June 2018

NEWS AND GUIDANCE

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News and guidance

Notes on guidance

Leader contains general guidance on the law that has been supplied by our Premier Partner for legal and HR services, Browne Jacobson LLP. Expand

Leader contains general guidance on the law that has been supplied by our Premier Partner for legal and HR services, Browne Jacobson LLP. If you have a specific legal issue relating to your role as an employer, we recommend that you seek advice from a qualified legal professional. Members can also call the ASCL Hotline on 0116 299 1122 with respect to legal issues relating specifically to their own employment.

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Parental leave

In the recent case of Capita v Ali, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ( Expand

In the recent case of Capita v Ali, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that the purpose of maternity leave is to protect the health and wellbeing of a woman during pregnancy and following childbirth. Accordingly, enhanced maternity pay is protected under the Equality Act as special treatment afforded to a woman in connection with pregnancy or childbirth – and therefore cannot be compared against Shared Parental Leave where the main purpose is childcare. This decision overturns the original tribunal decision that decided that after the first two weeks, the main purpose of maternity leave is childcare, and can therefore be directly compared to shared parental leave.

The consequence of the EAT decision is that there is no direct sex discrimination when women on maternity leave are paid at a higher rate than men on shared parental leave. There is a clear difference between the two types of pay, and therefore they cannot be comparable.

This case offers support to any academies who choose to offer a higher rate of maternity pay than shared parental leave pay. However, it is important to appreciate that this latest case only considered the question of direct sex discrimination and there is still the possibility that different pay rates could be regarded as indirect sex discrimination (which would require justification).

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Make sure that we can keep you up to date

The introduction of General Data Protection Regulations ( Expand

The introduction of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) means that from 25 May, we need your explicit consent to send you some of the information you currently receive from us.

As part of your membership, ASCL and ASCL Professional Development would like to continue to keep you up to date with information about school leadership, CPD for you and your team and other relevant initiatives. In order to do this, we need your permission. If you have not told us recently what types of information you would like to receive from us, please take a couple of minutes now to update your preferences. You can do this online at www.ascl.org.uk/UpdatePreferences and logging into your ASCL account.

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Appointing trust members

Academy trusts should be aware of recent developments around the policy concerning the appointment of members of academy trusts. Expand

Academy trusts should be aware of recent developments around the policy concerning the appointment of members of academy trusts.

The role of a member within an academy trust has traditionally been difficult to define and this has sometimes led to confusion. Members can be seen as the custodians of the governance of the academy trust. They have a hands-off role and act as a check and balance on the performance of the trustees.

Traditionally, academy trusts had a free hand in appointing members and they often overlapped with the governing body/board of trustees. Many headteachers/executive heads were appointed as members (and indeed some still remain as members).

However, in order to introduce more effective oversight and divisions of responsibilities, the DfE and regional schools commissioners (RSCs) have introduced much more rigour to the appointment of members, including:

  • There should be a least three and ideally five members.
  • Members can no longer be employees of the academy trust.
  • Academy trusts need to demonstrate an appropriate level of skills and experience in appointees.
  • To ensure that there is effective oversight, there is a strong preference that there is very limited (and in some cases, no) crossover in appointments of trustees and members.

While, from a good governance perspective, the above developments are welcome, finding willing individuals to be members can be difficult. We would suggest that policy-makers should therefore be mindful of these difficulties when considering any further changes around member appointments.

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Personal relationships

The case of Reilly v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in the Supreme Court concluded on 14 March 2018. Expand

The case of Reilly v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in the Supreme Court concluded on 14 March 2018.

Reilly was a headteacher at a primary school, until she was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct for failing to disclose her relationship with a person convicted of committing a serious criminal offence (making indecent images of children). Following her dismissal, Reilly brought proceedings in the Employment Tribunal (ET) for unfair dismissal.

The ET held that the initial decision to summarily dismiss was in principle fair and that the dismissal had been in the range of reasonable responses. Reilly appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, however, her appeals were dismissed. She therefore subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court (https://tinyurl.com/y7gyg5ou).

