2022 Summer Term


  • Follow the sun
    Geoff Barton contemplates the finishing line in what has been another extraordinary year for school, college and trust leaders. More
  • Inclusive Education
    Will the government's new special educational needs and disability (SEND) green paper address the illusion of inclusion? ASCL Specialist Margaret Mulholland investigates. More
  • Be at the Heart
    Deputy Headteacher Gurpall Badesha says joining ASCL Council is one of the best things she has have ever done and it's made her a better leader, thinker and professional. More
  • A Friend in Need
    A crippling condition forced Kate Dixon to give up her vocation, but ASCL Benevolent Fund provided help in the darkest of times, she tells Julie Nightingale. More
  • Keeping Young People Safe
    Former headteacher Tom Goodenough highlights the work of Violence Reduction Units and how, with the support of schools and colleges, they are protecting young people from a life of crime. More
  • People First Development
    Placing people development at the heart of appraisals not only benefits teachers, it can also have a positive effect on pupil achievement. Denise Inwood from BlueSky Education explains how and why. More
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Deputy Headteacher Gurpall Badesha says joining ASCL Council is one of the best things she has have ever done and it's made her a better leader, thinker and professional.

Be at the Heart

Since 2019, Iíve had the honour of being a representative for the South East region on ASCL Council (www.ascl.org.uk/Council). As well as being a fantastic professional development opportunity, it has been a privilege to represent the views of leaders during the many educational discussions that have taken place over the years. Iím pretty sure all colleagues would agree this has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging periods in education. Being a member of ASCL Council has certainly helped me navigate through these unprecedented times, and I know many of my colleagues feel the same. 

It has always been said that collaboration is the key to success, and this has proven to be the case repeatedly throughout my time as an ASCL Council member. While school and college life can be challenging with many curve balls thrown our way, Council has always offered solutions to the issues we have to deal with. Having a chance to work alongside solution-led, knowledgeable, professional and optimistic colleagues from ASCL has made dealing with issues much more manageable. The chance to share strategies from schools and colleges across the country has enabled me to evaluate my own school practices and adapt them for the benefit of my whole school community. 

What is ASCL Council? 

Council is the policymaking body of ASCL. Itís made up of elected members, representing all the regions of the UK, across all sectors of education from early years and primary through to further education. We meet three times a year to debate a diverse range of topics and agree the position that ASCL should take on behalf of its members. These positions are then used to promote policies that are in the best interests of schools and colleges. 

What have we done? 

I have been a member of Councilís Curriculum and Assessment Committee since I joined three years ago. This year, I was also appointed Vice Chair of the committee, a position that has been an absolute privilege to take on. The committeeís remit includes areas such as curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment and qualifications, Ofsted, primary and post-16 education. 

Working alongside ASCL officers and all the other members of the committee has challenged my thinking and engaged me in diverse conversations covering a wide range of topics. As professionals we do not always agree on issues, but thatís absolutely fine and crucial if we want to make positive changes to the education system. Robust discussions with checks and balances enable ASCL leaders to bring a diverse range of strengths to the table. During committee meetings weíve also had a wide range of speakers, including hearing directly from Ofqual, Ofsted and the DfE. 

The remit of our committee is broad, making it perfect for a leader who wants to be informed of current educational changes. Certainly, one of our biggest challenges in 2020 and 2021 was to ensure the replacement for exams was implemented fairly and accurately. 

The committee has also engaged in discussions concerning: 

  • the curriculum under the new Ofsted framework 
  • the role of BTECs and T levels in the post-16 curriculum 
  • funding and provision for students with special educational needs 
  • the role of multi-academy trusts in the future education system 

What have I got out of it? 

Navigating and making sense of the plethora of guidance distributed weekly and sometimes daily during the pandemic was something that committee members were able to do very quickly. ASCLís expertise not only supported me within my own school, but it helped me to support other colleagues in the local area too. 

As a Council member, opportunities arise to pose questions directly to the Education Secretary during the ASCL Annual Conference. At this yearís conference in March, we explored policy concerning recruitment and retention, accountability measures, funding and the direction of the white paper. To be able to put questions and opinions directly to those at the top of our education system is a fantastic opportunity and a great way to hopefully bring about positive change. 

Finally, as a member of Council, it has been a privilege to be part of ASCLís work on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). 

Working alongside my co-chairs and fellow Council members Caroline Lowing and Gary Mullings, ASCLís Ethnic Diversity Network (www.ascl.org.uk/EDI) has gone from strength to strength. And, in March, Caroline and I presented the work of the network at Annual Conference. 

School and college leaders help shape the workforce of the future and must engage in the experiences of different teachers in their own establishments, working hard to ensure they have a fully inclusive philosophy in their schools and colleges. 

Iím always looking for different ways to keep my professional development at the heart of my work and to keep my thinking fresh and up to date. Joining ASCL Council is one of the best things Iíve ever done; itís made me a better leader, thinker and professional. Meeting so many leaders from across the whole country and being able to discuss the hottest educational topics has been a great help to me. 

Leadership in our schools and colleges is challenging; however, it is by the strength of collaboration, co-operation and engaging in robust interesting debate that we will find the solutions. ASCL Council has certainly allowed me to do this and has taught me how to become a more strategic, forward-thinking leader. 


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. 

For further information see www.ascl.org.uk/council 

Gurpall Badesha
Deputy Headteacher, Crofton School in Hampshire

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