of the Voyage Leadership Conference please click here.