Reilly’s appeal to the Supreme Court rested primarily upon whether the ET was correct in accepting that she was under a duty to disclose her relationship with the individual. She accepted that she was under a contractual duty to assist the governing body in respect of its safeguarding responsibilities, however, she argued that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that her particular relationship with the individual was enough of a safeguarding concern that it should have been raised with governors. The Supreme Court decided otherwise and dismissed her appeal.

This decision may be unsurprising given the fact that the partner’s conviction was for a child-related offence. The very basis of his sentence was that he represented a danger to children and it would, therefore, follow that his relationship with a headteacher would in turn pose a potential threat to the pupils. This case strengthens the employer’s hand when dealing with safeguarding concerns posed by associates of their employees.

In this particular case, Reilly’s position as a headteacher was of great significance as it meant she was likely to know more information about the pupils than any other staff member and was able to authorise visitors to freely enter the school premises. Whether such a duty would be imposed on less senior members of staff is unclear, however, in light of this decision we would recommend that schools make staff aware that there may be a duty to disclose all issues, whether personal or professional, which may give rise to safeguarding concerns.

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8 questions to answer before you retire

Making good financial decisions now can enable you to enjoy retirement without money worries. Expand

Making good financial decisions now can enable you to enjoy retirement without money worries. Here are some of the questions you need to consider:

  1. When will you be eligible for your state pension and how much you will get?
  2. How much can you expect to receive from your Teachers’ or Local Government pension scheme and any additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) you have made?
  3. Do you have pensions from previous employers? If so, how much income could they provide?
  4. How much income will you need to maintain your lifestyle? You will then know if your pension will give you enough income.
  5. Could inflation affect your income in later life? If so, how could you counter it?
  6. Will you automatically receive a tax-free lump sum? If not, should you opt to take one?
  7. Pension income is taxable. How much, if any, tax will you have to pay?
  8. Do you need more income? If so, do you have savings that could generate the additional income? If not, are there other options?

Find out about the seminars Lighthouse Financial Advice runs to help ASCL members secure their finances in retirement www.lighthousegroup.plc.uk/affinity/ascl-events

To book a complimentary, no obligation appointment with one of its professional financial advisers call 08000 85 85 90 or email appointments@lighthousefa.co.uk.

This article does not constitute financial advice. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice that does not contain an investment element. Lighthouse Financial Advice Limited is an appointed representative of Lighthouse Advisory Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Lighthouse Financial Advice Limited and Lighthouse Advisory Services Limited are wholly owned subsidiaries of Lighthouse Group plc. Registered in England No. 04795080. Registered Office: 26 Throgmorton Street, London, EC2N 2AN. 2018-03-40 18.0958 exp 16/9/18.

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Termination payments

The government has embarked on a series of reforms to the tax and national insurance contributions ( Expand

The government has embarked on a series of reforms to the tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) treatment of termination payments. The most significant change, which came into force from 6 April 2018, is in relation to the tax treatment of notice pay including payments in lieu of notice (PILONs). The new rules are fairly complex and introduce some new employment tax acronyms, PENP (post-employment notice pay) and RTA (relevant termination awards). The main driver behind the changes appears to be ensuring that the basic pay an employee would have earned, had the employee worked his or her notice in full, is taxed as earnings.

Below is a brief overview of the change, although we are still waiting for HMRC to publish substantive guidance, which will help employers and practitioners to get to grips with the new rules in practice.

Under the current regime, to work out the amount of a PILON that is taxable as earnings, an employer would, among other things, need to identify whether the PILON is contractual or non-contractual (that is, is it in the employment contract). Broadly speaking, if a PILON is contractual (or if the termination payment would be treated by HMRC as an ‘auto-PILON’), it is fully taxable, and, if it is non-contractual, it may benefit from the £30,000 tax-free threshold.

Under the new regime, to work out the amount of a termination payment that is taxable as earnings, an employer needs to identify the post-employment notice pay (the PENP) and the relevant termination award (the RTA).

The new legislation sets out in detail how to calculate these figures (and should be checked in any particular matter you’re dealing with), but, broadly, the RTA is the actual payment received in connection with the termination of a person’s employment, excluding most redundancy payments. The PENP is calculated by reference to the following formula: ((BP x D) / P) – T.

