October 2014

NEWS AND GUIDANCE

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News and guidance

In the news

Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy. Expand

Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy.

Behaviour

Much of the broadcast and print media, including the BBC, ITV News and several daily newspapers and radio stations carried interviews and quotes featuring ASCL General Secretary Brian Lightman following HMCI Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments that schools are not doing enough to tackle classroom disruption. Brian said:

“Sir Michael Wilshaw’s claims about rampant poor behaviour simply don’t stand up in the face of evidence from his own inspection service. If low level disruption is as widespread as he says, it certainly isn’t backed up by inspection grades, which show that pupil behaviour is one of the strongest aspects in schools. “We are not saying that behaviour is perfect all the time and that every school gets it right. However, this is not just about schools.

Where there are issues, parents need to take equal responsibility for making sure that children understand what is appropriate behaviour and what is disruptive.”


No-notice inspections

Several media outlets, including the BBC and the Daily Mail, also featured Brian saying that unannounced routine school inspections would be counterproductive, following Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comment that he is reconsidering the issue. Brian said:

“Where there is an urgent cause for concern, there is a strong case for inspectors to visit a school unannounced. However, moving to no-notice for routine inspections is unnecessary and would be counterproductive. It stifles creativity and treats professionals like naughty children. School leaders need to be held accountable, but at the same time inspection needs to be proportionate.”


End of banding in Wales

Media in Wales, including WalesOnline, ITV News and South Wales Evening Post, featured interviews and quotes from ASCL Cymru Secretary Robin Hughes saying he is pleased that the minister for Wales has confirmed that banding in its current form is to end and a new way of holding schools to account is to start. Robin said:

“Accountability is important and necessary. There is a lot of public money involved, as well as the hopes of parents and young people. But poor accountability helps no one.

“This new system has benefited from lengthy discussions and will take account of more of the things that matter. It has real promise. Implementing the model will need care and we will be looking closely at lessons learnt along the way.

“The minister and his officials have been listening. He is acting decisively to find a more intelligent way to ensure our schools are accountable and we applaud him for it.

“This isn’t the end of the story. It is the beginning of a new one. There is work to be done and we will engage in the ongoing discussions that are about to begin on implementing this promising new regime.”

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ASCL Influence

Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy. Expand

Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy.

Meeting with education secretary

ASCL General Secretary Brian Lightman and general secretaries from other unions met the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan as part of the ongoing talks on implementation of policy. 

An extremely constructive discussion about the causes of high workload took place at which Brian spoke about the deep seated culture largely driven by the accountability system. Brian and ASCL President Peter Kent are due to have a one-to-one meeting with Nicky Morgan soon and she also attended ASCL’s fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference.

Party conferences

Brian Lightman, President Peter Kent and Deputy General Secretary Malcolm Trobe attended all three party conferences. ASCL hosted a well-attended invitation fringe meeting about school autonomy at each of the conferences.

STRB

Brian and Malcolm met the new Chair of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) Patricia Rice. They discussed the extreme difficulties that many schools are having recruiting staff, the fact that another 1 per cent pay settlement is inadequate and the factors that cause the high and increasing workload of school leaders. ASCL will be submitting written and oral evidence.

National Funding Formula

Malcolm also met with Treasury staff to discuss the importance of implementing a National Funding Formula and he expressed concern over the currently unacceptably low level of funding for 16-18 year-old students.

Initial Teacher Training (ITT)

Brian met with Sir Andrew Carter who is leading the review of ITT. They had a wide-ranging and very worthwhile discussion on what constitutes effective ITT practice. 

A group of ASCL headteacher members met with a group of Teach First teachers for a round-table discussion about ITT and working in challenging schools. Brian has written an article to be published shortly in Sec Ed www.sec-ed.co.uk/ about this.

Governance

Brian also met Lord Nash to discuss school governance. This was an extremely constructive discussion about the implications of the ‘Trojan horse’ events and new regulations about the constitution of governing bodies.

National College Leadership Curriculum

Brian attended a meeting with licensees for the National College Leadership Curriculum to discuss the future of these valued qualifications in the context of plans by the government to step back from its involvement.

Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC)

ASCL Business Leadership Specialist Val Andrew represents ASCL on this committee that works to raise awareness of the risks of asbestos in our schools and colleges and provides guidance for the safe management of existing asbestos-related materials. The group is also working to influence government policy on the management of these risks, and is pushing for a national strategy that would ultimately see the safe removal of asbestos from all educational establishments.

