2024 Summer Term


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News and guidance

ASCL Influence

ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch on the surprise summer election and ASCL’s work with policymakers. Expand

ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch on the surprise summer election and ASCL’s work with policymakers.

So, the waiting game is over. The Prime Minister, to most people’s surprise, has announced that the General Election will take place on 4 July. At the time of writing, Parliament is about to be dissolved, and we are entering the pre-election period (what used to be known as Purdah). ministerial and departmental activity is restricted during this period while the parties campaign for re-election.

ASCL published its own election manifesto (www.ascl. org.uk/manifesto) back in the summer. The manifesto sets out the three areas where we believe any incoming government must focus its priorities: the recruitment and retention crisis, the widening disadvantage gap, and the ever-expanding expectations on schools and colleges. It sets out a series of policies we are urging all parties to commit to in their own manifestos and argues strongly that the new government must urgently re-invest in our crumbling education system.

Even before the election was formally announced, it was clearly dominating political discourse and thinking. On the one hand, ministers’ ever-diminishing time left in office was focusing their minds, making them determined to sort out any unfinished business. And Labour – as you might expect, given its lead in the polls – has been working overtime. While the party is being understandably cautious about revealing detailed plans at this point, there’s an enormous amount of work going on behind the scenes to turn its current fairly vague aspirations (such as those in its ‘opportunity mission’ (labour.org.uk/missions/opportunity) into

  • a set of manifesto commitments, and
  • a credible plan for government.

Urging politicians to take on your views

ASCL has continued to work over the last few months with both the current government and the opposition parties to encourage them to take on board our members’ views, both now and in the future.

Our small pay and conditions team has been burning the candle at both ends to put together incredibly comprehensive and compelling written submissions to the pay review bodies in both England and Wales. The team also supported General Secretary Pepe Di’Iasio, and the Chair of ASCL Council’s Conditions and Employment Committee, Jonathan Mellor, in their oral evidence session with the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) in April. We await the review bodies’ recommendations and the governments’ responses – the latter now unlikely to happen until after the election.

Our Deputy Director of Policy, Sara Tanton, has been representing the views of ASCL members on the DfE’s workload reduction taskforce. This was set up as one of the outcomes of the industrial action talks last year. While the recommendations of this group can only go so far in addressing the recruitment and retention crisis, we’re hopeful that they will have a beneficial impact on the current unsustainable workloads of so many school and college staff – assuming that the next government will continue this focus.

Our engagement with new HMCI Sir Martyn Oliver and his team continues to be positive. Sir Martyn held a private session with Council members at ASCL’s Annual Conference in March, and we will build on the points made there in our formal submission to Ofsted’s ‘Big Listen’.

You can read ASCL’s views on the future of inspection in our policy paper on the subject here www.ascl.org.uk/FutureOfInspection

We’ve also submitted detailed responses to a number of government consultations over the last few months, including on the Advanced British Standard (www.ascl.org.uk/ABSconsultation) (the Prime Minister’s ten-year plan for 16–19 education, should he be re-elected), and on the DfE’s draft guidance for schools and colleges in relation to gender-questioning children (www.ascl.org.uk/GenderQuestioning).

Influencing the future

Turning to the future, we continue to talk to all the major parties about what you – our members – are telling us are the biggest issues you face, and what you need any incoming government to focus on.

We’re very pleased with our increasingly close working relationship with the Labour education team. I have a standing meeting with the team every month, and we speak regularly in between. Work we’ve done with them over the last few months includes:

  • discussing in detail each of our 20 ‘quick wins’ for an incoming Labour government (www.ascl.org.uk/LabourQuickWins2024)
  • feeding into the emerging plans for Labour’s proposed Curriculum and Assessment Review
  • discussing how Labour could deliver on its commitment (in its ‘opportunity mission’) to introduce a continuing professional development (CPD) entitlement for all teachers
  • discussing what support new heads need, and what role there might be for government in that, as part of a broader briefing on recruitment and retention
  • exploring what Labour’s proposed school report card might look like

We’re also pleased to have been able to arrange a number of private sessions between Shadow Secretary of State for Education Bridget Phillipson and groups of ASCL members, including at the February meeting of ASCL Council, at our Annual Conference, and with leaders from the independent sector.

