2020 Autumn Term 2


  • We're here for you
    Supporting you is at the heart of everything we do. Director of Member Support, Richard Tanton, says it's been an exceptionally busy year for his team, advising and representing leaders through challenging times. Here he gives an overview. More
  • A new era
    Professor Alma Harris from Swansea University highlights the emerging insights about school leadership within the Covid-19 educational landscape. More
  • Future proofing education
    Caroline Sharp from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) provides an insight into schools' recent experiences of providing distance and blended learning and their implications for future waves of Covid-19. More
  • Create a coffee culture
    Headteacher Emmanuel Botwe believes that creating the right culture and values in your school or college is vital to the success of student outcomes, especially in the midst of the current health crisis. More
  • Reflect and refocus
    The pandemic has enabled us to reflect on our current education system and strive to make it fairer and more equitable for the future. Here, Geoff Barton says we need to seize that opportunity once and for all. More
  • What are we fighting for?
    ASCL's newly appointed specialist Tom Middlehurst on the importance of the curriculum. More
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Supporting you is at the heart of everything we do. Director of Member Support, Richard Tanton, says it’s been an exceptionally busy year for his team, advising and representing leaders through challenging times. Here he gives an overview.

We're here for you

Member support is the backbone of our service to ASCL members, whether that is via our 7-days-a-week, 52-weeks-a-year Hotline, the complex and challenging casework supervised by our regional and field officers, or the legal support and advocacy provided by our team of employment solicitors. 

Key figures

It will come as no surprise that in these unprecedented times, there has been an unprecedented number of calls to our Hotline and to meet this demand, we’ve increased the number of duty officers available to answer your calls and emails. Over the last academic year we received 6,979 contacts, an increase of 800 on the previous year. The importance of our Hotline service has never been more clearly recognised by ASCL members. Quite apart from the speed of turnaround in compiling guidance, the sheer volume of work has been very evident over recent months.

Keeping you informed

It has been as much a challenge for the team as it has for members to keep up to date with the new and ever-changing Covid-related guidance for schools and colleges, and then to assist members with interpreting that information. The dialogue between members, Hotline and ASCL’s team of specialists has become an increasing feature of our work since March, often forming the basis for the FAQs on the ASCL website: www.ascl.org.uk/Coronavirus-FAQs

Questions relating to Covid have and continue to dominate; initial infections and closure of school premises, remote learning, the education of key worker and vulnerable children, school holiday opening, and free school meals preoccupied us in the first couple of months of lockdown. These were swiftly followed by the centre-assessed grade (CAG) narrative, and, indeed, members are still calling about this ongoing issue. Over the summer, September reopening, bubbles and groups, site management, and personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks dominated. Currently, the main issues are difficulties around testing and contact with local health boards, along with concerns about the extra costs associated with teacher absence and cleaning. 

Of course, not all your contact with us has been Covid related; the number of calls concerning pensions has also increased. It’s important you keep up to date with your pensions – read more about how to go about this from our new Pensions Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski, on page 29

Members have understandably been concerned about the return to the classroom, particularly those who have been shielding or who were previously classed as vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, including pregnant colleagues, and this has contributed to a number of calls about members’ own conditions of service. Read our new Guidance Paper: Maternity and Adoption Leavewww.ascl.org.uk/MaternityGuidance for those who are pregnant or adopting (including dads-to-be), and those who manage staff.

The future

A crystal ball would be needed to know exactly which issues will come to the forefront during the rest of the autumn term, but be assured that the ASCL Hotline will be available for you to discuss any of your concerns – whether it is to discuss a situation in school or college, or for advice about your own employment or simply to help find an elusive answer to a nagging question. Whatever the issue, Hotline is here to help. 

The outstanding work of the Hotline Team has been mirrored by that of our regional and field officers. The academic year 2019/20 has been shaped and dominated by the Covid pandemic and, until March 2020, our data analysis showed that calls to Hotline referred to a regional officer were at an unprecedented volume. Our experienced caseworkers were providing bespoke support to individual members on a whole plethora of issues, many of which were technically challenging. 

New ways of supporting you

The numerous investigative interviews and hearings are a feature of a regional and field officer’s work and this has never been more the case than now. Although the volume of referrals slowed once schools and colleges went into lockdown, it is now increasing again and our caseworkers have adapted superbly to a world in which physical meetings are being replaced by virtual meetings. Self-evidently, this is not without its challenges but, as with Hotline colleagues, adaptability and professionalism have been key to ensuring that our members continue to benefit from objective advice, together with effective, robust representation.

Our Legal Team

Perhaps one of the unseen features of ASCL membership is that members benefit from bespoke legal support provided by our team of solicitors. Our Legal Team has and continues to be in great demand, such is the necessary reliance on their specific knowledge, advice and guidance in supporting casework. We have a daily triage provision that allows colleagues to sense check matters with a solicitor and on a daily basis our solicitors work closely with regional and field officers to ensure that our members receive technical and legal advice on specific cases. Our solicitors are also involved in guiding members through regulatory processes, whether they be in England, Scotland or Wales. ASCL’s solicitors have considerable experience and expertise in regulatory work. 

Contract checking service 

And, finally, we have a free contract checking service available for members that can be accessed through ASCL Hotline. To find out more, watch this video from our Legal Team: www.ascl.org.uk/contractchecking 

ASCL’s Member Support Team is here to provide you with all the necessary advice and expertise, whatever your situation. This crisis has meant that members are seeking more support from us than ever before – please be assured that we’re here for you and we’ve got your back. 

Do you need our support?

If you need any help or advice, call the ASCL Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk In addition, we have also produced an extensive and growing range of guidance to support members in dealing with the unprecedented Covid-19 situation – see our website here: www.ascl.org.uk/coronavirus

As one ASCL member said: “It brought home to me how valuable it is to have ASCL at a time when you need someone fighting your corner. I can honestly recommend the support provided by ASCL as being in a class of its own.” 

And another member commented: “I just wanted to thank you for your recent help and advice. What I appreciated the most was the time you both gave to listen to me and then talk through possible options. It really helped me to consolidate my thoughts and process what I wanted to do.”

ASCL Hotline Key figures 2019/20

  • The Hotline dealt with 6,979 enquiries from members.
  • That is 30–40 calls a day on average.
  • Covid-related questions and queries, plus those relating to your pensions, were the top two topics for calls from members. 
  • A total of 1,218 members were supported for ongoing individual professional issues.

Richard Tanton
ASCL Director of Member Support