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Can leaders shape the landscape? BELMAS members from all over the world gather to debate this fundamental question

No matter what your interest in educational leadership research, or whether you’re a practitioner, a researcher or some element of both, there’s something for you at this year’s BELMAS conference.

More than 170 delegates from all over the world have made for a hotel six miles outside Stratford upon Avon to discuss this year’s theme, “Educational Policy and Practice: Can leaders shape the landscape?” On the Saturday morning, another 70 will swell numbers as the conference hosts a TeachMeet session.

As BELMAS chair Professor Philip Woods put it: “It’s good to welcome delegates who are friends, and new delegates – old and new friends.

“What difference do people who lead make to education? We’re not simply a scholarly society, but also, and, essentially about bringing all of these different people together so research can be shared: researchers, policy actors, practitioners.

“There will be more than 200 people in conference tomorrow: that’s a record for us, and it’s a very diverse group of people.”

We would, he promised, explore the theme through conceptual and theoretical ideas, evoking the question: how much shaping can educational leaders do? “How much is it right and possible for different leaders to do?       Who should shape the educational landscape?” And, quoting an Andrew Marvell poem, he asked: “How much are learners free to shape their own growth and vitality as opposed to things laid down?”

The first keynote speaker, Howard Stevenson, was determined to deliver his argument despite becoming increasingly unwell as he continued. Professor Stevenson wanted to talk about “the fundamental question” about whether leaders make a difference, and could they change the world in which they live and work.

He wanted, he said, to address the title of the conference by talking about how the landscape had changed, and raising some issues about the role of educational research. In a long and detailed analysis, he talked about the ideas of the Italian Marxist Gramsci, and how a seminal book by Hayek had been influential in underpinning ideas from the new right over decades, challenging the post-war welfare state consensus to the point where the 1988 education act set education on a “different trajectory”.

There was now a battle for ideology, and a striking desire for change. This was having an effect on people’s willingness to discuss these ideas around schools – and was it, he asked, beginning to happen in universities?

“My concern is that it is not just about winning a battle of ideas but creating conditions in which alternative ideas are suppressed within the English education system and it becomes increasingly difficult to challenge dominant ideas. To do so is often an act of extraordinary courage.”

Two sessions followed, both with a wide range of subjects to choose from. In one of the many options, former headteacher Jill Berry discussed her research following new headteachers from first appointment through their first months in the job, discussing her notions of inheriting and inhabiting the role, and also the crucial nature of support from existing leaders.

In a well-attended session, Megan Crawford, conference chair and National Leader of Governance, and Michelle Currie, CEO of the Milton Keynes Academy Trust, were in the hotel library, leading a round-table discussion on governance and working together for change.

Michelle explained how the Trust had grown out of the changes in the state education system. “A few years back we didn’t like the way in which the state education system was going. The educational landscape was changing and we didn't want to be shaped by that, we wanted to shape for ourselves. That’s what we tried to do local. We didn’t like the large multi-academy trusts, we formed our own school MAT which was designed to be accountable to local people in Milton Keynes, run by local people for the benefit of local children.”

The Trust was founded by Michelle’s school, Walton High, and took over a failing school “because we didn’t want a large unaccountable national MAT to take it over.

…we wanted to shape the future.”

Now, she said, the trust was looking to open an alternative provision free school for children who found it difficult to behave in school and was looking to employ a Trust speech and language therapist. “We’re looking for what our needs are, what we can afford collectively. It’s about making it happen, doing our very best for children locally: enabling, enhancing, enriching.”

Responding to a comment about democratic accountability by Richard Hatchard, Michelle said: “We are a local trust accountable to local people… if they think the trust is not performing well they know where I live and work – not a hundred miles away.”

Megan Crawford then moved the debate on to the effectiveness of governance. “My chief concern is many things are going unchallenged because many of the governors wouldn’t know where to begin to make that challenge and when they do the secretary of state has power to sweep in… I’ve seen cases where the governing body is completely ignorant about things going on.” This wasn’t a new phenomenon, retorted former headteacher Margaret Turnbull, who said the real problem was how much the headteacher wanted to engage with governors.

Governance – and specifically a huge project on performance management of headteachers – was the subject of one of the final sessions of the day, led by David Eddy Spicer, Megan Crawford, Peter Earley and Chris James.