Finally, Julia Harnden, our Funding Specialist, is working on an updated version of the True Cost of Education report we first published in 2019. This will consider how the national funding formulae could be developed into a clear, consistent approach to 0–19 funding, based on a detailed analysis of what every child and young person needs to succeed.

It will include an agile response to the fluctuating needs of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the impact of the declining pupil population nationally, the particularly parlous and inconsistent state of post-16 funding, and a view on what broader children’s services schools and colleges should be expected to provide, and how much this will cost. Watch this space.

Whatever happens on 4 July, we’ll continue to ensure that the views of ASCL members are front and centre in policymakers’ thinking.


ASCL in the news

ASCL has been quoted widely in the media over the recent period on a range of issues. Expand

ASCL has been quoted widely in the media over the recent period on a range of issues.

We were pleased to welcome more than 20 members of the media to our Annual Conference in March, including representatives from the BBC, national newspapers, and sector press. The media suite was packed to the rafters as journalists reported on keynote speeches by ASCL President John Camp, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, and Shadow Secretary of State for Education Bridget Phillipson, among others (see speeches at www.ascl.org.uk/MediaCoverageAC2024).

New General Secretary Pepe Di’Iasio has been busy with interviews at the start of his tenure, setting out his vision for the association in sit-downs with TES (tinyurl.com/ymybjkmc), Schools Week (tinyurl.com/mvskdtec) and the i (tinyurl.com/5cse9pbd), as well as in Leader of course (www.ascl.org.uk/leader). Pepe has also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (vimeo.com/933645233) to speak about the impact that WhatsApp lowering its age limit from 16 to 13 will have on schools and young people.

ASCL’s policy team has continued to share its expertise on a broad range of issues. Director of Policy Julie McCulloch’s op-ed for Schools Week (tinyurl.com/3ecufdmw) tackled the thorny issue of government by expectation, and the shift towards using non-statutory guidance as opposed to legislation, while the latest article by ASCL SEND and Inclusion Specialist Margaret Mulholland for SecEd (tinyurl.com/2s4y9vx9) provided advice for schools on tackling the rise in online misogyny.


Ready for future challenges

ASCL is proud to represent school and college leaders from across the UK – to find out more, see Expand

ASCL is proud to represent school and college leaders from across the UK – to find out more, see www.ascl.org.uk/uk

In Scotland we’ve seen some turbulent times politically, with the first minister resigning and a former deputy first minister and education secretary succeeding to the post.

We are hopeful that after a very frustrating year when the reforms, started by the same John Swinney, were on hold, that his new appointment will get the momentum going again. In School Leaders Scotland (SLS), we support many of the reforms, particularly regarding the qualifications system as outlined in the Hayward Review, published nearly a year ago. The reform of Education Scotland and the separation of His Majesty’s Inspectorate from that body and the replacement of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) by a new body, are all still stalled due to a lack of vision and direction. Some of these areas need legislation through the Scottish Parliament and we have been promised that is coming, but when? The sense of frustration and the lack of empowerment are growing.

As the annual exam diet continues and we head towards the summer holidays, schools are starting the customary summer activities of sports days, award ceremonies and the change of timetable once the SQA exams are over.

Schools are coming to terms with the cuts and budgetary restrictions being imposed by local authorities across the country. In Glasgow, more than 400 teaching jobs will go over the next three years, a cut that SLS school leaders say will have immense detrimental impact on the lives of young people in one of Scotland’s most deprived authorities. This drastic situation is being replicated across Scotland.

Narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap is going to be an even bigger challenge for school leaders in the coming year. The challenges of poorer attendance, poorer behaviour, poorer support from parents to decisions made by school leaders, a lack of movement on the pay front from the employers, and continual attempts by local authorities to use the job-sizing toolkit to downgrade school leaders’ pay but increase their responsibilities, are some of the challenges we have on our plate for the coming year.

