School leadership during COVID-19: Perspectives from the front line

Monday 15 June 2020 (17:00-18:00)
Headteacher Dr Kulvarn Atwal and Principal Ela McSorley
Headteacher Dr Kulvarn Atwal and Principal Ela McSorley

The lockdown and phased re-opening of schools has had a profound impact on school leaders. The role of education has changed from being primarily about learning to one carrying a huge social function for the country. Moral and ethical leadership has flourished as heads have created new ways of working for the most vulnerable children face-to-face and innovated with on-line learning.

This seminar was led by Executive Headteacher Dr Kulvarn Atwal from North East London and Principal Ela McSorley from Ark Victoria in Birmingham who shared their experiences and knowledge of recent events. The seminar was chaired by Ava Sturridge-Packer CBE, former primary head in Birmingham and currently DfE and Birmingham Education Partnership adviser.

About the speakers 

Dr Kularn Atwal

Dr Kulvarn Atwal FCCT has spent his entire career teaching and leading in East London schools and is currently Head Teacher at Highlands Primary School. Highlands was recently awarded the Mayor of London's Schools for Success award for the third year in a row; one of only 30 primary or secondary schools in London to achieve this award. He is also currently Interim Head Teacher of Uphall Primary School, which is one of the largest primary schools in the country.

Kulvarn specialises in teacher professional learning. His doctoral thesis highlighted the factors that impact upon teacher engagement in professional learning activities, with a particular focus on workplace learning theories and action research.

He attended the University of Birmingham in the 1990s, completing a B.Soc.Sc. in History and Social Science. He has recently been awarded Fellowship Status at the Chartered College of Education and has published his first book, 'The Thinking School. Developing a Dynamic Learning Community'. He occasionally tweets @thinkingschool2.

Ela McSorley

Ela McSorley FCCT has worked in education in and around Birmingham for the last twenty-three years, eighteen of which within senior leadership teams. She has worked across a variety of different schools, including some time in international education, within a small multi-faith Trust as a Director of Learning and Teaching and a variety of schools across the midlands as deputy headteacher and now Principal of a large all-through school, in Small Heath, Birmingham. She has also worked as a curriculum advisor at QCDA and an English subject lead for ITT at the King Edward’s Consortium.

Ela is a founding fellow of the Chartered College of Teachers and has contributed to the CCT’s research journal, Impact, sharing some original research she has worked on with an academic from the University of Birmingham, on Pattern Grammar. She has worked as a leader in a pathfinder school on the Ethical Leadership programme and has been a member of the advisory group, developing the Chartered Teacher Programme and support for the early career teachers.

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