2020 Spring Term 2

The know zone

  • Primary inspections
    The new Ofsted Inspection Framework has been in place since September and, so far, the emerging picture shows a somewhat mixed bag of inspection experiences in primary schools. Here, Tiffnie Harris shares her insights. More
  • Resource management
    Hayley Dunn provides a summary of a report on the Schools Resource Management Adviser (SRMA) pilot and says that while it provides useful pointers for schools, the report fails to recognise wider funding concerns. More
  • What's on offer?
    University offers have reached new levels of complexity. But is this complexity necessary or is it masking some rather opaque practices? Kevin Gilmartin explores what is really going on with university offer-making. More
  • Digital Detox
    ASCL's Online Editor Sally Jack shares some suggestions on how to manage your digital selves on social media and keep your mental health healthy. More
  • Should GCSEs be scrapped?
    Have GCSEs had their day? Should we have a lighter touch form of assessment at 16? Or do GCSEs represent an inviolable 'gold standard'? And is another upheaval of exams just too much trouble? Here ASCL members share their views. More
  • Non nobis solum
    Headteacher Catharine Darnton joined ASCL Council last September and is a member of the Funding Committee. More
  • Better left unsaid
    The relentless road to self-improvement is paved with potential unhappiness and frustration. Wouldn't it be even better if we simply settled for everyday excellence, asks Carl Smith. More
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Headteacher Catharine Darnton joined ASCL Council last September and is a member of the Funding Committee.

Non nobis solum

Tell us about your school 

I am a headteacher at Gillotts School, a mixed 11–16 school in South East Oxfordshire, which occupies a 33-acre site on the edge of Henley-on-Thames. Its 900 students come from Henley and the surrounding villages. Our school moto – ‘non nobis solum’ – translates as ‘not by ourselves alone’ and this sense of teamwork, collaboration and cooperation underpins the life of the school.

Why did you decide to become an ASCL Council member? 

I’ve only been on Council since September 2019. I honestly don’t think I could do my job without ASCL. ASCL tells me what I need to know, has someone I can ask if I need to and often keeps me sane by speaking sense when no-one else seems to be. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been involved with the #WorthLess? school funding campaign, on behalf of Oxfordshire secondary heads, and it just felt the right time to take that further through ASCL Council – I am on the Funding Committee.

Why did you decide to get into teaching/leadership?

I was only 20 when I finished my degree. I had always wondered about teaching and so thought doing a PGCE couldn’t hurt. I still remember my first day in school; the teacher said, “Come in, get your books out, put your bags on the floor!” This seems to have been enough to hook me into education for life. The decision to become a headteacher was a much slower burn – interestingly, it was doing the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) that finally made up my mind to take the leap.

How do you like to unwind?

Reading fiction is my best and constant source of relaxation. I also love being outdoors – walking, biking and outdoor swimming. I am not ‘sporty’ at all but, as an adult, I have found I love being physically active and this very much influences how I feel about PE at school. It is so important that we help young people find things they enjoy doing, even if they aren’t ‘good’ at them.

Tell us an interesting fact about you?

Marcus du Sautoy, the famous mathematician and author, is a former student of Gillotts and, as a maths teacher, he’s one of my great heroes. I didn’t know the link when I got the job at Gillotts, but a colleague was able to get him to send me a lovely email congratulating me.

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

The book I have read most often is probably Pride and Prejudice. I love the irony, but the structure is brilliant, too. The first proposal comes half-way through and you are incensed but then you are delighted at the end by the second. In terms of films, The Railway Children takes a lot of beating, especially the part when the children’s father appears out of the steam on the station platform.

What advice would you give to someone new to leadership?

There is no such thing as a stupid question. Just ask.

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