Where:

  • BP = ‘basic pay’
  • D = number of days in the ‘post-employment notice period’
  • P = number of days in the ‘pay period’
  • T = certain payments that are paid on termination but are already taxable as earnings

The words in quotation marks are all defined in the legislation and would therefore require further checking and/ or advice in the context of any particular matter as to what needs to be considered to reach a figure for these.

When you have your two figures for your PENP and your RTA, you should then compare these two figures and, if the PENP is equal to or greater than the RTA, the entire RTA will be taxable. If the PENP is less than the RTA, the amount of the PENP is treated as taxable earnings, with the surplus (to the extent still available) potentially benefiting from the £30,000 tax-free exemption. If and to the extent that these PENP or RTA amounts are subject to income tax, they will also be subject to Class 1 NICs.

These changes may be said to help in more clearly identifying what is taxable and what is not in relation to PILONs, however, a criticism lies in its complexity. At this stage we are still waiting for HMRC guidance on how these calculations should be applied in practice, and hope that as part of that guidance they will also provide us with some worked examples that we will share with you in due course.

In the interim, we suggest you speak to your HR advisers when considering a settlement agreement for any of your employees, so that they can identify whether any specific tax advice will be required. If necessary, they will then be able to refer you to a tax specialist to assist with any calculations that may be required.

If you are already in discussions with employees about possible settlements that you think may be affected by these new changes, you should make it clear that there may be additional tax considerations, and that any figures offered are inclusive of any tax that may become due.

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Funding inquiry

Commenting on the announcement that the House of Commons Education Committee is launching an inquiry into the level of school and college funding, ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said, “We welcome the Education Committee’s inquiry into the level of funding for schools and colleges which comes at a time of severe financial pressures caused by government underinvestment in education. Expand

Commenting on the announcement that the House of Commons Education Committee is launching an inquiry into the level of school and college funding, ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said, “We welcome the Education Committee’s inquiry into the level of funding for schools and colleges which comes at a time of severe financial pressures caused by government underinvestment in education. The funding crisis is putting hard-won education standards at risk and damaging social mobility. Our young people deserve better.

“The comments made by the chair of the Education Committee are a breath of fresh air. We entirely agree that a longer term plan is needed for investment in education and have long been calling for such an approach. It cannot come soon enough.”

Read more about ASCL’s campaign for more funding for education here.

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NFER teacher retention report

Commenting on the National Foundation for Educational Research ( Expand

Commenting on the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) report comparing the working hours, earnings and job satisfaction of teachers with nurses and police officers, ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said:

“This research provides further evidence that many teachers are overloaded and underpaid. It shows that a large proportion are unhappy with the amount of leisure time left to them and that their average hourly pay has plummeted in real terms since 2010. Unsurprisingly, we are failing to attract enough teachers into the profession and then losing too many early in their careers.

“Teaching has always been a demanding job, but relentless government reforms, underfunding and ever increasing expectations on schools have driven up workload to an intolerable degree. The government – alongside Ofsted and ASCL – has committed to reducing that burden and we must now turn those words into reality. Ministers must also commit to fully funding a decent pay rise for teachers.”

Read more about the findings of this report in the NFER article here.

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'Failure to educate'

Education institutions across the country will have collectively breathed a sigh of relief following the dismissal of a £1 million ‘failure to educate’ claim brought against the University of Oxford by a former student, Mr Faiz Siddiqui. Expand

Education institutions across the country will have collectively breathed a sigh of relief following the dismissal of a £1 million ‘failure to educate’ claim brought against the University of Oxford by a former student, Mr Faiz Siddiqui.

Mr Siddiqui studied for a BA in Modern History at Brasenose College around the turn of the new millennium. During his final year, he performed poorly in a module on 20th century India because of “negligently inadequate teaching”, which he claims resulted in him achieving a low Upper Second degree classification rather than a high Upper Second or a First. Mr Siddiqui pointed to staff shortages and unusually poor results across the board as evidence that the teaching of the module had been sub-par. He blamed his results for his failed applications to study law in the USA, and for the mental health problems that have since dogged his career.