EFA Academies Finance and Assurance Steering Group

Val also represents ASCL on this group that is helping to develop the academies finance and assurance framework, leading to an improved financial reporting system that minimises the administrative burdens on academies. Priorities for 2014/15 include the next stage revision to the Academies Financial Handbook (http://tinyurl.com/lcqmtj9), resources for fraud awareness, the Accounts Direction, Accounts Return and the Regularity Audit.

Post-16 update

ASCL Colleges Specialist Stephan Jungnitz met with Minister Nick Boles at the Ministerial Post-16 Working Group meeting. The question of developing functional skills qualifications for students on vocational programmes was discussed. The minister expressed interest in further discussion on this topic. 

Stephan also represented ASCL at the DfE working group on developing the new headline accountability measures (due to be published in January 2017). Issues of data significance and unrepresentative percentages were raised with officials.

Ofsted

ASCL Inspections Specialist Suzanne O’Farrell met with Ofsted’s Director for Schools to discuss the impact of the volatility of the 2014 GCSE results. 

As a result, Ofsted’s data team is looking closely at the data of schools due to be inspected this term to see how they have been affected. They will then issue guidance to inspectors once they have identified the issues.

High Needs funding

ASCL Funding Specialist Richard Newton Chance attended the High Needs External Group meeting at the DfE about the changes to High Needs funding associated with this September’s new SEND arrangements. Richard reiterated the views of mainstream schools about the impact of the changes and the proposals for 15-16 year-olds. He highlighted concerns about the move to new Education, Health and Care Plans and the need to maintain High Needs top-up funding to support pupils during the transfer period.

Careers guidance

ASCL wrote a letter to Graham Stuart (http://tinyurl.com/mztzmkp) as Chair of the Education Select Committee to welcome the committee’s follow-up enquiry on careers guidance and to offer the committee support with its work. In addition to ASCL’s written response, we have offered the committee joint oral evidence and now await a response.

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Retiring? Join as an associate

Retirement need not mean the end of your involvement with ASCL. Expand

Retirement need not mean the end of your involvement with ASCL. We have valued your membership and hope you feel the same. By becoming an associate member you can continue to enjoy many of the benefits of ASCL membership at a reduced cost.

Associates continue to receive ASCL publications, including Leader and a regular associates newsletter, have the opportunity to attend national and branch meetings, and can access the ASCL website. There is representation through an elected Associates’ Committee, an annual reunion lunch and committee involvement at local level. Associates also have the chance to give something back through the Associates Voluntary Service, which offers assistance and support to members still in post.

Legal cover for part-time teaching is available at a small additional fee. Associate membership is available either by payment annually or a one-off payment for a lifetime subscription.

Join as an associate member today and find out more about how we can support you in retirement – see the ASCL website for further information, including details of the newly elected members of the associates committee at www.ascl.org.uk/associates

We welcome involvement from all associate members, including articles for the associates newsletter (please email your copy to associatesnews@ascl.org.uk) and hope to meet as many of you as possible at the reunions.

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Safer social networking

The open nature of the Internet and social networking means that everyone, including senior leaders, should take active steps to protect themselves and their school or college by taking some simple precautions. Expand

The open nature of the Internet and social networking means that everyone, including senior leaders, should take active steps to protect themselves and their school or college by taking some simple precautions. ASCL has produced a guidance paper: Social Networking and Social Media – Guidance for Members, which is available on the ASCL website: www.ascl.org.uk/social-media-guidance

The following information offers some thoughts as to what to do to safeguard yourself as well as other staff, and to avoid compromising your professional position; for further advice, read the full guidance paper. In addition to this, your school or college should have ‘use of IT policies', including the use of social media. Make sure you know how it affects you.

Top ten tips


1 Think before you post...

  • anything about your institution, staff, pupils or parents 
  • anything about you (in particular an image that directly or indirectly lowers your reputation or that of your institution)

2 Don’t make social network friends with your pupils (including past pupils) or parents.

3 Use privacy settings on your account.

4 Be careful where you post.

5 Don’t share compromising material.

6 Always use strong passwords and log out when you leave your account.

7 Check what others post about you.

8 Use ‘untag’ or ask for unsuitable material about you to be taken down.

9 Send emails from institutional accounts in professional language and do not send emails that you would not be happy for your employer or colleagues to read.

10 If you are the victim of harassment online then…

  • contact the service provider first to see how they could help
  • if this does not solve the issue, ask your employer if they can take action on your behalf
  • if the harassment is criminal, approach the police

For further information please also see the following Leader magazine articles:

School case studies:

www.leadermagazine.co.uk/ articles/digital_dangers

Anti-social media:

www.leadermagazine.co.uk/ articles/antisocial_media

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New GCSE grades

Ofqual has released details of new GCSE grades and how they will be applied from 2017. Expand

Ofqual has released details of new GCSE grades and how they will be applied from 2017. The new GCSE grading structure will have three  xed links to the current system: the bottom of a new grade 4 will be closely aligned to the bottom of a current grade C, the bottom of grade 1 will be closely aligned to the bottom of a G and the bottom of a grade 7 to a grade A.

