"Schools work best when adults believe in children and children believe they believe in them."
There are some Associates who are of significant importance to Independent Thinking, not just for being fantastic speakers and nice people, but for being living proof of what we believe in when it comes to educating some of our most vulnerable children.
Dave Whitaker is one of them.
As overall principal of a number of special schools, alternative provisions schools and PRUs in the East and North of England and a man who is walking the talk every day, Dave Whitaker is a very important principal for all of us at Independent Thinking.
His amazing work was introduced to us by Hywel Roberts and both Hywel and another Associate, Jane Hewitt, have spent a great deal of time working in and supporting Dave’s original school, Springwell Special Academy in Barnsley.
Working with incredibly vulnerable children and young people from KS1 to KS5 who are presenting with a whole range of social and emotional difficulties, Dave’s innovative work shows the power of care, love, support and, in his own words, ‘battering them with kindness’.
At the heart of all of his work is the principle of ‘unconditional positive regard’, a concept pioneered by the seminal psychologist Carl Rogers. Regardless of their actions - and their actions can be quite extreme at times as you may well imagine – Dave and his team of committed professionals will never lose sight of the human being in front of them, nor lose hope in their ability to make better choices and change their lives for the better.
Dave was brilliant and inspirational. An excellent speaker bringing many issues to life with his experience and stories
Absolutely fantastic! great skills and knowledgeable - came away with lots of ideas
Just wonderful! Everything we hoped for and more. 'Iinspirational’. He moved the room to tears and made many of us think twice about what we do now and how we can do it even better in future
I left with a feeling of determination and affirmation, so powerful and great to hear from such a successful practitioner
Powerful messages and thought provoking
Great to hear about such a successful school. Great humour and great ideas about behaviour management and how to be the perfect teacher
Dave was fantastic on Friday, we really enjoyed the session and look forward to working with Dave and Independent Thinking again!
Working in this way has caused Dave and his schools to be the subject of national attention, featured on national television as well as in the TES and The Guardian.
Such an approach is, in so many ways the antidote to the current state-sanctioned ‘zero tolerance’ approaches to behaviour, where ‘no excuses’ is an excuse to exclude some of our most vulnerable children, creating a direct pipeline to drugs, gangs, crime and prison.
Despite a ridiculously busy schedule running schools in a sector that has been equally ridiculously underfunded, Dave has still found time to be one of the founder members of the Headteachers’ Roundtable campaign group and is a contributor to a number of our collaborative books including The Working Class, our most recent book.
For a compassionate, entertaining and honest look at leadership at the sharp end of current policies and practices when it comes to the education of vulnerable children – and education done the right way – then Dave Whitaker is the speaker you need.
- Dave has been with Independent Thinking since October 2012
- You'll find him in our Leadership and Teaching and Learning topic areas
- You can watch Dave in conversation with Julie Rees and Ian Gilbert in 2020 here
- You may also want to consider Vic Goddard or Hywel Roberts
- Ask us about Dave's prices and current availability and for details on how to save money when you book, click here.
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