Running a stall at Virtual School Conference 2023 

You may know of Elland Road in Leeds as the home of Leeds United Football Club. However, on 3 February it was also home to Leeds City Council’s Virtual School Conference at which Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) was invited to exhibit.  

The Virtual School monitors attendance, attainment and achievement and makes sure that looked after children’s education is a top priority in their care planning. They work with ages 3-18 and beyond to ensure that children in care have the best possible chance to be successful in adulthood. 

In preparation for running a stall at the event, our Partnership Assistant designed promotional postcards. Me and the Care to Go Higher Delivery Officer represented GHWY. It had been a while since I had last attended an in-person conference and much longer since I last ran a stall for an employer. Meanwhile, my colleague had only run a stall as part of a hobby. This breadth of experience makes GHWY an interesting place to work. 

We were there to promote GHWY’s HE Transition Pack for disabled students. The e-resource helps disabled students to navigate the complex and confusing transition to HE. (Read more about its launch and development, if you are interested).  

It may seem odd to promote such a resource at an event aimed at supporting care leavers but we know that students can (and do) belong to more than one under-represented group (known as intersectionality). This means students have unique experiences, which result in diverse challenges. That’s where the transition pack comes in, as a resource to support those from under-represented groups. Diversity and Ability recently wrote an interesting article about the hidden intersectionality of care experience, disability and of neurodiversity.  

The Conference brought together teaching staff, safeguarding leads, school leaders, and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos). With an estimated 200 delegates, there were staff ranging all the way from early years / primary school to post-16 / Higher Education (HE). The programme was well run: welcome and introduction from Jancis Andrew (Head of Virtual School); choice of workshops (including Looking After Adults Looking After Children, and wellbeing in education); networking opportunities; and a keynote speech from Jaz Ampaw-Farr (award winning speaker, author, and broadcaster). 

Through exhibiting at the event, we spoke to over 50 people. These included those we knew through video calls; those who had only heard of GHWY through their colleagues (all good stuff!); and those new to us. It was a good opportunity to make new connections and to also develop existing relationships. 

Thank you to Jancis Andrew for inviting us to attend the Conference. We were glad to have an opportunity to attend and promote our work with under-represented groups. You can find out more about this work here. 

Our next steps are both specific and broad. We will reflect on the event, follow up with people, and consider other events at which we could exhibit. More broadly, we will continue to disseminate and evaluate our Transition Pack. 


Tahera Mayat, GHWY Collaborative Outreach Officer