Assuming a similar national prior attainment cohort, broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 4 and above as currently receive a grade C and above, broadly the same will achieve a grade 7 and above as achieve a grade A and above. A grade 5 will be more demanding than the present grade C and the new mathematics GCSE will be tiered, with grade 4 and 5 available through both tiers. 

  • See the summary online at

www.ascl.org.uk/newgrades

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Have your say on this year’s GCSE results

Following many reports of volatility in this year’s GCSE results, ASCL is conducting an enquiry to try to establish the underlying causes. Expand

Following many reports of volatility in this year’s GCSE results, ASCL is conducting an enquiry to try to establish the underlying causes. We would be grateful if all members would complete our short online survey (www.surveymonkey.com/s/GCSEenquiry).

When completing the survey please use the numbers that you would expect to be reported in the performance tables, for example with cohort size. Please ensure that only one member per school completes the survey to avoid duplication. If you would like to be contacted for a follow-up interview/ case study, please indicate this at the end of the survey. The deadline for responses is Friday 31 October 2014.

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Subscription frozen for another year!

We are pleased to announce that subscription rates for members have been frozen for the fourth year running. Expand

We are pleased to announce that subscription rates for members have been frozen for the fourth year running. We recognise that members are facing an uncertain economic climate and financial pressures due to pension and cost of living increases, and, therefore, subscriptions will not increase for 2015, which means that members are paying the same rate as in 2011.

We hope you will agree that, for the service and support it provides, ASCL membership represents good value for money.

While subscriptions have remained unchanged for four years, increasing membership numbers mean that we are still able to invest in the association to provide you with the high level of service you deserve. Please visit www.ascl.org.uk to find out more about how we are supporting school and college leaders throughout the nation.

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New guidance on A level reform

ASCL has produced a guidance paper: Expand

ASCL has produced a guidance paper: Implementing A level Reform to assist members in the very difficult decisions they are currently making about the structure of A level courses from 2015. The guidance covers the facts about AS and A level reform, includes a summary of the options which we know members are considering from feedback received and, highlights the issues to consider before making your decision. Find out more at www.ascl.org.uk/Alevelreform

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Admissions fraud

In what seems to be the first case of admissions fraud to be carried through to court, a mother was fined £500 for conspiring to set up a false address so as to make her daughter eligible for entry into secondary schools in a neighbouring London borough. Expand

In what seems to be the first case of admissions fraud to be carried through to court, a mother was fined £500 for conspiring to set up a false address so as to make her daughter eligible for entry into secondary schools in a neighbouring London borough. The fraud was quite complex, involving documents purporting to be a tenancy agreement from a fake housing firm. It has been estimated that there may be up to 400 fraudulent address statements and other admissions fraud in a year and previous efforts to gather evidence and prosecute have been unsuccessful. It is to be hoped that this case will mark the beginning of a more successful attack on the denial of legitimate applicant's chances of admission to a preferred school.

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Inducements

Under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 it is unlawful to offer employees an inducement to leave collective bargaining agreements. Expand

Under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 it is unlawful to offer employees an inducement to leave collective bargaining agreements. The offer of a pay rise and a one-off payment of £200 was deemed to be such an inducement when the London Borough of Bromley sought to move part of its workforce from national agreements to a local agreement. While it is unlikely, stand-alone academies aiming to use the ability to set pay may want to make sure that they have taken advice before moving.

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Talented Leaders:

The Talented Leaders programme is aiming to find 100 headteachers for schools in areas that struggle to recruit. Expand

Could you lead the school that needs you most?

The Talented Leaders programme is aiming to find 100 headteachers for schools in areas that struggle to recruit. These headteachers will be required to relocate to schools where students need to see achievement and aspiration raised, committing to lead their new schools for at least three years.

Speaking at the launch, Education Minister David Laws said: “If you are a head or an aspiring head who already has a proven track record of raising standards and improving the education offered to all children and you think you have what it takes to make a real difference to a school in need of a great leader then we want to hear from you.”

ASCL Deputy General Secretary Malcolm Trobe also spoke at the launch of the programme, emphasising the need for support for leaders of schools in challenging circumstances. He said that sufficient time must be given to enable sustainable improvements and that appropriate arrangements need to be made with Ofsted regarding the nature and timing of inspections.

