Javay Welter portrait

Written by Javay Welter

NPQ, MSc, Outstanding MFL teacher, public speaker, mentor and linguist.

On the 16th of October, I witnessed greatness. The Aspiring Heads Leadership Summit was phenomenal. Nadine and Ethan Bernard hosted a truly remarkable conference. Above all, this was the first leadership conference I had witnessed led by a current existing Black Headteacher, Nadine Bernard. Well done Nadine for your initiative, creating this platform and elevating future leaders. This was a pioneering conference, very timely and extremely forward-thinking.

The wide array of speakers in different fields provided a variety of perspectives and insights. Topics ranged from mentoring, strategic leadership to financial literacy. The speakers were all leaders and thought leaders in their respective fields. They shared their journey, resilience and barriers they had to overcome. The optional workshops were uplifting, insightful and edifying. I left feeling empowered, inspired and acquired so much wisdom. 

The first keynote speaker Bose Onaboye, who is a business strategist and leader, spoke about finding your leadership style and being highly reflective. Leadership development is a process. She encapsulated that leadership is a journey and not a destination. Leaders are readers. Therefore, one must strive to keep developing oneself and undertake CPDs. I fully agree that leading is a journey, not just a title. We must strive for excellence.

Another charismatic speaker Karl Pupé, an educator and author, highlighted that we must step out of our comfort zone to grow. Leadership is not easy and we must embrace change to grow. We must embrace more black leaders in all walks of life and value their unique and valuable skill sets and contributions. He mentioned that his various previous jobs have helped to strengthen his behaviour management, for example, negotiation, conflict resolution and dealing with challenging behaviour. His book Action Hero Teacher: Classroom Management Made Simple is an exemplary book on behaviour management. A must-read for new teachers.

Diana Osagie, a former black Headteacher and CEO of Courageous Leadership focused on being a human first and a leader second. Well-being is key to longevity. If you do not have health, you cannot lead. Sayce Holmes Lewis, Founder and CEO of Mentivity advocated that we need more servant leaders rather than being ego-centric ones to promote positive change. We need to lead from the back like Nelson Mandela. Sayce passionately highlighted that positive black male role models are crucial and that Devon Hanson, a former black Headteacher acted as an inspiration. Lavinya Stennett, founder and CEO of the Black Curriculum pointed out that Black History should be incorporated in the national curriculum and that representation is vital to success.

The second keynote speaker, Dr Leroy Logan MBE who is a former Metropolitan Police superintendent. He was also the chair of the National Black Police Association and discussed fear. He eloquently commented that his father feared his career choice. His father suffered police brutality. However, he had seen black role models and police officers in Jamaica which inspired him and it was his calling. Leroy emphasised that he entered the police profession to make a positive contribution and to help change the Met. His book ‘Closing Ranks’ shares his incredible journey from humble beginnings to becoming one the first black police superintendent in the UK. Leroy faced many adversities, barriers and did not give up. Importantly, he had a dream just like Dr Martin Luther King Jr. 

In conclusion, representation matters. Young pupils deserve a diverse education, inspiration and representation. Fundamentally, it is pivotal that they see leaders from diverse backgrounds to prepare them for the world of work. I believe that it would be beneficial to have more black and global majority leaders like Nadine Bernard leading conferences to elevate future generations and make a difference. Nadine has started a legacy. The next step is a follow-up conference.

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