2020 Autumn Term 1

The know zone

  • Time for re-assessment
    The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many inequalities within the education system, further underlining the need for real change when it comes to primary evaluation, says Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • Parent planning
    Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell explains maternity leave and other entitlements for parents-to-be working in the education sector. More
  • Contextualised offers
    Should more universities be giving disadvantaged students a lower offer? Kevin Gilmartin examines the inconsistent and complicated world of contextualised offers. More
  • Project restart
    Business Leadership Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights some of the key changes to reporting for academies and trusts, including resumption of data collections and greater transparency on executive pay. More
  • Words of wisdom
    We asked members to share a top tip for someone starting a new headship role this September and share a book recommendation that may help anyone new to the role. Here's what you said... More
  • A vote of confidence
    Assistant Head Rich Atterton says being on ASCL Council has enabled him to experience first-hand the Association's ability to shape and influence national education policy and debate. Here he shares his love for Council, teaching, escape rooms and... ballot paper. More
  • #TGIF
    The lack of discipline, general sense of ennui, the dreadful weather... and the fact that the weekend still seems an age away. Tell me why I don't like Thursday, asks Carl Smith. More
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We asked members to share a top tip for someone starting a new headship role this September and share a book recommendation that may help anyone new to the role. Here's what you said...

Words of wisdom

Be grateful

After my first year in this role, I would encourage new headteachers to think carefully about how leadership can link to gratitude. Starting out in a national crisis, with schools closed and where everyone missed the heartbeat of our culture, I have discovered, I think, the shadows of an answer.

It is not precise, but wrapped up in listening, compromise, communication, finding solutions to concerns and, above all, showing humility while also showing professional will. I have learnt that there is a close link between honest, wholehearted listening, while remaining committed to your own professional goals, and fostering gratitude.

Jim Collins, in Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t, explains this in depth in his account of Level 5 leadership. A close friend encouraged me to read this book and told me to read chapters one to three twice; that was very good advice.

Neil Renton
Headteacher, Harrogate Grammar School, Red Kite Learning Trust

Reach for the moon

I would recommend listening to the excellent Apollo 13 podcast. For me it highlights the importance of:

  1. Keeping calm in a crisis
  2. The ability to make a mistake and still be okay and
  3. The need to delegate and take advantage of the best talent in an institution. 

Andrew Cliffe
CEO, Brine Multi Academy Trust, Nantwich, Cheshire

Give up control

The key lesson for any new leader is about learning how to give up control. One of the strongest ways to empower others is to hand responsibility to them – appropriately, of course (this is not about putting the apprentice in charge of the organisation). Growth and improvement – personally and organisationally – come from continually extending the responsibility and control people have over their own work. Having the freedom to make important decisions about their work makes them feel a lot more motivated and builds their trust in your future decisions. 

My book recommendation is The 8th Habit: From effectiveness to greatness by Stephen R. Covey. The book is about ‘finding your voice and helping others discover their own’. Reading this book was a lightbulb moment for me.

Elizabeth Fletcher
School Business Manager, Brannel School, part of Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Be visible

Take time to meet your children and staff. Be visible. Email will wait. Calls will wait. Your team and your children need to see you – know you are human and interested, and not a figure who lives in an office. Showing you can teach alongside colleagues is a brilliant way of gaining trust and support – you show you understand what it’s like and can have empathy.

As for a book, you won’t go far wrong with Ethical Leadership for a Better Education System: What kind of people are we? by Carolyn Roberts. If you want to walk the walk as well as talk the talk, this book helps cement your ethos and shapes it to a place that can be used by all.

Meic Griffiths
Executive Headteacher of the Imperium Federation, Greenwich

Focus on the three Ps

Have a strategic plan on how you are going to approach finding out how your school operates. Focus on People, Processes and Passions – what truly motivates your school community. This will allow you to truly understand the challenges and key areas of development before you take them on. Continue to build a network of trusted peers; it can be a lonely world in that first year. Reach out to colleagues from across the country; we are the only people to truly understand your position.

Read Liespotting: Proven techniques to detect deception by Pamela Meyer and keep a copy on your desk in full view.

Ian Parry
Headteacher, Meols Cop High School, Southport, Merseyside