We are delighted to announce that Gareth Conyard will join the Teacher Development Trust as our new Director of Education from the end of January, 2022.

Gareth is currently a Deputy Director at the Department for Education where he has led teacher and workforce development programmes including the Early Career Framework for teachers, National Professional Qualifications for senior leaders, school governance policy, and equality and diversity amongst the teaching workforce. 

David Weston, TDT’s CEO, writes:

“We’re really pleased to have appointed Gareth Conyard as our new Director of Education. Gareth is someone who really shares TDT’s core values and has a real passion for making schools places where staff thrive, creating buzzing and engaged workplaces where teachers can draw upon the best wisdom in the profession to help all pupils succeed. We’re an organisation that’s joyfully nerdy about quality research while always rooted in what’s really happening on the ground in schools – it’ll be a pleasure having him join our team and being part of this important work.”

Gareth writes:

“I am so excited by the prospect of coming to work with the Teacher Development Trust, an organisation that is founded on the notion of frank and honest conversations, using evidence to drive decisions, and imbued with the belief that every person should be supported to be the best they can be.

Many years ago, a line manager asked me the question, “What do you need to be at your best?”  I was completely taken aback by the question at the time and I didn’t really know how to answer it.  Which is why, I suppose, the question has stayed with me and why I now use it often when I talk to my own team. 

At first, I tried to think about it through the lens of training and development – what course I could do, what area of expertise I could enhance – and that got me so far.  Then I started to frame it through the lens of experience – what work could I take on that would play to my strengths or challenge me in the right way – and that made the answer better.  Yet it wasn’t until I started to think about it holistically, to understand all the things that might come together to make me perform particularly well in one moment, or sub-optimally in another, that I really made proper headway in answering the question.  At that moment I realised that the most telling factors in any given moment might be incredibly mundane (I had indigestion) or incredibly profound (something about the context triggered some anxiety I was working through). 

This is why I’m such a believer in great  professional development. It can provide you with tools to respond to more challenging situations, whatever the cause.  But simply taking a course isn’t enough to get better. No matter how good, no matter how strong the underpinning evidence base, it’s the wider factors at play that help everyone perform at their best. 

Some of these are linked directly to wellbeing, having a good night’s sleep, eating well, exercising, when facing a difficult work challenge.  Some of them are about emotional and mental health. I have been lucky to get professional therapy support when I have needed it, which has made a huge impact in terms of helping me manage my own anxieties.  In fact, there is a broader lesson I have learnt from my own experiences of therapy – that the things that feel intensely personal to me, that feel like I might be the only one struggling with, are in fact incredibly common and that the things that can make them better are well documented, based on strong evidence, and can be learned.

Taken together, the lesson I have drawn is that effective development has to be led by what an individual needs and must take account of what the biggest challenges and issues actually are – honestly and frankly – to be most useful.  This means that it must be done in a particular way, one that is about openness, understanding, and support.  How that conversation takes place is just as important as what the content of development might need to be.

I have thought about this a lot in my career to date and I have especially benefited from being a Trustee of Education Support – a charity that provides wellbeing support to those working in education.  At work, I have worked hard to create cultures where development is seen holistically, where people are supported to respond to the challenges they are ready to take on, and where training is delivered in the right way.

I’m starting my new role as Director of Education at the Teacher Development Trust at the end of January 2022 and I’m looking forward to keeping these principles at the heart of what I do.”