ISBA annual conference 2016 reflection

ISBA annual conference 2016 reflection

Posted: 09 June 2016

This year's ISBA annual conference, held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre from 18th-19th May, drew almost 400 bursars and school senior management staff to Scotland's capital.  The event which, this year, celebrated not only the first week in post of the ISBA's new chief executive David Woodgate, also offered delegates the largest number of professional development sessions in the conference's history.

With an ever-increasing number of issues affecting the day-to-day lives of bursars and senior management staff in today's independent schools, it was perhaps with little irony that Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer at Microsoft and the presenter of the opening keynote at conference, talked about how technology has spawned a 'digital deluge' from which we, as human beings, must rise up.  He likened software as the closest thing to magic we will ever see and explained that for technology to be used to its best advantage we must think about the outcome we're trying to achieve - not just the process of getting there.  One delegate commented "probably the best address I have ever heard…inspirational" whilst another said simply: "a great way to start off the conference."

The event moved swiftly on with a programme of 18 interactive panel and update sessions across the two days chaired by expert panellists and practitioners in the education sector.  These covered key issues for schools such as safeguarding, compliance and affordability, charitable status and employment law as well as income generation, means-tested bursaries, performance management, data protection, marketing, building projects and debt management.  On the second day of conference, former COO of Smith & Nephew Dr Ros Rivaz's plenary session discussed the two themes of leadership and change, and she proffered advice to delegates on managing common purpose, focus and constraints in their roles.  The final keynote on radicalisation delivered by the deputy head of the Prevent Delivery Unit in the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism of the Home Office, James Muncie, was highly relevant for delegates in today's complex times.

In addition to the popular exhibition featuring 114 suppliers to the independent schools sector, a further 9 information desks were made available to schools showcasing the work of key sector organisations including the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Teachers' Pensions and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

David Woodgate, chief executive of the ISBA, said "As a newcomer to the ISBA's annual conference and to the association, I was delighted to see for myself that the high esteem with which this event is held by schools, commercial suppliers and sector representatives is justly deserved.  This year's conference has proved yet again that it is a platform for the very best speakers in the education sector as well as a fantastic forum for the bursar community to come together".