October 2017


  • Rooting for you
    Geoff Barton welcomes leaders to the new academic year and shares ASCL's renewed ambition and optimism to remain true to its roots, and serve all members. More
  • Don't be a hero
    Does school and college leadership really matter? World-renowned educationalist Professor John Hattie says yes, but it has to be the right type of leadership. More
  • Redo the maths
    Welcome though it is, the National Funding Formula requires a more sophisticated level of calculation if it is to reflect the real cost to schools of providing a worthwhile education, say Sam Ellis, Susan Fielden and Julia Harnden. More
  • Aiming higher
    Headmaster Walter Boyle says helping students to develop soft skills as well as encouraging successful academic grades can benefit staff and students alike. More
  • Changing places
    Teacher shortages and the developing role of multi-academy trusts (MATs) are two highly important issues for current education policy. Senior Economist Jack Worth says that research suggests that MATs are successfully deploying staff effectively across schools. More
  • Vital support
    Member support is the backbone of ASCL's work. Director Richard Tanton says it's been a busy year for his team, advising and representing leaders in a challenging education landscape. More
Bookmark and Share

Member support is the backbone of ASCL’s work. Director Richard Tanton says it’s been a busy year for his team, advising and representing leaders in a challenging education landscape.

Vital support

One of the key reasons that school and college leaders join ASCL is to tap into the individual support and advice offered through the association’s Member Support Directorate, which has a team of 40 staff, including 6 Hotline officers, 11 regional officers, 12 field officers and 4 solicitors. Knowing that there’s someone on the other end of the line who truly understands education leadership issues and knowing that someone is there to listen, no matter what the topic or concern, is reassuring for our members, especially in a constantly evolving education system.

All of our member support staff have years of experience as senior leaders in education and are trained to listen without judging and to suggest, coach and guide. One of the key strengths of the team is the manner in which each team member works with the others, providing a unique wraparound service for ASCL members.

At the heart of the Association is not only the aim of providing members with responses to concerns that they may raise through our Hotline, but also to offer bespoke, tailored, individual representation and support when their employment may be at risk or if they face a specific challenge.

The Hotline

The ASCL Hotline is open for members every day, and yes, that does include Christmas Day. Call volume has been consistently high over the last three years with the team taking more than 6,500 calls from members in the last academic year alone. Seven days a week, the Hotline is serviced by experienced colleagues with a vast degree of knowledge and wisdom. Often handling from 30 to 40 calls a day, it’s a tribute to the expertise of the team that they can answer questions across a wide range of subjects and themes. At the weekend, members can call the Hotline in an emergency from 9am to 5pm.

Over the last year, more and more calls have required a focus on providing members with support relating specifically to individual employment situations, including on issues such as restructuring, capability concerns, managing relationships with governors or trustees or to do with health matters. All calls are kept confidential and are handled with a great deal of care and attention.

No matter how big or small the issue, the team is always available to help members in need and, in many cases, the ASCL Hotline has been an extremely important lifeline for school and college leaders. As one ASCL member said: “My response from ASCL’s Hotline was excellent and informed.” Another commented: “Throughout a difficult and unsettling period, ASCL has provided fast, clear support and guidance at every turn.”

Regional and field officers

In most cases, members’ questions can be addressed on the Hotline but if more individual support is required, then members can be referred to our team of regional and field officers. During 2016/17, there was an increase in the number of cases referred to regional and field officers, with referrals at about 20% (up by 2.5% from the previous year).

No one case is the same and the team has to establish quickly the facts of the case, the options available and what may be achievable regardless of any sensitivities, challenges or complexities. Like other members of the team, regional and field officers have extensive leadership experience and much of that comes from previously being in headship. Their work requires great insight, a working knowledge of employment law, resilience and an ability to be objective in representing members though a myriad of employment scenarios. Much of their working week can also involve consultations with employers, meetings with CEOs, discussions with regional school commissioners and liaising with local ASCL representatives, who provide important local networks for members. They often travel about 12,000 miles a year.

Legal Team

More and more of our work necessitates legal representation. On a daily basis, our Legal Team is available to provide advice through our Hotline and through our regional and field officers. Often, one of our solicitors – all of whom are experts in employment law – will meet with a member and with the regional or field officer working on the member’s case, in order to provide further support and advice.

Our Legal Team has extensive experience and a very successful track record, whether in terms of a settlement agreement or offering bespoke advice on individual circumstances. Such work demonstrates the interconnectivity of the service provided by ASCL, from the moment that a member gets in touch with us through the Hotline, through to the support they receive from our regional and field officers and then, if required, the guidance, and in some cases, legal representation by our Legal Team.

Another noticeable feature over the last year has been the increase in work involving referrals to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). This has led to our Legal Team being heavily involved in extremely high-profile and often long-running cases and hearings. Our experience also extends to the regulatory bodies in Wales and Scotland. It is indicative of the quality of advice and representation that many referrals (almost 50% over the last 12 months) have been effectively ‘dismissed’ at an early stage and, equally impressive, is the track record of our Legal Team’s success at NCTL hearings (in the last 12 months, more than 85% of ASCL’s regulatory cases that reached hearing avoided a prohibition and in more than 60% of cases ASCL’s member was found not guilty). Read more about our Legal Team on page 7.

Living up to expectations

Essential to the membership of any professional association is the expectation that an association reflects the views of members and helps shape policy and practice. Equally as essential would be the expectation that members can access support, advice and representation of a very high calibre when they need to, each and every day.

That is what ASCL aims for and that is what we strive to do.

As one ASCL member said: “Throughout a difficult and unsettling period, ASCL has provided fast, clear support and guidance at every turn”.

ASCL Hotline
Key figures 2016/17

  • The Hotline dealt with 6,665 enquiries from members.
  • That’s 30-40 calls a day on average.
  • Restructuring, and discipline and capability were the top two topics for calls from members.
  • 1,285 members were supported for ongoing individual professional issues

ASCL Support

If you need any help or advice, call the ASCL Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk.

Richard Tanton
ASCL Director of Member Support