Mr Justice Foskett rejected the claim in its entirety. The judge acknowledged the dangers of imposing a “gold standard” on teachers when the standard required to avoid a negligence claim is merely reasonable competency. In this case, there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that the teaching had been negligent. The claim therefore fell on ‘breach of duty’.

Perhaps sensing a potential appeal, the judge also concluded that the claim failed in any event on causation. Mr Siddiqui had not established that his results were impacted by the quality of teaching; for instance he performed well in a mock examination. The judge also pointed towards admission test scores as one reason other than his degree classification for the failed applications to US colleges. Finally, the judge held that Mr Siddiqui’s mental health issues were pre-existing and partly stemmed from Mr Siddiqui’s perceived failure in his A levels.

The long standing saga, now spanning over 18 years, is not over yet. It is widely expected that Mr Siddiqui will apply for permission for appeal, so watch this space.

Education institutions can take comfort in the judge’s comments that it is difficult to see how causation could be established unless the teaching constituted “simple operational negligence”. This is a high threshold for claimants to meet and the fear that this case could open the floodgates has been abated. However, institutions should be aware of the incredibly high cost involved in simply meeting these claims, even if they are ultimately defended.

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Changes to inspection windows

Ofsted has announced important changes to inspection windows, which take place with immediate effect: Expand

Ofsted has announced important changes to inspection windows, which take place with immediate effect:

  • Short inspections for good schools will now usually take place up to four years from the previous inspection (was three years previously).
  • The window for schools judged requires improvement and academies judged inadequate (but not re-brokered) to receive their Section 5 re-inspection has been extended to 30 months.
  • Please note that these timings are at the discretion of Ofsted’s regional director, so these timings are a guide. Also, don’t forget that schools can request an earlier inspection, which will also be considered at the discretion of the regional director.

For more on this, please see the blog by Ofsted’s National Director for Education, Sean Harford https://tinyurl.com/ycypzxrg

Ofsted: 101 ideas to help you manage inspection

Schools should not have to spend lots of time preparing for inspection, but there are some things leaders can do to manage the process effectively and support the wellbeing of pupils, staff, leaders and governors. In our guide, ASCL’s Inspection and Accountability Specialist Stephen Rollett shares his top tips to help you through the visit and beyond. If you have not done so already, please download the guide here: www.ascl.org.uk/Ofsted101ideas

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ASCL Vice President 2018/19

We are pleased to announce that Rachael Warwick has been elected as Vice President for 2018/19. Expand

We are pleased to announce that Rachael Warwick has been elected as Vice President for 2018/19. Rachael is Executive Headteacher of Ridgeway Education Trust in Didcot, Oxfordshire and she is also a National Leader of Education (NLE). She joined ASCL Council in September 2016 and has chaired the Research and International Committee this year, and served as a member of ASCL Executive.

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Technical and vocational qualifications list

The list of technical and vocational qualifications for teaching from September 2018 and reporting in 2020 performance tables has been published by the DfE. Expand

The list of technical and vocational qualifications for teaching from September 2018 and reporting in 2020 performance tables has been published by the DfE. See the list online https://tinyurl.com/y9oaf4pc

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Curriculum and assessment: 101 ideas to support planning

ASCL’s Curriculum and Assessment Specialist Suzanne O’Farrell has prepared a new guide, designed to assist school leaders and those involved in planning the curriculum for Key Stages 3 and 4. Expand

ASCL’s Curriculum and Assessment Specialist Suzanne O’Farrell has prepared a new guide, designed to assist school leaders and those involved in planning the curriculum for Key Stages 3 and 4. The guide can be downloaded and shared here: http://bit.ly/Curriculum101Ideas

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Northern Ireland FAQs

To assist members in Northern Ireland, ASCL Member Support and our Northern Ireland solicitors O’Reilly Stewart have published a series of FAQs and responses that are now available on the website, and that cover common issues experienced in schools and colleges in the region – download them here: Expand

To assist members in Northern Ireland, ASCL Member Support and our Northern Ireland solicitors O’Reilly Stewart have published a series of FAQs and responses that are now available on the website, and that cover common issues experienced in schools and colleges in the region – download them here: www.ascl.org.uk/NIrelandFAQs

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In the news

ASCL has been quoted widely in the media over the recent period on a range of issues. Expand

ASCL has been quoted widely in the media over the recent period on a range of issues.

