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Dave Smith

"Upside-down leadership starts with people, not government – that’s what makes a school genuinely outstanding."

After leaving school with one O-level (he thought one was better than none), Dave has worked his way up the ladder the hard way to become one of the country's most effective headteachers. Not to mention his time as a junior at Liverpool FC en route.

It is with insights from his own chequered academic career - not to mention time at Anfield - that help him know how to get into the mind of some of the hardest to reach children in school. And then to help schools design a curriculum that really helps them, and indeed all children, excel.

As Headteacher of a northern UK primary school situated in the third most deprived borough in the country, Dave has taken the school through two Ofsted inspections, in 2005 and 2008, gaining “Outstanding” in all areas on both occasions.

Or, in the words of former Ofsted chief, Professor Christine Gilbert, after a recent visit to Dave's school, 'The strong sense of both purpose and community in the school is palpable. Wherever I looked, I could see evidence of the inspiring way in which you are translating your mission and vision into outstanding practice.'

Nicely put.

On top of such plaudits it's also worth noting that the school was named as one of the top 200 performing schools in the country, performed in the top 10% of all schools for the last five years, placed number 50 in The Sunday Times top 300 high performing schools and has now been recognised as a Leadership Development School.

Dave is currently a National Leader of Education, supporting schools in improving standards, progress, leadership and management and has recently seen one of his schools move from good to be judged as ‘Good with outstanding features’. As part of a Teaching School Alliance, he also delivers leadership and management training, is chair of the Southern Area Collaborative of 22 schools working together for improvement and is very active in the School Improving School System process.

Thank you for your 'walk of encouragement' and for your story of leadership with no illusions and for granting us all permission to shake it all up a bit and to have the confidence to turn it 'upside down and inside out'

I found Dave Smith to be inspiring and he has genuinely enthused me with a different approach to managing people. I have taken practical tips when I will take back to school and use

Thank you for coming to our conference and for speaking with such a marvellous blend of inspiration and humour which was just what was needed to leave our audience buzzing with enthusiasm

I felt your enthusiastic and honest approach showed how to get everyone thinking in many different ways within a primary school setting

You showed how, by making sensible changes to improve learning and making it fun, we will get the most out of our children

"Raise the praise and minimise the criticise" was an excellent way to inspire children and staff

The enthusiasm in delivery displayed to me what all the good things about being a Headteacher are and how influential we can be and in particular to lead

This session was definitely the highlight of the conference for me and I took a lot back to school so i would like to thank Dave for this

I too need praise and this session made me feel like an inspirational leader again

To add to this busy life, he also holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Process Consultancy from Manchester CEL and is currently contributing to the Middle Leadership Development Programme Qualification, Senior Leadership Development Programme Qualification and the new NPQH.

He's a genuinely busy man, one who clearly knows a thing or two about running a school, especially one in challenging circumstances. He's also a warm, challenging, entertaining and inspiring speaker and and great addition to our team since we bumped into him on a coach going to a fancy do in Lincolnshire.

  • Dave has been with Independent Thinking since February 2009
  • You'll find him in our Leadership topic area
  • You might also want to consider Will Ryan or Julie Rees
  • Ask us about Dave's prices and current availability and for details on how to save money when you book, click here.

Make a booking, ask a question, panic. All acceptable.

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