“Upside-down leadership starts with people, not government – that’s what makes a school genuinely outstanding”
Dave Smith
Dave Smith

At a time when leadership models in education seem to be based increasingly on ideas from business, Dave Smith shows that leading a school – and a very successful one at that – takes a very different sort of leadership.

For Dave, a good school is an upside down one, one that starts with the people in it - where they are, where they come from, what they bring into the classroom, what they bring to each lesson. From there you build up, to take into account whatever the government’s flavour of the day is. Never the other way round. It is this formula that has helped Dave’s school (a school in one of England’s most deprived boroughs) be in the top 300 performing schools for the last five years running, that led to not one but two ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted inspections and to Dave’s recent appointment as a National Leader in Education.

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  • Dave has been with Independent Thinking since 2009

  • Dave's DBS number is 001378260801 issued 17th September 2012

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Feedback from recent events include:

"Listening to you speak made my inner voice cheer! Thank you for your "walk of encouragement"; Thank you for your story of leadership with no illusions and thank you 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 should like to thank you for coming to our conference on Friday 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 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"

"Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed your presentation. You obviously run a fantastic school in very challenging circumstances. To be frank, sometimes leaders of such schools can come across as almost ‘super human’. As a recipient you walk away thinking either ‘I couldn’t do that’ or ‘I’m doing a pretty rubbish job’. I came away feeling neither. I felt inspired. Why? Because not only is your enthusiasm infectious, but you are very real, grounded and honest"

"I just wanted to pass on my thanks for a fantastic inset day. Dave Smith was a great presenter and delivered exactly what I was hoping to get from the day. All the staff felt really uplifted and gave hugely positive feedback"

"It was like a breath of fresh air, real and from concrete experience"

"I just loved it. I now remember why I came into teaching"


3rd December 2018 - From Coping to Thriving - The Resilience Conference

A must-see event of powerful keynotes and live one-to-one interviews for those working with children in challenging circumstances.

Parent Event

For many schools, getting parents to the school for an event is something that is only beaten in difficulty by getting the right parents to school for an event. That said, the parents who do come to our Learning and Motivation for Parents Events always head home buzzing with ideas that are not only helpful in dealing with their children but also very relevant for their own careers and personal development.

Governor Event

Being a governor is an incredibly important task these days so we are delighted when we are asked to support them in their work in all sorts of schools around the country. Apart from ensuring the event is an entertaining and enjoyable one for all, especialy as it is so often on a rainy Saturday, we make sure our input is informative, relevant, up to date and guarantees all governors go back into their schools knowing what to look for, what to do and the rights sorts of questions to ask.