ASCL has kept up the pressure over the school and college funding crisis. General Secretary Geoff Barton welcomed the House of Commons Education Committee’s announcement that it was launching an inquiry into school and college funding, saying: “The funding crisis is putting hard-won education standards at risk and damaging social mobility. Our young people deserve better.” He was quoted in The Guardian and FE Week.

He also commented on a report by the Education Policy Institute about school funding pressures, saying it showed that “many schools are so cash-strapped they are unable to afford even a meagre pay rise of 1% for their staff next year without having to make further cuts.” He was quoted in The Guardian, BBC News, The Independent and several local newspaper websites. Deputy General Secretary Malcolm Trobe was interviewed on the BBC News Channel, and on the Channel 5 Evening News.

ASCL also published the results of a survey about Ofsted inspections and the inspectorate’s myth-busting guidance. It showed that schools are being asked to provide evidence that inspectors are not supposed to request and that add to workload pressures. Please read the press release here.

It was also reported in an article on the TES website.

Many thanks to everybody who took part in this survey.

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Renewal of partnership

We are pleased that Capita SIMS has renewed its partnership with ASCL as part of an ongoing effort to support schools, build stronger relationships and gain greater understanding of the challenges faced by school leaders. Expand

We are pleased that Capita SIMS has renewed its partnership with ASCL as part of an ongoing effort to support schools, build stronger relationships and gain greater understanding of the challenges faced by school leaders.

With the requirements placed upon school leaders continuing to grow, Capita’s interactions with senior staff indicate that there are plenty of opportunities to enhance schools’ use of SIMS to help deliver school management efficiency, improve student outcomes and meet increasing accountability requirements.

For bespoke advice on maximising your school’s use of SIMS, including expert support on assessment tracking, reducing workload and driving targeted interventions, ASCL members can benefit from the renewed relationship between ASCL and Capita SIMS. As part of ASCL’s partnership with Capita, members can enjoy a 10% discount on out-ofschool training courses, designed to give school leaders greater insight into the power of SIMS.

For further information on making the most of SIMS or for details of the offers available to ASCL members, visit www.capita-sims.co.uk/training or call 0800 170 1724.

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New Premier Partner

We are pleased to announce that PKF Cooper Parry accountants is now a new ASCL Premier Partner. Expand

We are pleased to announce that PKF Cooper Parry accountants is now a new ASCL Premier Partner. The firm has a dedicated not-for-profit team focused on adding value to the education sector and supporting the excellent work of clients.

It acts for MATs, academies, independent schools and other educational bodies. As part of the PKF UK network, it audits and advises more than 100 schools and MATs.

It is the largest independent firm of accountants and business advisers in the Midlands, and the fastest growing firm of accountants in the UK. Its team of 420 people and 35 partners offer a high-quality service, with a depth of resource, delivered in a highly personal manner.

Services include:

  • Assurance – the statutory audit of annual financial statements together with audits required under grant funding arrangements
  • Extended audit and internal audit services
  • Public accountability – assistance in drafting the annual report and accounts
  • Governance – assessing the effectiveness of board structures and assistance in putting in place best practice procedures
  • Taxation advice – maximising the benefits and minimising the costs of the direct tax and indirect tax (VAT) regimes

To find out more, please contact Simon Atkins, Partner and Head of Not for Profit, and Chairman of a 15-school MAT at simona@pkfcooperparry.com or visit www.pkfcooperparry.com

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Do we have your correct details?

Please get in touch with the Membership Team if there are any changes to your contact details or if you have changed your role. Expand

Please get in touch with the Membership Team if there are any changes to your contact details or if you have changed your role. You can email them at membership@ascl.org.uk

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Inconsistency in school inspections

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton is calling for greater consistency in Ofsted inspections after a survey revealed that schools are being asked to provide evidence that inspectors are not supposed to request, and that adds to workload pressures. Expand

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton is calling for greater consistency in Ofsted inspections after a survey revealed that schools are being asked to provide evidence that inspectors are not supposed to request, and that adds to workload pressures.

