2020 Autumn Term 1

The know zone

  • Time for re-assessment
    The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many inequalities within the education system, further underlining the need for real change when it comes to primary evaluation, says Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • Parent planning
    Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell explains maternity leave and other entitlements for parents-to-be working in the education sector. More
  • Contextualised offers
    Should more universities be giving disadvantaged students a lower offer? Kevin Gilmartin examines the inconsistent and complicated world of contextualised offers. More
  • Project restart
    Business Leadership Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights some of the key changes to reporting for academies and trusts, including resumption of data collections and greater transparency on executive pay. More
  • Words of wisdom
    We asked members to share a top tip for someone starting a new headship role this September and share a book recommendation that may help anyone new to the role. Here's what you said... More
  • A vote of confidence
    Assistant Head Rich Atterton says being on ASCL Council has enabled him to experience first-hand the Association's ability to shape and influence national education policy and debate. Here he shares his love for Council, teaching, escape rooms and... ballot paper. More
  • #TGIF
    The lack of discipline, general sense of ennui, the dreadful weather... and the fact that the weekend still seems an age away. Tell me why I don't like Thursday, asks Carl Smith. More
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Assistant Head Rich Atterton says being on ASCL Council has enabled him to experience first-hand the Associationís ability to shape and influence national education policy and debate. Here he shares his love for Council, teaching, escape rooms andÖ ballot paper.

A vote of confidence

Tell us about your role at school

Iím an Assistant Head with responsibility for post-16 at The Marlborough Science Academy in Hertfordshire. In addition to my management role, I also teach politics.

Tell us about your role on ASCL Council

I became interested in ASCL after Geoff Barton was elected as General Secretary in 2017 and decided to stand for Council the following year. At my first meeting, I found myself among a group of super-smart, highly committed individuals from incredibly diverse schools and colleges.

On the Funding Committee, I have witnessed first-hand the high level of engagement ASCL has had in shaping the national funding debate, in particular with ASCLís The True Cost of Education report (www.ascl.org.uk/truecost). Properly funding schools and colleges has been critical to everything we do and the Funding Committee has been instrumental in holding government to account.

Being able to represent ASCL at the DfE and in Westminster was a great honour and working with the ASCL Executive this year, I saw the extraordinary amount of work that has been happening behind the scenes to support school and college leaders during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If anyone had any doubts about the importance of belonging to a professional association and trade union such as ASCL, I am confident the last few months has set that right.

Why did you decide to get into teaching/leadership?

Teaching wasnít Plan A for me, but while not the first choice, it was the last and the right choice. Iíve now been at my school for 17 years and a leader for the last six years.

Being an Assistant Head, for me, strikes the right balance. I love teaching politics and I love leading the sixth form. Helping post-16 students move on to the next stage of their life is both an awesome responsibility and an incredible joy.

How do you like to unwind?

I play and blog about escape rooms. Thereís nothing better than paying to be locked in a room with puzzles and hidden passages with only an hour to escape. My most unusual hobby, which I donít believe there is a name for, is collecting ballot paper. I have ballots from all over the world, some nearly 150 years old.

Last year, I managed to get hold of one of the controversial Florida voting machines from the disputed 2000 presidential election. Printing plates from the 1896 election of William McKinley have pride of place in my collection.

Tell us an interesting fact about you

I started to learn to drive two years ago but really struggled and hated most lessons. I actually felt relief when my instructor cancelled on me. After I failed my first test, I decided that was it, I was done. But, of course, I wasnít, and while I did eventually pass, the empathy I gained for students was invaluable. It reconnected me with how some students feel every day and the difference we can make to them by motivating them to never give up.

Whatís your favourite book and your favourite film of all time?

I really enjoy political diaries but for a long train journey an early John Grisham book like A Time to Kill does the trick. As for films itís a three-way tie between Tootsie, The Shawshank Redemption and Up in the World. The latter, while no award winner, helps me to feel connected to my mum who passed away a long time ago.

What advice would you give to someone new to leadership?

Donít try to be perfect but always try to be authentic.


ASCL Council

For more details on how you can become a Council member, please email ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch at Julie.mcculloch@ascl.org.uk

We are particularly keen to encourage people from currently under-represented groups including women and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, to put themselves forward. 


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