2021 Autumn Term 1

The know zone

  • Good business sense
    School business leaders are a vital part of education leadership but, sadly, many SLTs still do not include a business or finance lead. Here, ASCL Specialist Louise Hatswell shines a spotlight on their work. More
  • Academy Trust Handbook 2021
    ASCL Business Leadership Specialist and representative on the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Academies Finance and Assurance Steering Group Hayley Dunn highlights the key changes from the recent update to the renamed Academy Trust Handbook. More
  • Vocational reform
    Highly significant changes to vocational qualifications are underway. Here, ASCL Specialist Kevin Gilmartin looks at the implications for students, schools and colleges. More
  • Don't believe the hype
    ASCL Pensions Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski shares tips and advice to help members avoid becoming victims of unscrupulous pension scammers. More
  • Wise words of wisdom
    Here, ASCL members share their advice for new leaders starting this September. More
  • Critical thinking
    Headteacher Hannah Millett says being on ASCL Council has helped her build a wider network of leaders to support her in her job. Here, she shares her passion for Council, leadership, football and not being afraid of criticism. More
  • Baby boom and bust
    Despite a short-term recruitment rush encouraged by the pandemic, we are still desperately short of secondary teachers. Carl Smith suggests some drastic remedies for the problem. More
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Headteacher Hannah Millett says being on ASCL Council has helped her build a wider network of leaders to support her in her job. Here, she shares her passion for Council, leadership, football and not being afraid of criticism.

Critical thinking

Tell us about your role and your school

I’m the Headteacher of Stokesley School and Sixth Form College, in the beautiful market town of Stokesley, North Yorkshire. It’s an 11–18 state-funded comprehensive school and one of three secondary schools in the Areté Learning Trust. Our playing fields have a stunning backdrop of the Cleveland Hills (as you can see in my picture), yet we’re also on the edge of a number of larger towns including Middlesbrough, which brings a number of different socio-economic factors into our profile.

Tell us about your role on ASCL Council

Getting good quality professional development as a headteacher is not an easy task; prior to joining ASCL Council, I imagined becoming a Regional Representative would be a good way to further my knowledge and skills for the benefit of my community and other members. I wasn’t wrong.

My first year has been fascinating: as a member of ASCL Council’s Teaching and Learning Committee, I have been part of crucial discussions that shape policy regarding examinations, remote learning, performance tables and ASCL’s blueprint. I have learned a great deal and built a wider network of leaders who support me in my job.

Why did you decide to get into teaching/leadership?

I arrived late into the teaching profession after a short career in banking. If I’m totally honest, I knew only two things when I started out: that I loved my subject that I had studied at university several years ago, and that – as a young mum – teaching seemed like the ideal way to have a fulfilling career and still play a large part in my children’s upbringing.

Soon after starting though, I was hooked. I thrived off the young people who never cease to inspire me every day. I also found I wasn’t bad at it, and enjoyed helping others to improve, too. I quickly qualified as an advanced skills teacher in English, and then moved through a teaching and learning assistant headship, a curriculum deputy role, head of school and then to the role of headteacher. I’ve worked in four different schools and have met wonderful role models along the way.

How do you like to unwind?

My biggest hobby is being a season ticket holder at Middlesbrough Football Club – I’d like to say I do this to unwind, but that wouldn’t be true. I also enjoy swimming; a headteacher I worked under in a previous role was a huge exponent of the benefits of exercise to de-stress from the pressures of headship and he was absolutely right.

Tell us an interesting fact about you

I was brought up in a single parent household and was part of the first generation in my family to attend university. My brothers and I grew up with a solid work ethic and plenty of aspiration, which means we all attended university and have challenging, yet rewarding, careers.

What’s your favourite book and your favourite film of all time and why?

I love Thomas Hardy novels, so my favourite book is probably Far from the Madding Crowd or The Mayor of Casterbridge. Although to unwind, I do also like to dive into a bit of historical fiction – something by Bernard Cornwell would be a firm favourite, too.

In terms of films, my favourite films are not to do with the film itself, and more to do with who I watched them with. Coming to America would be an example of a film that is not an obvious classic, and probably has many outdated themes and stereotypes, but as a young teen I watched it with my beloved older brother over and over until we could quote every line. As I say, it’s not about the film, but it’s about the memories of sibling love and companionship that it evokes.

What advice would you give to someone new to leadership?

I have a quotation on the wall in my office by Aristotle that says, “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by doing nothing, saying nothing, and being nothing.” I changed a number of things (that needed changing) when I first came into headship and that generated criticism from various stakeholders; at first, you can easily take this to heart, but your resilience builds over time. If you stick to a core set of principles and values, you soon realise that you can’t go far wrong, and if no one’s complaining, you mustn’t be doing anything.

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.

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