In another room, Karen Edge and Juliet Horton were discussing preliminary findings of their Generation X project looking at school leaders in London, New York and Toronto.

“My worry is if Generation X school leaders behave the same way as normal Generation X do we’re in a bit of trouble… there may be a different career trajectory,” said Karen, saying that there appeared to be similarities: she knew of three or four who had quit jobs to travel and watch sport.

It is, she explained, a massive project with “26,000 coding fragments” and much analysis still to do. Preliminary issues coming up centred on gender, with women leaders timing babies around Ofsted inspections (“which is not safe or healthy when you leave it to your late 30s”) and women also lacking role models of school leaders with young children. “We have leaders with one child, who’ve never met another in London, yet in Toronto women are having babies all the time. It’s a structure issue in terms of policy – there are districts there, and heads can be put in other schools to cover those on leave.”

There were a lot of accountability pressures in London, and a sense of isolation.

One interesting nugget of data surrounded early leadership experiences – the heads in New York and Toronto mentioned brownies, summer camp, family, school, church. People in London were less likely to talk about early leadership. “A few mentioned cheerleading in New York,” said Karen, joking about writing a publication called From Pompoms to Principals. In London, leaders were likelier to cite jobs in school as leadership experience but less likely to have created their own jobs.

Another difference was that in London nobody in the study was from an immigrant background, whereas some subjects in the other cities had come as refugees. One leader had been the only member of her family to speak English at five, so her early experience of leadership was as a family advocate “to get us what we needed to survive.”

Juliet Horton, a London assistant principal working on the gender findings of the project, said leaders were younger and having children later… so women were saying they did not know how they could combine the two. “They say,

Is there a role model? Heads work 60 and 70 hours a week - how does that work with children?”

Initial findings suggested that women were making significant life choices about families because of their jobs which in the main men were not making, timing children around Ofsted and concerned about burn out of combining children and leadership.

There were also concerns about school governors preferring men. Another worry was over accountability, especially in London, and the “fragility” of the role where women fear the family is resting on their income and Ofsted come and the job is lost, perhaps overnight.

There was also a feeling that women were being chosen for jobs in more challenging situations.

In terms of policy implications, the team said help was needed to support Generation X-ers who were likely to be lot unless they were supported. Jobsharing and flexible working were policies which needed to be considered, said Karen Edge. “This is preliminary data. This is what we’ve heard so far. People should start thinking about where the evidence is heading,” she said.

Formal business over for the day, it was time to relax around the hotel before tackling dinner and the annual, fearsome challenge of Professor Mike Bottery’s quiz – which this year was won with a score of 25.5 out of 40. To call it esoteric is to understate the nature of the beast. To do well, you’d need to know such varied matters as the literal meanings of Karate and Karaoke, which of Ulan Bator, Stratford and Calgary were further north, the amount of fresh water in the world, the cost of a hit man and the names of all five Spice Girls.

Well – how would you have done?

 

Belmas conference day 2: revolting students, leaders’ egos and some real problems deciding which sessions to attend

Decisions, decisions. It’s the second day of the Belmas conference and there are agonising choices to be made between some really interesting sessions.

Before that, though, there is one of the most interesting keynote speeches I’ve ever had the pleasure to take notes in. Sarah Nelson, a former school principal who is now a professor at Texas State University, had come to tell us about her research into the school student uprising in Chile in 2006 – called the Penguin Revolution because of the students’ black and white uniforms.

The hall was silent as she told the story of 800,000 students protesting about the 1980s education system, called LOCE, which involved high stakes accountability, privatisation and decentralization.

Almost anyone could open a school, there were exams in most grades and a student voucher system developed so that there was effectively a three tier system: private schools for the richest, semi-private schools where a school voucher had to be topped up by parental contributions, and municipal schools. The schools, she said, were segregated by class. .

Their specific demands were free transportation to school, a reduction in the university entrance exam fee and a repeal of LOCE and especially the extended school day (which had gone from six to eight hours.).

The protest, said Sarah, began with a letter campaign and sit-ins, class walkouts and street protests. Nothing changed, but students were characterized as vandals and became angrier. Eventually the government began to use water cannons “but the students were clever, using media and making signs in English so it would go out over the world.”

