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Annual Conference

At Mercia Learning Trust, we understand the value of gathering all staff from across the Trust together on an annual basis. This is why we offer all trust staff an annual INSET day of bespoke CPD and the chance to work collaboratively across the Trust.


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Our 2024 conference was held in February at The Octagon Centre, University of Sheffield, in February 2024.

As always, our annual conference evolves each year to meet the CPD needs of the team, current 'hot topics' in education, and Trust priorities. This was our 6th conference, and we believe our most engaging yet!

Oracy is a priority of the Trust, and as such, we were delighted to partner with Sheffield's Poet Laureate, Danae Wellington, and her colleague Tanya Brown. They worked in our schools for 6 months developing pupils' oracy and performance skills in assemblies and workshops across our schools this term. The outcome of this work was a powerful performance of poetry at the conference, all written and performed by our students.

Our primary and secondary colleagues took part in interactive keynote sessions by Voice 21.

With time for colleagues to work together as well as networking, we are enjoyed a brilliant wellbeing presentation by Julie Hurst, as well as the launch of Mercia Star Awards!


An engaging day full of warmth and appreciation.

Such a powerful event, which served to remind us of our core values and to reinvigorate our teamwork and individual teaching practice.

It was a great experience to have time with colleagues from other schools, and generally come together as a trust.

A great opportunity to discuss curriculum with other schools, share good practice and ideas.


It was exceptionally well organised and was a really valuable day. Thank you for also giving the students the opportunity to perform, I know this will stay with them forever. 



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Mercia EdCon 2023: Festival of Education was our 5th annual conference, hosted at Mercia School.

Our Festival of Education allowed us to offer over 500 delegates access to wide-ranging CPD in the form of internationally-renowned educational speakers, bespoke workshops, 'think-tanks' and the opportunity to work collaboratively across the schools.

We were also very excited to launch our first parallel student conference to run alongside our staff conference. 60 children from our six schools worked with Solutions 4 the Planet on the problem of 'how can we make our schools more sustainable for the future?'. We had a very impressive panel of experts lined up to analyse and support their findings on the day, including the Mayor of South Yorkshire, Oliver Coppard.

Delegates were treated to a fantastic lunch prepared by Mercia School's very own chef. The 'family dining' experience was a real talking point, with delegates experiencing how students at the school dine together, including serving each other and clearing the tables as students do.


It was a huge pleasure, thanking for inviting me, and I had a great time. It was one of the best organised events I have ever been to!

Tom Bennett

I wanted to say how much I enjoyed this year's conference.  I can only imagine all the planning and organising that goes on behind the scenes - I thought it was a brilliant day, super organised and I got a lot from it.  


This event was about putting youth voice at the heart of the Trust’s plan for sustainability – it empowers young people to be part of the conversation and know they have been listened to in which their community will become a better place. The success of this event has opened our eyes to more opportunities to work with schools and trusts to empower youth voice.
Matt Ronayne, Solutions for the Planet

Thank you so much for having me yesterday. It was so lovely to see the ideas the children came up with and gave me lots of hope for the future of the planet!

Panellist from the student conference

Congratulations on the event – the feedback speaking to the staff was that it was the best yet and they really enjoyed both the breakout sessions being smaller (so not all in one group) and the fact that TAs were with teaching staff rather than separate.

Fiona Benoist, Trustee

What an inspiring session.  How amazing were they all!  I felt so emotional in parts of it.  You must all be so proud of what you’ve achieved today and to see that level of engagement from all of your students too.  Just fantastic.

Karen Mosley, Managing Director of HLM Architects

The speakers at this year's conference were really great!  I really got a lot out of the ones I saw.


Great for refection, and lots of ideas I can practically implement into my teaching.



In February 2022 the trust was still dealing with the impact of COVID on large-scale gatherings, so we provided a hybrid event for our classroom-based staff. 

As with previous conferences we secured the services of leading educationalists in this field, and best practice from within our own trust to lead and inform our thinking. Nick Whittaker (former HMI and Specialist Adviser, SEND) shared the research that underpins the Ofsted framework. David Bartram OBE (Former SEND lead for London schools and DFE adviser) shared his thoughts on best practice relating to SEND, and Sally Franklin (Former Senior Teaching Fellow at the Institute for Education, UCL & SEND consultant) worked exclusively with our education support staff.

We spent the afternoon exploring the following questions:

1.    Do we fully understand the needs of these children, the agreed strategies and plans designed to help them?

2.    Do we know about their often complex backgrounds to better understand their individual challenges?

3.    Is the curriculum designed to meet their needs? Do we understand the impact of covid, but also are our expectations ambitious enough?

4.    Are we deploying other adults effectively in classrooms? This may be so that the class teacher can spend more time with the neediest?

5.    Do we acknowledge that the solution for success for these children will substantially take place in our classroom?

6.    In what ways does our practice need to improve?

The day was a fantastic success, and we were really pleased to have the whole team together again. Staff came away feeling they'd learnt a lot, had a good chance to reflect on their own practice, and made connections with other team members from across the trust.


In February 2021, our conference went virtual! MLTogether EdCon2021: Momentum focussed on the continued development of our fantastic staff, with 4 high profile keynote speakers booked for the day. We only wanted the best for the event, so heard from education research greats: David Didau, Dylan Wiliam, Mary Myatt and Marc Rowland. Staff had the opportunity to hear from these gurus of educational research, then take part in live Q&A sessions.

A deeply thought-provoking and enjoyable day to reflect, learn and hone what is at the heart of what we do as teachers every day.

MLT Teacher

Topics covered included:

  • Curriculum Development
  • Embedding Formative Assessment
  • Building a Reading Culture
  • Intelligent Accountability
  • Making Meaning in English
  • Teacher Quality
  • Culture in Schools
  • Embedding Challenge & Ambition
  • Improving Outcomes for Disadvantaged Learners
  • Evaluating & Iterating the Curriculum

One of the highlights of the day was the premiering of our annual student and staff performance. Take a look below...


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In February 2020, we built on the success of the first conference, this time featuring Tom Bennett as keynote. Working closely with our friends at Sheffield Theatres, the event was held at the Lyceum theatre, and later at Sheffield Hallam University.

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In 2019, our annual conference was born, hosted at the wonderful Crucible theatre, with Tom Sherrington as keynote speaker.

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