Annual School Leadership Conference 2023

Annual School Leadership Conference 2023

12 & 13 October 2023 at Saunton Sands Hotel, Nr Braunton, North Devon EX33 1LQ


Joe Sparks

CEO of The Green Room Foundation and Leader of Pixl Sparks

Joe has built three alternative provisions for children who for a number of reasons cannot access mainstream education.

Together with his partner Richard Allen they built the company from nothing to the thriving organisation it is today. There are now three Green Rooms, one in a street, one on a farm and one in a pub! All rated Outstanding by Ofsted (Oct 2018).

Joe still leads the organisation, but has stepped down as Headteacher to work nationally for The Pixl Club. Delivering his own behaviour self improvement system Level Best. Over 500 schools now use Level Best and Joe tours the country talking and training.

Joe is a passionate and dedicated leader, relentless in pursuing seemingly impossible outcomes for staff and students. He is a motivational speaker, coach and dedicated animal lover and when he’s not doing those things, he ‘falls off the map’ in his old motorhome and goes surfing.

Dr Pooky Knightsmith

Keynote Speaker, Author & Advisor

An internationally respected face of child and adolescent mental health, Pooky works tirelessly to ‘be the change she wants to see’. A prolific keynote speaker, lecturer, trainer and author, she develops and shares practical, evidence-informed approaches to promoting mental health – arming health, social care and education staff with the skills, understanding and knowledge they need to support the children in their care.

Pooky has a PhD in child mental health from the Institute of Psychiatry, is the author of many books, is the research and development director at Creative Education and is a former chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition. She lives in Sussex with her two daughters, husband, mother-in-law and three dogs.  She’s a keen climber, an amateur knitter and a tenor in her local choir. She lives with PTSD and autism.

You can follow Pooky on TwitterYouTubeInstagram, Facebook or LinkedIn

Dr Steph Ainsworth 

Reader in Education at Manchester Met, Teacher Educator and Education Researcher

Steph is an interdisciplinary researcher with a particular interest in teacher wellbeing and the role of emotions in education. She spent several years as a primary school teacher before completing a PhD in Psychology and then moving to her current role as researcher/teacher educator at Manchester Met.

Steph is currently leading a large-scale study into teacher resilience, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). As someone who has always found it tricky to develop a work-life balance herself, she is passionate about teacher wellbeing and believes that all teachers deserve to work in conditions that support them to thrive as happy, healthy individuals.

Steph lives in Manchester with her two sons, a very patient husband and a passive aggressive dog called Baxter. Steph enjoys walking, reading and is addicted to holidays.

Will Njobvu

TV and radio presenter and public speaker on mental health, diversity, inclusion and racial equality

Will Njobvu has presented notable British television shows including Good Morning Britain on ITV, The Masked Singer Unmasked on ITV Hub & ITV2 and The Jeremy Vine show on Channel 5.

Diversity, inclusion and racial equality is a topic close to Will’s heart as he was racially abused at school and college. Now, he is determined to make change, educate and inspire.

Will was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse at the age of 22, a heart condition he doesn’t let define him. Doctors told him he could have dropped dead if he hadn’t been diagnosed in time.

As a member of the LGBT community who was bullied because of his sexuality in school, Will enjoys speaking about the importance of being comfortable with your identity and taking care of your mental health ; as he too has overcome depression in the past.


Dave Keeling

Education, health and business speaker – change management, Improving teamwork & communication, developing creativity, enhancing wellbeing

Dave ‘Billy Elliot’ Keeling grew up in a pit village in Nottinghamshire and was tap dancing three times a week by the age of ten.

Never one to shy away from challenge and risk, he then moved into the world of acting and trained at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Dave has worked extensively in theatre and television.

Dave has been a Laughologist since 2008. Highly engaging, dynamic, fast-paced and quick-witted, he has been delivering workshops and programmes for Laughology in education, health and business.