In stage two of the protest the students retreated from the streets and occupied the schools, supported by parents, teacher unions. “They were very smart: they kept a focus on equity… they organised cleaning crews, locked up computers, cleaned bathrooms, tidied up school so no one could say ‘you are being thugs’.” After three weeks, the government agreed to free transport and meal subsidies for low income students, free university entrance exams for all but the wealthiest students, emergency funds to rebuild dilapidated schools, replaced LOCE and agreed a £138m annual increase in education spending.

“What’s the significance? The students most affected by LOCE were those in the municipal schools, but the students who helped organise it were from all kinds of schools, mostly semi private,” said Professor Nelson. The other reason it was significant was that it was 16 years after the Pinochet dictatorship, and the first major social movement since.

“I wanted to know what happened to make this so different,” said Professor Nelson. So she and her team went to a subsidised private school five years after the protest, and questioned some of the former students. They came back with several lessons in successful protest. These included:

  • be a public pedagogue: the public was misinformed about the state of student education. Students were educating people around them about what was happening in school
  • build alliances across different groups, use social media
  • be courageous: policy change requires action and can often stall at discussion stage
  • get out of the way of people being courageous. “We saw that with administrators who didn’t stop the students. One school leader said ‘how can we teach democracy then stop it when it happens?’”
  • focus on long term policy: this year the same Chilean president won a second term in office, and has proposed further changes to education policy

Professor Nelson asked: “How do we use organisations like BELMAS to organise in an effective way?”

At this point, the first of the day’s choices came up. They included a session from Daphne Whiteoak (who, hours later, was presented with the Thesis Prize for her work) on why headteachers leave their jobs in Anglican primary schools in England – for spiritual reasons, she found – and also the really lively Ignite! format trialled last year. This gives each presenter just five minutes to talk about their work or research. So, topics included New Zealand educator Jan Robertson on understanding headteacher mindsets and how to get aspiring leaders thinking in different ways about teaching and learning, and challenging assumptions about what a teacher is.

Natallia Yakavets discussed research being done in Kazakhstan into how educational reforms were being translated to principals (with researchers working in minus 30 degrees in some cases). Among her findings were that of an uncertainty-avoiding characteristic, and paternal leadership.

Headteacher Ian Potter talked about his thinking through his professional doctorate, making sense of his job and the construct of being a school leaders within the rhetoric of a school led self improving system, a “state wide approach to distributed leadership, or let’s put the problems of public sector into the hands of the chalk face rather than policy wonks.”

He said he thought headteachers could choose the construct of what it is to be a leader in a self improving system in two ways, either as and “agent of progress” or to take a different construct. “What is the unit of management?” he asked, suggesting a shared collect responsibility could be possible rather than a silo system.

As conference chair Megan Crawford explained, “The point of Ignite! is to send you away thinking.”

Making a decision about which of the next sessions to attend was also tricky – so I tried to be in several places at once. In the biggest room, there was an SLT TeachMeet, bringing together school leaders to discuss practice and research, with live streaming to the web and twitter, and lots of prizes.

Emma Kell, in her fifth week in a new SLT job, got the ball rolling with her explanation of how she juggles her job, her young children and her doctoral research.

“For me doing the doctorate came by chance. I had 10 years of head of language. I had a ten month-old, and I was restless. We were asked if anybody fancied doing a doctorate… I thought what the hell, but everyone thought I was insane.

“I was told to choose something I live and breathe. I was on the M25 and realised what I had to do was with being a teacher and a parent, day in, day out and all its challengers. So my doctorate is about the influence of parenthood on teacher identity, effectiveness and well being.” There have been interesting moments, she said, recalling the Skype conversation with her supervisor who admonished her for confusing method with methodology. “I worked out I was a pragmatist after a lot of conversations,” she said.

She added: “It’s been really exciting… when I went on Twitter and asked for information, I expected 200 responses and I got 1,604 responses. It’s had an impact on every aspect of my life and work.”

The next TeachMeeter, Rachel Roberts, was talking about her research with teacher trainees and the variation of guidance given on how to observe lessons.

“They didn’t quite understand the importance of observing at the beginning of their course, which is when they do most observation,” she said, adding that her tentative conclusions found the students had difficulty differentiating between pedagogical technique and delivery, had an over focus on what happened in the lesson rather than prior planning, a lack of flexibility in understanding how techniques might transfer.

It would be useful, she said, for students to have blocks on observation over the year.