All that being said, our school leaders in Scotland will rise to that challenge, as always, but there may be some collateral damage on the way, not something we want to see happen in any way.


Make magic happen

Since April, we have a new Cabinet Secretary for Education in Wales – Lynne Neagle. Expand

Since April, we have a new Cabinet Secretary for Education in Wales – Lynne Neagle. We certainly welcome her to this new post and know that she’ll have a daunting portfolio to deal with. There are challenges in the system and that’s for sure.

So, if the Cabinet Secretary could wave a magic wand, what would ASCL Cymru ask for?

We desperately need a fully funded education system that demonstrates, in practical terms, the value our country places on its children. We do not want millions taken away from education to shore up the public transport system, such as happened some 18 months ago. While we’re at it, the labyrinthine funding system, which has 22 local authorities applying 22 different funding formulae, needs to be simplified. Transparent, it is not.

Let’s collapse the multitude of reforms in the system, many of which are a distraction to the core purpose of teaching and learning and focus on what really makes a difference. System coherence really does need to be achieved. There is just too much going on.

We’d like to see school improvement being inextricably linked to improving the quality of teacher instruction by building strong professional networks of schools and school communities. A model of professional empowerment and high-quality purposeful collaboration would move us in this direction.

We’d certainly ask that the new Cabinet Secretary resists calls for a punitive, top-down accountability system on the back of disappointing Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results. We do not need a low autonomy, low-trust system. This will make recruitment and retention even more challenging than it currently is. If we move in this direction, the system will feel as though it exists to blame and punish rather than to nurture and support.

Let’s hope that our new appointee has no need for a magic wand to make any of this happen. As the poet Shel Silverstein writes, “But all the magic I have known I’ve had to make myself.” Time to get to work.


Light at the end of the tunnel

A new Stormont Executive, a new education minister, and a 10. Expand

A new Stormont Executive, a new education minister, and a 10.4% pay increase for teachers. Surely things are looking brighter for education in Northern Ireland? Well, it’s complicated.

The pay award has been described as a restoration of pay and the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council (NITC) focus has now shifted to workload, specifically time budgets. School leaders will be required to produce individual time budgets for each member of staff going forward – a huge ask of already over-stretched senior leaders.

The end of action short of strike (ASOS) in April should have signalled a return to business as usual, but instead schools find themselves in an ambiguous ‘gradual return to normal working practices’, which begs the question: what will normal working practices now be?

A generation of teachers have never been part of an inspection – the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) has been blocked since 2017 due to action short of strike. There’s now a new inspection framework to be rolled out. The same conditions have led to reduced assessment and monitoring, and with Covid in the mix, this summer at last represents a final return to pre-pandemic standards for public examinations.

Funding is not equivalent per pupil with the other UK jurisdictions, many schools are operating in deficits and the latest proposed budget from the Executive leaves education hundreds of millions of pounds short.

So, is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Well, the good news is at least we now have a minister in place to make decisions, difficult as they may be. There’s also been a new CEO appointed to the Education Authority, tasked with addressing the huge concerns with that organisation. And in the Independent Review of Education, we have many solutions to problems – we now need courageous leadership to implement them.


Are you retiring? Join as an Associate member

Continue to be part of our great community when you retire from a school or college leadership role with ASCL Associate membership. Expand

Continue to be part of our great community when you retire from a school or college leadership role with ASCL Associate membership. On retiring from school or college leadership roles, many ASCL members transfer their membership to ASCL Associates. ASCL Associate membership offers the perfect way to remain connected to and informed about education leadership. It also provides new opportunities to build your community and to get involved in supporting serving school and college leaders.

ASCL Associate membership means that you can continue to receive ASCL publications such as our online Leader magazine and email news updates and have access to website resources. Plus, you’ll find that Associate membership comes with additional benefits and new opportunities through the exclusive magazine Associates News, social activities, the ASCL Associates Committee, volunteering, and chairing our popular planning for retirement events.