ASCL Professional Development has been working with the Talented Leaders programme team to design assessment activities for applicants and will also be involved in training the programme assessors on what skills and behaviours to look for.

To find out more visit www.ascl.org.uk/futureleadersorg

Submit your application by Sunday 16 November and be eligible for Assessment Window 2. You would be invited for assessment sometime from late November to mid-December.

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Guidance: Asthma inhalers

Schools are now allowed to purchase and keep a supply of emergency salbutamol inhalers for children suffering from asthma. Expand

Schools are now allowed to purchase and keep a supply of emergency salbutamol inhalers for children suffering from asthma.

The government published new guidance on 27 August after a consultation where the responses (including ASCL’s response) were overwhelmingly supportive of changing the law to allow schools to hold emergency salbutamol inhalers.

These regulations amend the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, and came into effect on 1 October. Schools can now buy inhalers pharmaceutical supplier in small quantities provided it is done on an occasional basis and is not for profit. A supplier will need a request signed by the principal or headteacher (ideally on appropriately headed paper) stating: 

  • the name of the school for which the product is required 
  • the purpose for which that product is required 
  • the total quantity required.
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Careers and education guidance

The National Governors’ Association together with the National Careers Council have published a briefing note entitled: Expand

The National Governors’ Association together with the National Careers Council have published a briefing note entitled: Focus On: Careers education and guidance (http://tinyurl. com/krx4y6x) that provides need-to-know information about careers education and guidance, as well as questions to challenge and drive improvement in your school.

In addition to this, please also see the Careers Engagement: A good practice brief for leaders of schools and colleges (www.ascl.org.uk/goodpractice) published in partnership between National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), ASCL, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the 157 Group of colleges who have come together to support schools and colleges to help young people to take charge of their careers and futures.

The good practice brief highlights the principles of effective careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) in schools and colleges as evidenced and agreed by the four organisations. It provides practical advice on putting CEIAG plans into action, how to engage employers, and offers guidance to schools and colleges in assessing their careers provision in an easy-to-use format, providing a workable approach for this important area.

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Guidance: Reasonable adjustments

Schools and colleges would be unwise to disregard the importance of explicitly considering whether an employee is disabled and whether adjustments can be made; but it is also true that if no reasonable adjustment is possible, then an employer is entitled to dismiss, as the Howorth v North Lancashire Teaching Primary Care NHS Trust UKEAT [2014] case demonstrates. Expand

Schools and colleges would be unwise to disregard the importance of explicitly considering whether an employee is disabled and whether adjustments can be made; but it is also true that if no reasonable adjustment is possible, then an employer is entitled to dismiss, as the Howorth v North Lancashire Teaching Primary Care NHS Trust UKEAT [2014] case demonstrates.

A primary care trust employee was hit by a series of stresses and misfortunes. In December 2006 she was diagnosed with depression and prescribed anti-depressant medication and went on sick leave. What followed, multiplied them.

In July 2008, she attended a clinic appointment and discussed the death of a friend. On the same day, she went to a supermarket and left without paying for her goods, forced her way from the store, and then drove away after having trapped one person who attempted to restrain her with her car door and with a shopper on her car bonnet. She said she had no recollection of any of these incidents. Correspondence from her colleagues shows that they were entirely out of character, and until this series of events she had had an exemplary employment record.

She was taken to court, and, on legal advice, pleaded guilty. Her employer dismissed her. She then applied for a vacancy with the trust and was rejected. The employment appeal tribunal confirmed that the trust was justified in its actions.


Leader contains general guidance on the law. If you have a specific legal issue, we recommend that you seek advice from a qualified legal professional.

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Protection for union activities

It is common knowledge that trade union activity is protected and that there will be a claim against an employer if a person is treated detrimentally because of it. Expand

It is common knowledge that trade union activity is protected and that there will be a claim against an employer if a person is treated detrimentally because of it. But what counts as trade union activity and how far does this protection go? And if someone is dismissed, what proof is required that the employer unfairly dismissed because of union activity?

Protection does not apply just because a person happens to be a trade union representative. It kicks in if the employer dismisses and the ‘sole or main purpose’ is to ‘prevent, deter or penalise’ the activities of the union. Trade union members may take part in activities that include participating in ballots, attending meetings, arranging or participating in gatherings and planning for such activities, as long as these activities take place at an appropriate time, which means in an employee’s own time or in the employer’s time with the employer’s agreement. If they are taking place in work time without the employer’s permission, employers can take disciplinary action.

If an employee brings a case for automatic unfair dismissal, then all s/he has to prove is that the issue is one that is ‘warranting investigation’. It is for the employer to prove that there was an admissible reason for dismissal.