At this point it was time to try another session, and the workshop Chris James and Ian Potter looked promising, “Exploring adult ego development and the way it shapes the practice of individual school leaders.”

In brief, they were looking at a management consultancy theory (by Fisher and Torbert) of adult ego development, and that people in different stages behave differently. Those stages were Opportunist, Diplomat, Expert and Achiever (all described as dependent stages by James and Potter) then Individualist (independent), Strategist and Magician/Alchemist.

“Reflection is very important, and the key thing is that you reflect in relation to the stage you are in,” said Chris, describing how being in a different environment or a leader in different circumstances can “churn up your previous frames and be a moment of transformation. If you weren’t ready to move you wouldn’t know. If I put you in situation where theories don’t work you go through some kind of a change.”

New contexts, said Ian, could support progression but you might decide to “employ your previous frame”.

There followed a fascinating discussion, where everyone in the room had something to contribute or a question to ask, often in the light of leaders with whom they had worked. Chris was at pains to point out that there was no intention to ascribe value judgments to the work. “If I need to get into a lifeboat when my ship has hit an iceberg, I am going to look for an opportunist,” he explained. “There are massive pluses to all the mindsets, said Ian,” adding, “You can’t blame somebody for the experiences they have had to that date in life.”

There was an interesting question about particular types of leader being necessary to enact particular government policy. And also there are times when a school might need a particular sort of leader.

The great thing about BELMAS is that if you miss an interesting session, you can often get a catch up from one of the association’s famously friendly academics, and that it’s a small enough event for debate to continue continuously around the copious supplies of tea and coffee.

That meant I could collar Mike Bottery about his session on educational portraiture, and whether the research impact was more important than the research itself. What follows isn’t the academic version – it’s perhaps more like the kind of conversations which at Belmas start over breakfast, continue throughout the day and end over a good dinner… or, for the diehards, in the bar late at night.

Professor Bottery’s research involving headteacher portraiture, he says, has impacts in itself on the heads and principals he interviews. One is the affirmation impact – they like to talk about their jobs and do it in a way “that it isn’t going to be taken down and used in evidence against them.” Obviously, he adds, there’s a lot of reflection involved which is also useful, and the finished work will include analysis of why the person is doing the work they are. And that also is useful: he gives an example of a head teacher who cannot quite understand why he’s been appointed to a specialist role when his background is entirely different. “He had no idea why he had been appointed. I said, OK, I’ll ask you a series of questions and try and find out why they appointed you.” It became apparent that the panel had appointed exactly the right person for the job and why – and the work helped the principal to understand and think of himself differently.

He did say more – but you get the idea.

Starting the afternoon session was another innovation, a policy dialogue panel in which four educationalists had the chance to discuss, for just five minutes each, whether educational leaders “have enough autonomy to shape the landscape”.

The first to speak was Leora Cruddas, Director of Policy at the Association for School and College leaders. Citing the story of how inventing a better propeller did not significantly improve aeroplane speed – because jet engines were the answer- she said radical transformations in education were required, with thinking led by the profession. The locus of improvement had been moved from government to schools, but it was time for the profession to step forward for the next phase of leadership, including leadership of localities and leading the system itself.

There were significant constraints on autonomy, including Ofsted inspections which breed fear and uncertainty and doubt. Also, piecemeal change turned leaders into implementers of government policy.”

What does inspection look like in a school led system? We need a shift in mindset, not what government can do but what the profession can do,” she said.

Brett Pugh, Group Director for School Standards and Workforce in the Welsh government, said leadership autonomy had not historically happened in his country, but the 2009 Pisa results had been one catalyst for change.

There had been a short term improving schools plan, and now a wider format. The nation needed to build autonomy in schools, and was looking at co-operative models to enhance this. Success lay in co-operation, not marketisation, he said.

Professor Ron Glatter trod a linguistic path, saying that the word in the question which jumped out at him was not autonomy but landscape, which implied a degree of order. A better analogy, he thought, was patchwork quilt… or jungle. The self-improving school system notion was “strongly reminiscent of chaos theory, he said cheerfully.

The key to this had been commissioning, in a system fairly unique to the world, with minimal public debate and varying quality school to school.

In England, central government was dominant with core objectives and performance. Leaders didn’t have the power to shape the landscape – but should they get it, he asked suggesting that taxpayers, the local community, students, parents and others should play a part. “We should all have a hand in shaping the landscape,” he said.

