Leading the Educational Debate 

How can we best prepare our pupils for their future? 


15 April 2024

A central part of Downe House’s strategic vision is for the School to remain at the forefront of educational thought leadership. Downe has a proud, long, and successful record of providing an innovative and holistic education for its pupils and for encouraging its teachers to engage in research and continual professional development.  

However, we are never complacent, and one of the ways in which we remain engaged with contemporary and future challenges and opportunities is by welcoming educational luminaries to our school for debate and discussion. 

Last year, in June 2023, our Academic Conference was an extremely successful and exciting event which generated a good deal of discussion and publicity in the national press. 

The theme for this year’s Conference is Maximising Pupil Potential and is set for Thursday 13 June 2024, and we are thrilled to have attracted another set of impressive guest speakers.  

Our principal keynote will be Amanda Spielman, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Ofsted (2017-2023) and former Chair of Ofqual. Amanda had a successful career in banking before entering the educational arena, and her period as Chief Inspector is the longest anyone has served in this senior role. Her experience and insight into today’s educational landscape is second to none and we are extremely fortunate to have her as our guest.

Lisa Kerr, current Principal of Gordonstoun and the Principal-elect of George Watson’s College, Edinburgh (the UK’s largest independent school), has also agreed to be a keynote speaker. Lisa has a fascinating profile, having been a successful business leader before taking the reins at Gordonstoun – without ever having taught a lesson! She is a highly engaging speaker and leader and brings a fresh perspective. 

Downe House’s Conference is an excellent opportunity to reflect on how society is evolving and how educators can and should adapt to help our students succeed.
– Lisa Kerr

We will also be hearing from a leading light from the commercial sector, Jane Boardman OBE. Jane will speak from the perspective of a current employer, shedding light on how young people are adapting to current changes in today’s professional workplaces. Her insight will be invaluable to all parents and educators who want our young people to excel in the world beyond school and university. 

It is crucial for employers to understand the mindset of our next generation and I am thrilled to be part of this discussion at Downe House’s Conference.
– Jane Boardman

The event will also feature breakout groups led by the following senior figures from education and business. The common theme is how we can prepare young people to fulfil their potential in the rapidly evolving, modern world beyond school and university: 

WILL GOLDSMITH – Head of Bedales
Challenging the Paradigm: Reforming the Secondary Curriculum in the UK  

DAISY CHRISTODOULOU – Director of Education at No More Marking
Will Technology Transform Education?  

Prof. CASSIE WILSON – Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience) at University of Bath Ensuring Students Thrive at University and Beyond  

JONATHAN MITCHELL Deputy Director of Future Skills and Innovation at ifATE
Discovering Degree Apprenticeships

CHLOE COMBI Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Futurist, Research
Understanding the Mindset of the Next Generation  

The Conference will be of great interest to anyone involved or interested in education, and to employers who wish to learn more about the mindset of the next generation, as well as the challenges and opportunities that they face. 

There will be excellent networking opportunities, too – all with the usual outstanding Downe House hospitality. Anyone wishing to book a place should do so via this Eventbrite booking site. 

As our keynote speaker, Amanda Spielman, has said: “I am delighted to be speaking at Downe House’s Conference. I look forward to talking about how we make sure children leave school ready to make the most of their lives.”

We hope to see you on June 13th! 

Mattew Godfrey smiles at camera


Mr Matt Godfrey

Read more of our Deputy Head's blog posts

Book your tickets | Academic Conference – Maximising Pupils’ Potential | Thursday 13 June 2024
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