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Redundancies

The downturn in the retail sector has led to many redundancies in well-known chains, so it is perhaps not surprising that the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) recently won £4,000 for each of a number of redundant staff for a failure to consult. Expand

The downturn in the retail sector has led to many redundancies in well-known chains, so it is perhaps not surprising that the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) recently won £4,000 for each of a number of redundant staff for a failure to consult.

The case is a reminder to schools and colleges of the importance of consulting with staff on matters of redundancy. The duty is both a duty to consult representatives and to consult individuals. We are awaiting a ruling on whether an ‘establishment’ is an individual workplace or a whole organisation, but the suggestion is that multi-academy trusts (MATs) may need to issue the Section 188 notice for all their schools and that the consultation period may be the longer period. Schools in such trusts will need to check with the HR function of the trust to be sure that they do not make a costly mistake. ASCL PD offers a course on Managing Staff Reduction that deals with these issues for schools. To find out more or to book a place, see www.ascl.org.uk/staffreductions

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Selfies in the gallery

There has been an interesting discussion in legal circles as to whether there would be a breach of copyright if a person took a ‘selfie’ in front of a picture in a gallery that has been loaned by another owner. Expand

There has been an interesting discussion in legal circles as to whether there would be a breach of copyright if a person took a ‘selfie’ in front of a picture in a gallery that has been loaned by another owner. The freedom of panorama (FOP) provision in the copyright laws does not extend to pictures, although it does extend to sculptures. Could it apply to a child on a school visit? The answer appears to be that it may. However, if a teacher wants to prevent selfies from ruining the experience, it may be a useful threat...

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Impossible Parents

It is interesting to note that schools in the state-funded sector do not have the same legal position as their colleagues in the fee-paying sector in relation to the ‘impossible parent’. Expand

It is interesting to note that schools in the state-funded sector do not have the same legal position as their colleagues in the fee-paying sector in relation to the ‘impossible parent’. An independent school was able to recover fees from parents who had withdrawn their children from the school following a course of conduct by the parents who the judge described as “having lost all sense of objectivity”. Schools in the state-funded sector do not have the option of school contracts, which reserve the right to end a placement ‘when the parent or guardian of that child is guilty of serious or persistent misconduct in relation to a pupil, a member of staff, another parent or to the reputation of the school’.

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Legionella

A firm has been fined for dispensing with the services of the contractor they used to ensure that their cooling tower was free from legionella and then failing to provide a replacement regime that was equally effective. Expand

A firm has been fined for dispensing with the services of the contractor they used to ensure that their cooling tower was free from legionella and then failing to provide a replacement regime that was equally effective. Schools and colleges that have showers and other water facilities that sit unused over long periods need to take note. No one has to get ill for there to be a breach of regulations and a fine.

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Playing the game?

Have you declined any verbs recently? I fear I am showing my age when I say that I used to do it regularly. Expand

Have you declined any verbs recently? I fear I am showing my age when I say that I used to do it regularly. When I attended my excellent comprehensive school in Liverpool in the 1970s Latin was still part of the curriculum and our learning would regularly begin by chanting different verb forms.

I was put in mind of those days when reading the reaction to this summer’s examination results. Like many of us, I always enjoy results day and the chance to catch up with staff and students. This year I found that in conversation with both groups one word seemed to dominate – the meaning of the verb ‘to game’. Both staff and students had heard it used frequently in the build-up to results and had been outraged that their hard work had been dismissed by frequent references to schools ‘gaming the system’.

I must admit that I share their feelings, particularly when I hear the way in which the verb changes its form depending upon who it refers to. Hence “You are gaming the system” turns into “I am committed to raising standards”.

All of which takes us back to my presidential theme of ‘Trust to Transform’. Too often educational progress has been held back by deep-seated mistrust. The conviction that ‘they are up to something, we just don’t know what it is’ too often blights the relationship between those who work in education and those who have a responsibility for overseeing what they do.

The teaching school alliance that I am part of encompasses a wide variety of schools in different contexts. Hence approaches to examinations have varied over the years, some offering students several opportunities to gain a qualification, others making greater use of modules while others find that one final examination is best suited to their students. What unites all alliance members is a desire to do the best for their students by finding a suitable form of assessment that helps them achieve their full potential.

Ironically, of course, those who make policy or who have a regulatory role have exactly the same set of aspirations for students. Hence the energies currently directed towards preventing what is perceived as ‘gaming’ would be much better directed towards achieving this common aim of helping students achieve, regardless of background or context. A lack of trust is preventing us from seeing that, as someone wisely said, “We are all in it together.”


Peter Kent is ASCL President for 2014/15

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