2020 Autumn Term 2

The know zone

  • Children first
    There have been innumerable challenges but could 2020 still turn out to be a transformational year in positive ways, wonders ASCL Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • One Day Isle
    ASCL's new Pensions Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski is on a mission to encourage members to review their pensions. More
  • Lifetime Learning Guarantee
    What is the government's new pledge for lifetime learning? ASCL Post-16 and Colleges Specialist Kevin Gilmartin explores the detail behind the headline announcement. More
  • Checks and balances
    ASCL Business Leadership Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights the learning points for academies from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) assurance findings. More
  • Reconnecting
    How have children and young people settled back into school and college life and how are they coping with socialising in an era of social distancing? Here, ASCL members have their say More
  • Back to the future
    Headteacher Chris Hildrew is an advocate on ASCL Council for rural schools and single academies. Here, he takes us back to the future and shares his passion for teaching, Shakespeare, Taylor Swift and how Michael J. Fox inspired him to take up the guitar... and buy a skateboard. More
  • A different blend
    Students, their characters and their experiences are diverse. We shouldn't blame ourselves if they turn out to be something other than we had hoped or intended. More
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Headteacher Chris Hildrew is an advocate on ASCL Council for rural schools and single academies. Here, he takes us back to the future and shares his passion for teaching, Shakespeare, Taylor Swift and how Michael J. Fox inspired him to take up the guitar... and buy a skateboard.

Back to the future

Tell us about your role and your school 

Im headteacher of Churchill Academy & Sixth Form, a large rural 1118 comprehensive in the foothills of the Mendips in North Somerset. We have just over 1,600 students on roll. Ive been headteacher here since January 2016 and, even though weve completed nine different building projects in that time, I still feel like were only just getting started.

Tell us about your role on ASCL Council

Im on the Teaching and Learning Committee at ASCL Council. I stood for Council for several reasons: I wanted to ensure that the perspectives of rural schools, and single academy trusts, were represented in policymaking decisions; I was also excited by ASCLs equality and diversity initiative, and wanted to advocate for greater representation in policymaking forums.

How do you like to unwind?

I still take solace in books and reading: I can lose myself in a good book and theres really nothing else like it. I also have a little music corner at home with guitars, saxophones, a piano and a collection of odd little electronic instruments to play with. I get out on my bike or in my walking boots whenever I can. But the best way to unwind is to spend time with my wonderful family, who make me laugh out loud every day.

Tell us an interesting fact about you

I have two portraits in my office: one of William Shakespeare, and one of Taylor Swift. Its nice to know theyre always there watching over me. 

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

My favourite book is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath I still think her ability to infuse language with all the electricity of human emotion is unparalleled. 

I think Back to the Future is the perfect film I bought a skateboard and took up the guitar as soon as I saw it in 1985. I never mastered the skateboard, and Im still working on the DeLorean, but I kept up with the guitar.

What advice would you give to someone new to leadership?

It has never been a tougher time to be a school leader than right now, but it has also never mattered more. The students, their families and your staff need you. Spend as much time as you can with them to remind yourself why you do what you do, and why its all worth it.


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.

LEADING READING