In a recently launched government video, Working Together on Workload (https://tinyurl.com/y8nu9l44), Ofsted’s National Director of Education, Sean Harford, lists a number of ‘myths’ about what inspectors want to see when they visit schools.

ASCL conducted a survey of members that showed that in a number of the areas listed, inspections are largely consistent, and schools are not for the most part being asked for evidence that inspectors are not supposed to request.

Nearly all respondents (98%) said they were not asked for individual lesson plans, 99% said inspectors had not specified how lesson planning should be set out and 94% said they were not asked for written records of oral feedback given to students.

But our survey of 476 headteachers, deputy heads and assistant heads of English secondary schools inspected since the beginning of 2016, also made the following findings:

  • Ofsted says that inspectors don’t require schools to predict the attainment of their pupils or their progress score, but 62% of respondents said their school was asked to predict pupil attainment, and 47% said they were asked for predicted progress scores.
  • Ofsted says it does not require extensive tracking of how pupils are doing, but 45% of respondents said their school was asked to provide this information.
  • Ofsted says its inspectors do not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books, but 34% of respondents said inspectors had asked to see this type of evidence.

However, there are signs that the situation is improving in the first two of these areas, with about 8% fewer respondents reporting such requests in 2017 and 2018, compared to 2016, while the proportion in the third area was broadly similar.

Commenting on the findings, Geoff Barton said, “We have to reduce unsustainable and onerous levels of workload in schools because of the impact this burden has on the welfare of staff and on teacher recruitment and retention.

“It seems as if Ofsted is making progress in ensuring that its inspection teams do not make requests for evidence in line with its own myth-busting guidance.

“But in certain key areas, there is clearly some way to go if Ofsted is to show the level of consistency that it would rightly expect from school leaders.

“It is essential inspections are consistent and that no school is asked to provide evidence which generates unnecessary workload.

“We support Ofsted’s work in dispelling the myths about what it expects to see, but we have to make sure that this is reflected in practice on the ground.

“We have fed back the results of this survey to Ofsted to assist in that process.”

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Membership and Finance

Our Membership and Finance Teams both have important roles in ensuring the smooth running of the Association. Expand

Our Membership and Finance Teams both have important roles in ensuring the smooth running of the Association. They look after your membership information and process all financial transactions.

Director of Finance and Operations Steve Kind is responsible for overseeing the teams. Having joined the Association in 2013, Steve has a wealth of experience in finance, property and operational matters, and has spent much of his career, since qualifying as an accountant, working in professional sport and for two large further education (FE) colleges. Steve is passionate about all Leicester-based professional sporting teams, and has been fortunate to meet with many sporting icons and he has played (a long time ago) on a number of professional football grounds. 

Finance

Our Finance Team is led by Finance Manager Sunita Pattni who has worked for the Association since 2002. Sunita is responsible for the day-to-day running of both ASCL and ASCL Professional Development Ltd. Sunita manages the payroll and management accounts, and, at times, she works on major project work for the Association. In her spare time, Sunita enjoys cooking and watching Bollywood movies.

Kim Maisey has worked at ASCL as a Finance Assistant for more than ten years. Kim’s main duties include checking all the expense claim forms, processing sales invoices, banking and reconciliation. In her spare time, Kim enjoys a game of golf – weather permitting.

Finance Assistant Rita Hindocha joined the Association in 2014. Rita’s main duties include processing purchase invoices, chasing up outstanding debts (not always the easiest part of the job) and reconciling credit card statements. In her spare time, she enjoys helping out at the temple and going to the gym.

Membership

Central to the operations of the Association is the Membership Team, dealing with new member applications, updates to existing members’ details and subscription payments. It is highly likely that you will have spoken to or exchanged emails at some time during your membership with one of the team.

The team is led by Membership Manager Ruth Trobe who has worked in the department since it moved from London to Leicester in 1988. Ruth ensures the smooth running of the office, including keeping an accurate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. She ensures that the data on our CRM is as accurate as possible and manages the ongoing development of the system.

