December 2017


  • All the right moves
    The future is never certain in the world of education says Geoff Barton. However, one thing leaders can rely on is that ASCL will continue to protect, defend and advise them. More
  • Preparation is key
    New data protection laws will apply from next year and schools and colleges must prepare for them now says Daljit Kaur, Associate at Browne Jacobson. More
  • Head first
    In a bid to equip young people with the tools to navigate their mental health and build their self-esteem, mental health organisation The Self-Esteem Team shares its top tips for staff and pupils. More
  • Time to speak out
    LGBT+ students need more role models among their teachers if they are to come out with confidence, says Daniel Gray, one of the organisers of new support and advocacy group LGBTed. More
  • Leading character education
    As discussion grows around character education, researchers David Sims and Matt Walker from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) highlight key findings from a new research project into the ways that five pioneering schools are leading character education within their settings. More
  • The gift of knowledge
    In celebration of the 100th issue of ASCL's Leader magazine, we asked senior leaders to share one piece of advice they would give to their younger selves if they were starting their first leadership role today. Here's what they said... More
  • Unfair shares
    Sam Ellis, Susan Fielden and Julia Harnden test out the National Funding Formula (NFF) and find it wanting. More
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In celebration of the 100th issue of ASCL’s Leader magazine, we asked senior leaders to share one piece of advice they would give to their younger selves if they were starting their first leadership role today. Here’s what they said…

The gift of knowledge

Stop worrying
Stop worrying so much. All those imagined issues and conversations that kept you awake at night rarely materialised in the way you feared.
Geoff Barton, ASCL General Secretary

Don’t micro manage
There’s a phrase, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’. I think that’s wrong. You do need to grasp the detail, but it doesn’t mean you have to micro-manage.
Carl Sugden, Headteacher, King James’s School, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

A race for life
Leadership is a bit like a fun-run marathon. It’s not how far ahead of the pack you are, it’s how many people are with you.
Peter Woodman, Headteacher, The Weald School and Sixth Form, Billingshurst, West Sussex

Be inspired
Remember to leave time to be inspired by the children.
Mark Mayne, Head of School, Barnhill Community High School, Hayes, Middlesex

Make a difference
Accept that there isn’t time to do everything as brilliantly as you’d like but there is time to do everything well enough to make a significant difference to children’s lives.
Kate Claydon, Deputy Headteacher, Worthing High School, Worthing, West Sussex

Be patient
Don’t let ‘keyboard warriors’ ruin your evenings/ weekends – avoid an immediate response. You’ll be more considered in office hours.
Carol White, Headteacher, Shavington Academy, Shavington, Cheshire East

Listen more, talk less! Mike Webster, Former Headteacher A positive touch Never underestimate the power of the human touch, always be positive and remain consistent with everyone. Remember, the school will become your embodiment in soul, sprit and vision.
Carl Ward, ASCL President and Chief Executive of the City Learning Trust, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

For the kids
Base all your decisions on the fact that we are here for the children and you won’t go wrong.
Karen Gammack, Director of Learning, St Thomas More RC Academy, North Shields, North Tyneside

Learn resilience
Don’t take setbacks personally; think of them as character building experiences. Resilience is a key building block of you as a future leader and remember the saying ‘ It’s a wise bamboo that bends with the wind’.
Anne Davis, Principal, Dartford Science and Technology College, Kent

Enjoy the journey
Sometimes to get from A to B you need to go via C to make sure everyone stays with you, rather than trying to achieve everything at 100mph, alone.
Gulbanu Kader, Vice Principal, Rushey Mead Academy, Leicester, Leicestershire

One vision
Be sure to explain your vision for our school to staff, parents and students.
Ken Baines, Retired Headteacher

Challenge yourself
Regardless of the challenges you will face over the coming years, school leadership is the best job in the world.
Arwel Jones, Headteacher, Brentside High School, London

Don’t procrastinate
If you need to challenge an underperforming member of staff, do it now. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, it will probably get worse!
Susan Trill, Regional Finance Director Oasis South Bristol Cluster

Grow great staff
Don’t spend time trying to improve the inadequate performance of experienced teachers; invest energy in growing great teachers, this is high yield activity!
Catherine Hughes, Retired Principal

Pace yourself
It doesn’t all need to be done today, this week or even this term! Pace yourself, delegate and focus most of your energy where it will have the most impact on the children.
Tanya Douglas, Deputy Headteacher Chace Community School, Enfield, London

Smile, and they’ll all smile with you. Breathe, and feel the calm surround you. Lead, to inspire, encourage, enthuse and enable.
Emma Wilkes, Headteacher Oakfield Academy, Frome, Somerset

Clear values
Be clear about your values and hold on to them fiercely. Be more relaxed about everything else.

Stephen Munday CBE, Chief Executive of the Comberton Academy Trust and Executive Principal of Comberton and Cambourne Village Colleges, Cambridgeshire

Stimulate your mind
Read all kinds of literature including fiction, every day and keep your mind challenged with ideas beyond professional work.
Vivienne Durham, Chief Executive of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA)

Embrace feedback
There is no failure, only feedback.
John Banbrook, Business and Finance Director, Faringdon Academy of Schools, Faringdon, Oxfordshire

Stay true to yourself
No matter what challenges you face, questions you must answer or decisions you must make, always… to thine own self be true!
David Waugh, Headteacher Poynton High School, Stockport, Cheshire

It’s good to talk
Focus relentlessly on teaching and learning by talking to classroom teachers and to pupils about what works best for them, and never miss an opportunity to initiate challenge.
Stephen Brierley, Principal St Margaret’s Church of England Academy, Liverpool

Consider everyone
Consider the vulnerable learners. Does what you’re developing or leading make a difference to all learners? If not, think again.
Margaret Mulholland, Director of Development & Research Swiss Cottage School, London

Embrace change
Change is good, but change management is key, do it carefully and take people with you every step of the way.
Sharon Bates, Headteacher Mill Hill Primary Academy, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

The constant gardener
Being a good leader is like being a constant gardener. You have to look after your garden every day: feed it, care for it and occasionally prune it. It doesn’t happen overnight but eventually your school becomes a beautiful place to be.
Julie Bloor, Chief Education Officer, Academy Transformation Trust, Birmingham, West Midlands

An association for you

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) speaks on behalf of members and acts on behalf of children and young people. ASCL is Britain’s leading professional body representing over 18,500 school and college leaders in all phases across the UK.

Our members are responsible for the education of more than four million young people. ASCL works to shape national education policy, provides advice and support to members and delivers first-class professional development.

Inspired by a vision of high-quality education for all young people, ASCL aims to be the first choice professional body for all school and college leaders.

Membership benefits include:

  • Trade union and legal support
  • Professional advice and guidance
  • A voice in national education policy
  • Expert advice from our Hotline
  • Regular weekly email updates
  • A range of CPD services to suit your needs
  • Money saving discounts
  • Tax deductible subscriptions
  • Our flagship magazine – Leader
  • Exclusive access to the ASCL website

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