Transform old hardware with ChromeOS Flex

Secure and equitable access to technology is fundamental to digitising education. Expand

Secure and equitable access to technology is fundamental to digitising education. The DfE’s provision during the pandemic increased access to devices for staff and students but, unfortunately, many of these devices are now too slow to facilitate learning or can no longer run anti-virus software. ChromeOS Flex reinvigorates old Windows laptops, desktops and Macs into fast and secure devices running ChromeOS, a cloud-based operating system.

  • Ensure lessons aren’t delayed: With ChromeOS, updates happen in the background, so lessons aren’t delayed by old devices taking time to load or running software updates mid-task.
  • Update to a secure cloud system: Ransomware files are automatically blocked by ChromeOS, meaning your institution’s data is protected even if someone tries to open an infected file.
  • Reduce e-waste: Converting old devices with ChromeOS Flex extends their life span and reduces e-waste, and data is stored in Google’s carbon-neutral data centres.
  • Manage your devices centrally: ChromeOS Flex devices can be centrally managed on the Google for Education Admin Console by purchasing a Chrome Education Upgrade licence. With a few clicks, staff can deploy group or school-wide settings for safe browsing, locking and tracking lost or stolen devices, in addition to limiting web access during standardised digital tests.

ChromeOS Flex is simple to use with a bootable ChromeOS Flex USB drive. A free pre-loaded ChromeOS Flex USB key can be obtained from Google for Education by completing this form: tinyurl.com/mpdzaa6j – available to the first 25 to sign up.


ASCL Benevolent Fund: We're here for you

The ASCL Benevolent Fund ( Expand

The ASCL Benevolent Fund (ABF) is an important element in the association’s policy of providing protection and care for all members, past and present, and their dependants.

While most members, active and in post, are unlikely to need help, a serious accident, redundancy, chronic illness or disability can change the situation quite traumatically. Whether it is a short-term financial crisis or a long-term problem, the fund stands ready to help. If you know someone who may benefit from the fund or if you think you would benefit yourself, please call 0116 299 1122 or find out more at www.ascl.org.uk/benevolentfund


Equality, diversity and inclusion

ASCL is committed to supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion ( Expand

ASCL is committed to supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) among school, college and trust leaders, and in our own organisation. Our Leaders’ Networks, focused on ethnic diversity, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender plus (LGBT+) and women leaders, offer a safe space for members in these groups to support and empower one another, and to raise awareness of issues particularly affecting these groups. Please visit their individual pages via the links below to find out more:

To join any of our leaders’ networks and for an invitation to the next meeting, please email CorporateAdmin@ascl.org.uk indicating the network/s you would like to join.


The use of AI and IP

The use of copyrighted material to train artificial intelligence ( Expand

The use of copyrighted material to train artificial intelligence (AI) has prompted legal challenges within the intellectual property (IP) sector. The case of Getty Images v Stability AI is an example of active litigation where Getty Images has alleged unlawful use of copyrighted materials for training AI to generate their own images without a licence. This could have significant implications for how copyright is licensed in the future, which is a concern for academies licensing their content or using materials from other parties.

This ongoing litigation underlines the importance of IP rights and the potential consequences of infringement. Schools and colleges need to be vigilant about how they acquire and use content, ensuring they have the right to use it. This awareness can help prevent legal issues and the associated financial and reputational damage.

The case of Getty Images v Stability AI should prompt schools and colleges to review their content creation and use of AI. They may need to review their internal staff guidelines, online policies, and AI policies to issue clear guidance to staff about the risks associated with using AI, particularly where staff members use it to generate materials that the school or college then licences itself.


Adding value

In the ever-changing landscape of education, FlashAcademy® has evolved to become a beacon of innovation in EAL ( Expand

Try innovative language app for free

In the ever-changing landscape of education, FlashAcademy® has evolved to become a beacon of innovation in EAL (English as an Additional Language) teaching. The learning app caters to a diverse audience, fostering an inclusive environment where every student, regardless of their language background, can thrive.

Audrey Davies, a modern foreign languages (MFL) teacher at Lichfield Cathedral School, shared the importance of empowering EAL students, “FlashAcademy® offers access to the mother tongue throughout the curriculum and is breaking the barriers. Language is not just a language. It’s not just words. It’s culture.”