Last up was Agniesszka Czejkowska from the University of Graz. She asked: “Do they really want enough autonomy? I’d rather not…. At the end of the day I don’t feel too enthusiastic about autonomy and leadership.”

The rest of the afternoon – a lovely sunny one as Belmas chair Philip Woods pointed out cheerfully – involved relaxed sessions on a huge variety of subjects ranging from teachers’ working conditions in English academy schools, through school leadership development in Malaysia, leadership succession in New Zealand, critical thnking and international students and the MiE best paper winners, Malini Mistry and Krishan Sood discussing the challenges of under-representation of males in the early years.

With an AGM on the horizon, BELMAS members had a bit of time to enjoy a break and either a lollipop or an ice lolly. Mark Gibson, who’d just completed his doctorate, was enjoying himself. ”BELMAS has been great all the time I’ve been working on it, always interesting and supportive. I’ve really enjoyed myself here again this year.”

Academic challenge over for the day, and it was time (once the AGM was out of the way, to gather for champagne and Pimm’s before the major social event of the weekend, the conference dinner, prefaced by a mix of Shakespeare and ballet from a local dance school.

 

Interesting ideas, challenging ideas, and challenging questions: the last morning of the BELMAS conference

Sunday morning at the Belmas conference may be sandwiched between a late night and delegates rushing to catch trains and planes, but the intellectual debate continues at full pelt.

No fewer than eight sessions start simultaneously at 9am, with between three and six pieces of research being presented in each.

It's an eclectic morning. In one room Rachel Dubsky is talking about dilemmas school leaders may face around the teachers' code of conduct, and the very mixed opinions she got presenting six hypothetical situations to a group of experienced teachers. In another room, Steven Courtney is discussing research he has done into headteachers' "vision" and a desire to have the right staff in place. Malini Mistry and Krishan Sood, meanwhile, are discussing the role of leaders in challenging stereotypes around men and early years and primary teaching.

In the Library (the hotel has grown out of a country house) there's a session outlining the findings of six of Belmas-funded small scale research grants, and some interesting snippets of information.

Ellie Howard of the National Governors' Association had looked at school federations and the reasons for them which included financial, and teacher/headteacher retention. "Many of the benefits could have been achieved by collaboration, and I wondered what the governors thought they had gained from federation," she said.

Gill Howland had been following events in a town where ten schools had wanted to create a hard federation and had been turned down by the DfE on several occasions, including being told "It gives the power to innovate... but this is not the innovation we're looking for."

"Who interprets policy in the DfE? It seems to be which official you saw," she said.

The final event of the conference was the Any Questions panel session -- and here I have to declare an interest, as I chaired it. Can't claim any credit, though, for the brilliance of the four panelists, who were Jill Berry, former head teacher and now a consultant taking an EdD; Taymur Mirza, founding head of the first IB World School for 3-18 year olds in Pakistan; Laura Chapman, a facilitator, writer, researcher and equality campaigner; and finally Andy Townsend, Associate Professor in Educational Leadership at Nottingham University. Andy was a late substitution when Jonathan Simons had to pull out at the last minute.

Over an hour, we had some fantastic questions and some brilliant answers. The first came from TeachMeet's Ross McGill, who followed the conference theme by asking how teachers and leaders could encourage each other to shape the educational landscape.

Jill said it was important that practitioners felt they had the capacity to change the landscape, and one example of this was TeachMeets, a session where everyone has six minutes to talk about an aspect of their practice. Taymur talked about encouraging teachers to present their work and teachings at regular seminars at hs school.

Laura developed an extended metaphor, talking of gardens as well as landscapes. "In your garden you have power to make changes that enable everybody to take up leadership activity. Everything that happens outside your garden, you need to acknowledge and understand, even if you have no power over it.... We make sure the subjects we discuss are informed by what impacts on our organisation: we have no power over them and don't let us affect us negatively."

Andrew, agreeing, with Laura, added: "To change landscape needs broader, more representative bodies active on behalf of members. Places like BELMAS have a role in doing that kind of work, as can unions, although I am actually not sure at the moment that the dialogue which comes from unions is sufficiently clear about articulating educational vision."

