2020 Summer Term

The know zone

  • Care-takers
    Cait Cooper from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families highlights four ways school and college leaders can support staff wellbeing. More
  • Primary focus
    Throughout the lockdown period, ASCL's engagement with civil servants at the DfE and with other stakeholders has continued. Tiffnie Harris provides an update on some of the key issues affecting the primary education sector. More
  • Lessons learned
    Hayley Dunn highlights the lessons learned from implementing emergency plans in response to the current health crisis. More
  • September's Sixth Form
    As schools and colleges plan for their new cohort of sixth form students in September, Kevin Gilmartin examines the key areas that will impact on provision. In a time of such uncertainty, what should schools and colleges prepare for? More
  • A helping hand for further education
    Anne Murdoch highlights a new ASCL and AoC mentoring scheme to help develop personal resilience among college leaders and to empower them when faced with difficult circumstances. More
  • Weather the storm
    Before schools began to open more widely, we asked members to share their experience of the health crisis and here's what they had to say. More
  • Hitting the right note
    Principal Andrew Parkin joined ASCL Council five years ago and is a member of the Funding Committee. Here he tells us about his dedication to education and his love for music and singing. More
  • Rites of passage
    Seasons, traditions and rituals are important markers in our development as humans, but the lockdown means that - for some of our young people - the rhythms of life will skip a beat. More
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Anne Murdoch highlights a new ASCL and AoC mentoring scheme to help develop personal resilience among college leaders and to empower them when faced with difficult circumstances.

A helping hand for further education

The further education (FE) sector has experienced a great deal of turmoil in recent years and for some FE leaders, formal intervention (see https://tinyurl.com/y2ssgnrd) has meant the end of their careers. For this reason, ASCL is working with the Association of Colleges (AoC) to develop a self-supporting mentoring scheme for college leaders. This article summarises the scheme so far and invites readers to help further develop the concept.

The impact of Area Reviews

and of poor and short-term funding for the FE sector during the last decade has left some college principals and senior leaders battered and bruised (see https://tinyurl.com/y7xoxwo9). The pressures of accountability; high-profile media attention when things go wrong; of poor governance in some cases; and of the impact of FE Commissioner intervention and the insolvency regime, has meant that the ‘job at the top’ is more stressful than ever. Added to this, competition in the FE marketplace alongside government policy changes and the introduction of major curriculum changes at Level 3, has meant that collaboration between colleges has not always been as strong as it could be.

Relieving the pressure

To help colleagues experiencing any of these types of pressures, ASCL and the AoC are working together to develop a new mentoring scheme to help build personal resilience among FE leaders and to empower those in difficulty, by using other experienced FE leaders for support.

The new mentoring scheme will be up and running in autumn. It will initially be available to college principals, and then other FE leaders at a later stage, as it works through its first phase of development. Members will be advised when it is available on the ASCL website. The scheme will be run by volunteers – all experienced principals working in the FE sector – who will each provide a short profile that will be available online for individuals seeking support, to view and make contact.

The scheme will provide a safe, supportive and confidential service in which FE leaders can open up about any problems they are facing, especially when, understandably, they cannot do so among their own colleagues or governors. There will be no formal records kept of support offered or taken. There is a developing set of rules about how much support can be expected and guidance will be given about how to make contact, as well as how mentors will signpost to other agencies, if required. There will be no liability on either part for the support given or received. To date, more than 20 experienced leaders have offered to support the scheme by becoming mentors.

Providing support and empathy

The mentoring scheme isn’t meant to replace formal, established coaching and mentoring programmes or be available only to those new in post. Experienced leaders can and should make use of the support if they wish.

We hope that the new scheme will go some way to help the FE sector, which has experienced so much scrutiny and uncertainty in recent times, to have the support and empathy it deserves.

Have your say:

We will use feedback from ASCL members to help develop the new mentoring scheme and to review and improve any support we offer. Please have your say by emailing: anne.murdoch@ascl.org.uk

Could you be a mentor?

If you are an experienced FE leader and you would like to volunteer to become a mentor, please get in touch by emailing: anne.murdoch@ascl.org.uk

Dr Anne Murdoch OBE
ASCL Senior Advisor, College Leadership