2021 Spring Term 1

The know zone

  • Embracing change
    Bob Jackson, Assistant Principal at Goole Academy, on how online lessons have consigned 'snow days' to the past. More
  • Covid keepers
    ASCL Specialist, Hayley Dunn, shares some of the positives that have emerged from the pandemic. More
  • Get your finances in order
    The way you use money in the short-term impacts your future financial freedom. Here, with tips for getting your long-term finances in order, is Joshua May from income protection insurance specialists PG Mutual. More
  • Change must be sustainable
    If FE is to play its full part in the country's recovery from the pandemic, it must be funded realistically, argues ASCL Senior Advisor Anne Murdoch. More
  • Visions of 2020
    There's no doubt that 2020 was a year like no other and one that most of us would like to forget, but among the doom and gloom of the pandemic there have been many stories of positivity, kindness, inspiration and laughter. Here, ASCL members share their views... More
  • SEN-sational!
    Director of Inclusion Dr Nic Crossley says being a member of ASCL Council enables her to be an active voice for the special educational needs (SEN) sector and for women leaders. Here she shares her passion for Council, leadership and... shoes. More
  • Splendid isolation
    What are the rules regarding pandemic social etiquette when it comes to teaching and meetings? Debrett's has yet to pronounce on this delicate issue, so how are we supposed to know how to behave in front of a screen or at a social distance, asks Carl Smith. More
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Director of Inclusion Dr Nic Crossley says being a member of ASCL Council enables her to be an active voice for the special educational needs (SEN) sector and for women leaders. Here she shares her passion for Council, leadership and… shoes.


Tell us about your role and  your multi-academy trust

I’m the Director of Inclusion at Astrea, a multi-academy trust of 27 schools, covering primary, secondary and specialist provision. Our schools are based in South Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire and so are diverse in geography, however, what unites them is the high numbers of pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND) and high levels of socio-economic deprivation.

Tell us about your role on  ASCL Council

I’m the SEN representative for Council, having been elected for September 2020. I am also a member of the Ethics, Inclusion and Equalities Committee and Chair of the newly formed Women Leaders’ Network.

I became a Council member because I wanted to be an active voice for the SEN sector, which is often under-represented and subject to sweeping generalisations, creating division and misunderstanding. My first few meetings were such an eye-opening experience of quality discussions and informed debate, underpinned by a moral and ethical position, that I put myself forward to chair the ASCL Women Leaders’ Network. By the time you read this we will have had our first meeting and I am excited that we have an opportunity to promote the voice of women leaders and develop a safe space for coaching and networking, while influencing policy and practice. If you want to join the network or find out more, please email CorporateAdmin@ascl.org.uk

Why did you decide to get  into teaching/leadership?

I came into teaching relatively late but driven by a passion for literature and wanting to share that passion.

My first few schools were challenging, but the fast pace of improvement ignited a passion that has seen me develop into a highly motivated and determined individual. I was promoted quite quickly and each time I’d look at the next tier up and think, “Oh, I’d never want to do that,” but it wasn’t long before I craved more responsibility and wanted to be the one driving the improvements on a larger scale.

I think, though, that my leadership journey has been influenced by time and place where skillset and need have serendipitously collided.

How do you like to unwind?

If you were to ask my middle son, he’d say I work and do nothing else. I push back and tell him I read, and I run – to which he argues that I read for work and run to de-stress from work, so it’s all work. I do enjoy reading and have a bedside table full of books from both the education and sporting worlds. I’m currently re-reading Matthew Syed’s Rebel Ideas: The power of diverse thinking and have recently finished Jeremy Schaap’s Triumph: The untold story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics.

Tell us an interesting  fact about you

I don’t know whether it’s particularly interesting, but I am known for my wide and varied collection of shoes. I often arrive at a school with gold flashing heels or a pair of ‘Miss Piggy’ boots, for example.

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

Oh gosh. It changes so often and depending on my mood. I suppose the book I read the most is Pre by Tom Jordan, about the American runner Steve Prefontaine, who died far too soon. I’m not really a film lover, as I can’t sit still, but again the film I watch over and over is Elf – you can’t beat the simple innocence of Will Ferrell in that role and I never tire of watching it – even after Christmas.

What advice would  you give to someone  new to leadership?

Read around your subject, be open-minded and network because you never stop learning.

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.