Creating High Performing People
Valuing a Growth Culture


Experts in their field

We consider it an honour and a privilege to welcome two experts in quite distinct areas of education as keynote speakers at the inaugural OLEVI International Conference. Professor Peter Matthews OBE and Sarah Urquhart have both been instrumental in shaping their respective fields and continue to be active members of the educational community.


Professor Peter Matthews OBE

Picture of Peter Matthewsby Professor Sir George Berwick

One would expect someone who takes time off to sail around Britain to possess a determination to get things done and I can confirm that Professor Peter Matthews OBE does indeed fit that description.

Peter has built a career around thoroughness, establishing an international reputation in the area of school improvement, more specifically in inspection and evaluation. He worked for many years at OFSTED, helping to formulate their standards, and later for the OECD. This is a man who believes passionately that quality of teaching and learning directly impacts standards in education, and he has the research and personal testimony to support this.

Peter Matthews is an education consultant and visiting professor at the UCL Institute of Education. His specialist interests include school evaluation, effectiveness and improvement, and school and system leadership. He undertook the first evaluation of the Outstanding Teacher Programme and has undertaken many research and development projects for the Department for Education, OECD, Challenge Partners and numerous other organisations. Previously he has been a teacher, teacher educator, local authority chief adviser, senior civil servant and Her Majesty’s Inspector, responsible for school inspection and evaluation. In 2003, he was awarded an OBE for services to education.

“His thoughtful, incisive and empathetic questioning gave me the confidence to bring many of our ideas to fruition.”

I first met Peter in 2007 when he was sent by the National College to capture our early work on Teaching Schools. Over a long conversation he managed to elicit from me the ideas that underpinned the approach we were developing. His thoughtful, incisive and empathetic questioning gave me the confidence to bring many of our ideas to fruition. As a result, the encounter proved a fantastic learning experience and this marked the beginning of a long professional and personal friendship. The outcome of that meeting was the paper, Teaching Schools Concept, which formed the blueprint for this type of approach to school improvement. One that we are celebrating today.

Later, as the accreditation of Teaching Schools gained acceptance, we determined that selecting them from public data and their own testimony was not a guarantee of their success in supporting other schools.  We had learnt this from our work for London Challenge.  There, we had found when selecting consultant leaders that in addition to their school’s performance data and Ofsted Report, we required a site visit to ensure the culture of the school supported collaborative learning.  When the fledgling Teaching Schools Council sought an appropriate person to fulfil this onerous role, they unanimously elected Peter.

It was with his background experience in undertaking this role and mine as CEO of Teaching Schools that we published in 2011 our next paper for the DFE Teaching Schools – First amongst equals? At this point with the formation of the coalition government and the Department of Education being led by Micheal Gove, Teaching Schools became a central strand of the Government’s approach to school improvement. A role that continues to this day.

Peter continues to be as busy as ever. Most recently he has worked in Jordan and Guernsey and I have the privilege of presenting with him on the IOE’s International Leadership MBA.

That circumnavigation of the British Isles? He did that when he was 70.

Welcome Peter.


Sarah UrquhartPicture of Sarah Urquhart

by Richard Lockyer

Discovering what makes people tick has been a constant throughout Sarah Urquhart’s career – at least since her early 20s, when she found herself with the unenviable task of making people redundant.

This moment proved something of an epiphany for Sarah, and one that would shape her profession as she set out to make people happier in their workplaces. It led to her becoming one of the first coaches in the UK and has resulted in her working with some of the biggest household names in the world, coaching clients in the corporate and private sectors.

Her methods, developed through a mix of academic achievement and often unconventional means including improvisation and stand-up comedy, ensure a level of engagement that has earned her respect and admiration among peers and clients alike.

Commercial and customer-facing areas of a business will often call on Sarah to help strengthen their communication and relationship-building skills through coaching to develop emotional intelligence, relationship building, management practices, presentation skills and communication skills.

“Her methods ensure a level of engagement that has earned her respect and admiration among peers and clients.”

Sarah also coaches the coaches in an organisation; designing and delivering The Coaching Academy’s coaching training courses through which more than 50,000 trainee coaches have passed. She has also worked with the British Equestrian Federation to write their UKCC Coaching Levels learning resources, enabling riding instructors to change the way they work with their clients.

Alongside this, Sarah was part of the team that created an ILM Level 7 Coaching Programme that won the Training Journal’s Best Coaching Programme and between 2016-2017 she served as a Board Director of the UK Chapter of the International Coaching Federation, one of the regulatory bodies for the coaching industry.

Sarah also trains and coaches leaders to present at their internal conferences and as keynote speakers at international industry conferences. She has been known to attend alongside them to provide support to individuals and presenting teams in real time.

All of this means addressing large audiences has become a weekly occurrence for Sarah. And while all that time studying and performing stand-up comedy might have helped shape her approach, it has also armed her with an ability to look any audience in the eye and make them laugh. If that’s what makes them tick.

You can read more about Sarah Urquhart here http://sarahurquhart.com/about/

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