Victoria Showunmi wondered whether the values of school leaders grew as much from the context of their school as those in which they were raised. Taymur thought the issue was the definition of values and was an individual question, a "give and take situation and a personal journey: do you stay with an old context or a new context? Times are changing, there's globalisation, you don't want to be a dinosaur either. It's all about your personal journey."

Jill thought leaders were appointed partly on the strength of their vision and values, with a huge responsibility for facilitating and articulating shared values of the school community. "You also do put your stamp on it when you are appointed for leadership roles and do need to look very carefully at the context where you are considering moving because if it is at odds with your personal values it would be very difficult for that to be a successful partnership."

She added: "I do think context is absolutely crucial... if you are a successful leader in one school and go to another you won't lead necessarily in the same way. Your vision is formulated through life. It's not just the schools you went to and led, it's everywhere in between. I think you learn more from negative role models in some respects and all that time you are formulating your vision."

Andrew was "a little uneasy" with the suggestion that values might be based in a context, as that implied they were relative, although he agreed that it was impossible not to be affected by the circumstances in which you were working.

David Eddy Spicer wanted to ask about whether there was a university role in supporting the efforts of school leaders to shape a policy landscape, and what it should be.

Andy expressed discomfort with the idea of support and "hierarchy of influence," but cited action research as one way in which people could collaborate, influence and reciprocate in developing practice. Jill talked about the increasing numbers of practising teachers and leaders doing Masters' and doctorates, and disseminating the methodology into schools, while Taymur outlined an initiative between the Institute of Education and schools in Pakistan.

Laura explained that she had been told she could never be an academic because she could not write physically. She was now halfway through her doctorate, "and that huge evidence base has enriched my practice as a visiting bee to many gardens. I take good information, I hope, to practitioners to enable them to grow their practice.

"What I do not do is tell others how to do their job. I think the richness of my knowledge allows me to plant seeds many haven't even considered. The fact that they see a disabled academic is pretty damn powerful in itself."

The conversation then moved on to Krishan Sood's question about low numbers of minority ethnic leaders in England and the Trojan Horse events in Birmingham.

Laura outlined her experiences of working with a black female leader. "When

we go into meetings together her voice either gets ignored completely or is ridiculed because she happens to be the only black woman in the room. The fact she goes in with a disabled chair makes us quite formidable in terms of challenges. I believe we are feared, and I think that is because we shake up the stereotype of the strong leader so much that people haven't got a box to put us in and revert to instinct by saying if I can't box you, you must be mad."

Frederick Ebot-Ashu wanted to know about the "very confusing" structures in English education. To laughter, Andy explained: "I had a group of 12 Chinese doctoral students coming over for 12 weeks. At the beginning they said wanted to understand what the English education system was like. At the end they said we know we don't understand it and we don't really want to know any more because it's too complicated and confusing.... It does raise questions about what should be in an education system worthy of the name 'system'."

Jill, musing on all the changes she had seen over 30 years, concluded "the posts change but the goals don't," while Taymur said it was always political: "You don't make the rules but you have to play the game."

Other points made during the session were that headteachers need opportunities to reflect, and Jill thought conferences were a good way of doing that, as was the use of social networking such as Twitter. Time was an issue, but Taymur thought it was important to "invest" time in leadership development, and Jill said it needed to be prioritised.

Summing up, Jill thought education was considerably better than when she started her career in 1980, suggesting everyone knew more about learning, cared more about motivation and spoke to each other more. Laura felt "energised" by the BELMAS conference, adding: " We have huge things to do together. It only takes few people to make change: more will follow and if they don't more shame them. Our job is to grow a garden which blooms, where we appreciate the weeds as well as the roses."

Closing the conference, Belmas chair Professor Philip Woods announced the winners of the council elections (Victoria Showunmi, Gill Howland, Kay Fuller), thanked Megan Crawford for her hard work as conference chair, and announced that the 2015 event will be held at Wokefield Park in Reading.

He wanted to refer to the suggestion made in Howard Stevenson's opening keynote, about the importance of ideas and the "battle of ideas theme... which resonated through many of the discussions in the following days.

"It did set up and identify an important issue that people wanted to engage with refer to, or relate work to and it made me think as well one of purpose of many conferences and BELMAS, it puts you in touch with lots of different ideas and challenging ideas and challenging questions, and that's what it should be doing," he said.

"I hope you have all been encouraged to think differently, connected with someone ideas you wouldn't have come across before, or been energised through that."

 

by Susan Young

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