Yesterday MTM attended the ISA Proprietors Conference at the Needham House Hotel in Stevenage. There was a good turn out and as always it was a thoroughly pleasant place to be. The first presentation was from Professor Adrian Furnham, discussing the Psychology of Leadership. Whilst there were numerous references to his books (he’s written 89, so that’s going to happen) it was fascinating to understand what makes a good leader, without having personality ‘disorder’. It struck me that many of the traits required to grow a successful business could also be classified as having a ‘disorder’! No sign of guilt is the telltale sign of a psychopath apparently…

After the break was a presentation on the benefits of coopetition – collaborating with your competition. We all think our schools are unique, but there are many options to share best practise. Just beware of sharing too much intellectual property… you could be giving away the next big idea! This was followed by Lloyds bank giving a round up on economy post Brexit – If I thought I had a hard job giving a data presentation, Hann-Ju Ho had around 20 slides of graphs! In a nutshell, productivity has not grown over the last 10 years. GDP growth has been driven by getting more people in to the work force. However, this has a limit, so it is unlikely that interest rates will be increasing substantially in the next 5 years. However, wages might have to. Phew. Lunch.

The ever-exuberant James Wilding led a session on how to maximise your inspection. He focused on the importance of pointing the inspectors to all your good bits, don’t just assume they will see them. If policies are not up to date, ISI will help, but they can’t magic the essence of your school if you don’t make it clear! Then followed the legal update from Stone King and the HR update from Abel Brown.

During the coffee break our caricaturist made a start. I was impressed how up for it everyone was!

After coffee, Marc Hogan, a ‘quite’ funny comedian, gave a first-class lesson on communication. Communication has so many more dimensions than just speech or words. Effective listening and interpretation of body language are key signs of a good communicator. The ‘group exercises’ heralded some surprises, I was surprised at how many emotions I could get into the word ‘table’, and was flattered by Craig Wardle. The key message throughout this was not to let the voice in your head limit you, although sometimes it is best to think before you speak!

The day was rounded off by drinks (which we sponsored) with Eddie The Eagle (who is undergoing transformation below) and a chance for more caricatures.

All in all, a most interesting day spent with some fantastic company. Thanks to Neil and Alice at ISA for all their hard work again. For those of you who are interested, Peter Woodroffe, Deputy CEO of ISA is in Dick Wittington for Panto season!