Senior Membership Advisor Katie Swanson joined the team in 2014. Katie supports Ruth in her role and responds to members’ enquiries, including updating their details on our system, and dealing with subscriptions.

Membership Advisor Charlotte Whittaker has worked in the Membership Team since 2004. If you have joined ASCL since then, Charlotte will have been involved in ensuring that you receive your confirmation of membership and that your details are all recorded accurately on the CRM.

Chocolate fix
The Membership Team is partial to chocolate m&m’s and has a large collection of chocolate dispensers in the office. If you ever come to ASCL headquarters, be sure to ask for some!

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ASCL influence

As ever, the ASCL Policy Team has been engaging with policymakers and stakeholders over the last few months, to bring members’ concerns to their attention and work with them on policy proposals. Expand

As ever, the ASCL Policy Team has been engaging with policymakers and stakeholders over the last few months, to bring members’ concerns to their attention and work with them on policy proposals. Key areas of focus have included the following:

Funding

We continue to work with the DfE and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to develop the National Funding Formula (NFF). The priority at the moment is building an evidence base ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review (expected to take place in spring 2019), which the DfE can use to support its representations to the Treasury for sufficient funding to complete the full roll-out of the NFF.

We are working with the ESFA on ensuring that the new School Efficiency Advisers (SEAs) are effective and provide quality support to schools.

We are also working to raise the profile of private finance initiative (PFI) issues and the challenge of securing value for money for schools in PFI contracts. We are in the process of setting up a national reference group that will include representation from the sector and the ESFA.

Finally, we secured a significant policy change on the new advanced maths premium. This new funding is for additional students studying specified Level 3 maths qualifications. The original proposal was that the premium would be calculated on last September’s number of students who took maths. However, after ASCL highlighted that this unfairly penalised those institutions that worked hard to increase their numbers last year, the DfE has changed its policy. The baseline on which increases in Level 3 maths take-up will now be calculated, will be the average of the number of students per school or college studying an eligible Level 3 maths qualification in academic years 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Teacher recruitment and retention

We are continuing to raise with the DfE the importance of developing a single portal for teacher recruitment as a way of reducing costs to schools. A pilot of the DfE scheme is due to be launched later this year.

ASCL is discussing with the DfE what actions can be taken to reduce the costs charged by recruitment agencies, particularly related to ‘finders’ fees’. We are also pressing the DfE to take action to address the issue of recruitment agencies ‘tying in’ trainee teachers with ‘sweeteners’ so that the agencies can charge a fee to schools when they find the trainee a job.

Working with other unions, ASCL has now gained significant traction with the DfE to work more collaboratively in determining an overall strategy for both the recruitment and retention of teachers. One of the key strands of this is to investigate flexible working practices.

Curriculum and assessment

The recent publication of Ofqual’s corporate plan underlines its commitment to revisit inter-subject comparability. This is a direct result of our discussions with Ofqual (on behalf of the modern language community). Ofqual has agreed to collect evidence to review the severe grading of GCSE modern languages compared to other subjects.

We have also submitted a response to Ofqual’s consultation on teacher involvement in the development of confidential assessment materials, urging Ofqual and awarding organisations to take all reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of assessment materials and continually review the safeguards used.

ASCL’s (conditional) support for the introduction of a new baseline assessment for children starting primary school was recognised in the government’s recent announcement of its preferred supplier for this assessment. We will continue to work with the DfE to help shape this assessment and ensure it is fit for purpose.

Accountability and inspection

We have been following up on the recommendations in our recently published report, Sense and Accountability: Holding our primary schools to account for what matters most, (www.ascl.org.uk/primaryaccountability). In particular, we have held some very positive conversations with Ofsted about how its new inspection framework may take more account of aspects of performance beyond a school’s results in English and maths.

We also responded to Ofsted’s recent consultation on changes to statistical reporting of inspection outcomes for maintained schools and academies.

We have secured a significant change to both Progress 8 and the primary progress measure, leading to the introduction of adjusted scores for pupils with very low attainment.

Pupil wellbeing

We are working with a wide range of other organisations to influence policies related to pupil wellbeing, including on social media, children’s mental health, period poverty and asbestos management.

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LEADING READING