2021 Spring Term 2

The know zone

  • Effective transition
    The impact of the pandemic on lost learning for primary school pupils moving up to secondary school is a growing concern. Never has the focus on high-quality collaboration and early transition planning been so important, says ASCL Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • Getting our priorities right
    ASCL Specialist Margaret Mulholland believes that Covid-19 has highlighted the stark reality of disadvantage and segregation in our education system. Now, she says, it's time to get our priorities right. More
  • Brave new world?
    As the government launches its consultation on changing the way our students apply to university, ASCL Specialist Kevin Gilmartin examines the key proposals. More
  • Defining your benefits
    ASCL Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski highlights the benefits of belonging in the Teachers' Pension Scheme. More
  • Remote teaching
    We've all had to change the way we work during this crisis, especially during lockdown. Here, ASCL members share their experience of remote teaching and working throughout the pandemic... More
  • Candid camera
    Principal Hannah Knowles says being a member of ASCL Council is a privilege and it has widened her vision of education. Here she shares her passion for Council, teaching and leading, and her dislike of... 101 Dalmatians. More
  • A time for peas
    Home schooling plus online meetings and lessons while minding three youngsters... not to mention the head injuries, disastrous baking and 'comfort breaks'. Alex Wallace opens up his lockdown diary from early last year. More
  • Remote audit
    The impact of Covid-19 has brought many challenges for academies over the last ten months, but one rarely mentioned is that faced by finance and management teams as they undertake the annual external audit remotely, says Andy Jones from Cooper Parry. More
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Principal Hannah Knowles says being a member of ASCL Council is a privilege and it has widened her vision of education. Here she shares her passion for Council, teaching and leading, and her dislike ofÖ101 Dalmatians.

Candid camera

Tell us about your role and your academy

Iím the Principal of The Skinnersí Kent Academy in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The academy is an all-ability, 11Ė18, non-fee-paying school, supported fully by its lead sponsor The Skinnersí School and the Skinnersí Company, one of the 12 great livery companies in the City of London. Our inclusive focus to education remains steadfast in our approach to supporting the young people in our care.

Tell us about your role on ASCL Council

I was fortunate to have worked closely with Sian Carr, ASCL Past President, as her academyís vice principal and it was Sian who encouraged me to become involved in the valuable work of ASCL Council. Since 2019, Iíve been on the Teaching and Learning Committee. The committee has discussed and debated some incredibly challenging topics, including the centre-assessed grade (CAG) process for summer 2020 exams and Ofsted inspections, to name just two.

I canít quite put into words the impact that sitting on Council has had both on my understanding of education but also on my leadership. The ability to discuss important and impactful topics with your peers from different sectors of the education world has broadened not only my understanding of key topics, but also my ability to reflect on how one topic that has little impact in my own context can have significant impact on someone elseís and vice versa. My vision of education has subsequently widened as a result of Council.

Itís a real privilege to speak on behalf of others at Council. I am also Vice Chair of ASCLís LGBT Leadersí Network and we have started some important work to bring new voices to ASCLís work.

Why did you decide to get into teaching/leadership?

Ah, this is quite a simple and I guess fairy tale answer because I decided I wanted to teach from the age of eight. The idea of getting paid to deliver day-in-day-out a subject I love seemed like the best idea in the world. It stemmed from a love of my subject Ė PE Ė and like many of us, some amazing teachers providing me with wonderful opportunities.

In terms of leadership, I quickly realised that not only could I get a real buzz from teaching, but I also felt the same from the ability to shape and create opportunities for young people on a wider level and across their education. Leadership really can transform who we are and where we go, and I have always bought into this concept, so I very much wanted to be part of leadership at all levels.

How do you like to unwind?

I have a young family so that definitely keeps me on my toes, but I enjoy nothing more than getting out on my paddle board and walks along the seafront.

Tell us an interesting fact about you

When I was about seven, my uncle, who was a photographer, asked if I wouldnít mind having a few photos taken with me listening to my Walkman. Fast forward eight years, I was sat in my biology lesson when the teacher asked us to turn to the chapter on electricity. Iím not sure mortified covers how I felt, when there on the first page, I was staring back at the class. I wish I hadnít been wearing my 101 Dalmatians jumper. I do still, however, have a copy of the textbook.

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

In terms of films, sports films and their messages of perseverance and overcoming the odds always resonate with me, so with that in mind, I would say Million Dollar Baby. Books are even harder, but I have to say, The Hundred- Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. I just love the message about taking an adventure when you can.

What advice would you give to someone new to leadership?

Listen. Although I am still very much in my infancy of leadership, I have learnt so much by just listening to those around me and reflecting on what is being said. It might be that little or a lot of action is taken from it, but it is essential that those who work with you know that you will take the time for them to be heard.

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.