Free trial offer

We invite you to explore the distinctive features of FlashAcademy® and discover the profound impact it has on English language learning outcomes. Access your free trial to witness how it has become an indispensable asset in the daily lives of both teachers and students.


Academy conversion support grant

Changes to the academy conversion support grant ( Expand

Changes to the academy conversion support grant (ACSG) are due to take place from 1 September 2024. Most notably, maintained mainstream schools that apply to convert to academy status will only be eligible for the £25,000 conversion support grant if they are joining an academy trust in a group with at least two other schools. The schools must also be approved by the relevant regional director at the same time.

The government’s intention is to encourage schools to join larger multi-academy trusts (MATs), rather than converting to standalone academies or small MATs with just two schools. The ambition is for larger MATs to provide greater support and resources to schools, leading to improved pupil outcomes.

However, sector stakeholders have concerns about barriers for schools who wish to convert but are unable to find suitable MATs to join, particularly in rural areas with fewer existing MATs. There is also a risk that schools will seek to convert before the changes take effect in September, leading to a spike in conversions and limited resource to process those conversions. The DfE has not responded to these concerns, and it remains to be seen whether the changes will achieve the government’s ambition to encourage the development of larger, stronger MATs.


SEND capacity

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator ( Expand

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) has recently highlighted a growing trend of non-compliance from schools when they are named on a child’s education, health and care plan (EHCP). However, it is important to examine schools’ reasons for non-compliance more closely in the context of what has been described as a ‘capacity crisis’ with respect to special educational needs.

Educational provision is a crucial element of an EHCP, and the named school is responsible for admitting and supporting that pupil. Schools can object to being named on a plan during consultation, but, once named, they have a legal obligation to admit that child.

Local authorities are expected to provide additional resources to schools where a pupil requires a particularly high level of support. However, with a significant increase in children being assessed as having special educational needs, schools and local authorities often face a shortfall in financial support and/or specialist resources. A lack of support is a significant concern for schools when failing to meet a child’s needs and may result in that child, other children, or staff being unsafe in school. Non-compliance with an EHCP, therefore, is often a last resort for schools that cannot educate a pupil safely without additional resources.

Although OSA’s comments reveal one side of the picture, we must consider the interconnected issues at play and examine how the system as a whole can expand its capacity to support every pupil in accessing education.


Changing jobs in September?

If so, make sure you don’t miss out on the latest information and tell us of any change in job title, school/college address, home address and email. Expand

If so, make sure you don’t miss out on the latest information and tell us of any change in job title, school/college address, home address and email. You can change your personal information online by simply logging in to your account (www.ascl.org.uk/login). Ensuring that we have your most up-to-date details will enable us to help you quicker should you need to contact us for support. It will also enable us to ensure that you receive all your member benefits.


Latest changes to employment rights

The following changes were made to employment rights in April 2024: Expand

The following changes were made to employment rights in April 2024:

  • Carer’s Leave Regulation 2024 This new regulation entitles employees to take one week’s unpaid leave in any 12-month period for the purpose of providing or arranging care for a dependant with a long-term care need.
  • Family leave changes There are extended protections against redundancy that is connected to family leave. The new protections mean that employees on family leave have priority in respect of being offered a suitable alternative role. The extended protections apply as follows:
  • Pregnancy and maternity leave Protection begins when the employee tells their employer they are pregnant and continues from the first day of the expected week of childbirth (or the date of the birth) for a period of 18 months. If an employee has a miscarriage, the protections will apply two weeks after the date the pregnancy ends.
  • Adoption leave The protections apply for an 18-month period from the date the child is placed with the employee for adoption.
  • Shared parental leave If the employee has taken more than six consecutive weeks of shared parental leave (and has not taken maternity or adoption leave), the extended protection ends 18 months after the date of birth or the date the child was placed for adoption.
  • Flexible working update Flexible working is now a day one right, and employees no longer need 26 weeks of service to request changes. Further changes are expected for summer 2024, which include allowing employees to make two requests in any 12-month period (previously it was one request in the same period).