Keven Bartle

Headteacher – Canons High School
Speaking at


Making Promises and Forgiving: The Theoretical and Empirical Case for Trust in School Leadership

In Hannah Arendt’s conception of the Vita Activa, she prioritises the importance of ‘action’ over ‘labour’ and ‘work’. But the consequences of our actions are unpredictable and irreversible, and the only way to cope with this is by making promises and forgiving. In this session, Keven will put the case for greater trust in schools, using theoretical and empirical evidence to suggest that promising and forgiving – of building trust – is not only our best avenue for making schools better places to work and study, but also for ensuring sustained, sustainable and sustaining school improvement.


Keven has been a Headteacher of a vibrant, multicultural London secondary school for four years. Dissatisfied with the dominant managerialist and bureaucratic discourse around school leadership, he has commenced a doctoral programme that draws from pragmatic philosophy, process sociology and the complexity sciences. In doing so, he hopes to better understand what ‘good enough’ school leadership looks like. He has a strong interest in how trusting relationships in schools can play a key role in making them joyful and rewarding places to work and study.


Twitter: @kevbartle