2023 Autumn Term

The know zone

  • It's all in the data
    Understanding national Key Stage 1 and 2 data patterns is important, says Tiffnie Harris. Here, she urges both primary and secondary leaders to use the data to plan ahead. More
  • Are school estates crumbling?
    Emma Harrison reflects on the challenges and wider implications associated with a deteriorating school estate. More
  • What counts?
    Kevin Gilmartin looks at which results will be published in this year's 16-18 performance tables and what impact this will have on the accountability of sixth form leaders in schools and colleges. More
  • Qualifications taken abroad
    Dr Anne Murdoch asks why is the government so inflexible about qualifications achieved abroad when the country needs skilled people? More
  • Recruit and retain
    Are you finding it difficult to recruit staff? Are there particular roles or subjects you are struggling to recruit for? Here ASCL members share their views. More
  • Back to school
    Headteacher Sharan Matharu says ASCL Council enables her to make a difference to education. Here, she shares her passion for Council, volunteering and heading back to the classroom to learn Punjabi. More
  • Happy holidays?
    Next time someone moans to you about all the holidays teachers get, just suggest they become one too and wait for the deafening silence, says Carl Smith. More
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Back to school

Headteacher Sharan Matharu says ASCL Council enables her to make a difference to education. Here, she shares her passion for Council, volunteering and heading back to the classroom to learn Punjabi.

Tell us about your role 

Iím privileged to be Headteacher at Kingsthorpe College in Northamptonshire, a mixed comprehensive school with just over 1,400 students. 

Why did you decide to become an ASCL Council member? 

Iím the Vice Chair of the Leadership and Governance Committee on ASCL Council. I became a Council member because I came into teaching to make a difference and Council allows me to do just that by sharing my views as a serving headteacher and influencing policy. It also keeps me grounded and humble, as you get to meet so many great leaders through Council and realise that the struggles you may be facing are not yours alone, and that there is a wealth of support and knowledge in our profession. 

Why did you decide to get into teaching/leadership? 

Teaching was all I ever wanted to do from a young age. As a child, I would have been classed as English as an additional language (EAL), pupil premium and summer born Ė but that didnít hold me back; our education system allows us to change our studentsí futures and thatís why I love my job. I slowly moved into leadership by working my way up from being head of department, assistant head, deputy head, associate headteacher and then into my dream job of headteacher. Iíve been very lucky along my journey to headship as Iíve worked with some incredible leaders who have modelled great practice and who are still there for me even though they have retired. 

How do you like to unwind? 

Itís difficult to unwind as a headteacher Ė you never know what the next phone call/ email will bring. However, I try to spend as much time as possible with my own children, even if it means watching a Marvel movie for the millionth time. I also go to my local Sikh Gurdwara on a Sunday morning, volunteering in the kitchen, cooking chapattis and washing dishes. I do this as it keeps me grounded and faith is important to me. In the last year, I enrolled onto a Punjabi class so that I could learn to read and write in my mother tongue. That was an experience in itself because the class was full of children and I was one of the oldest in the class Ė thankfully, my older brother also came with me, so I didnít feel too out of place. On the way to Punjabi class, I often get stopped by parents asking how old my children are who were coming to learn the language. They look surprised when I say I am learning. 

My other hobbies include jogging when I have time. I used to run and have taken part and completed three London marathons (including one virtually), even though I ended up having to walk 18 miles in one of them because I got injured eight miles in. 

Whatís your favourite book and your favourite film of all time and why? 

My favourite film is The Shawshank Redemption, but I also like any films featuring Tom Cruise. In terms of my favourite book, itís difficult to pick one as I love reading but two books that I have really enjoyed recently were Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes Ė a real tearjerker. I continue to read books to do with work and again picking a favourite is difficult, but one that resonated with me was Imperfect Leadership: A book for leaders who know they don't know it all by Steve Munby. 

What advice would you give to someone new to leadership? 

Be authentic. Model the behaviour you want to see in others. Nothing comes without hard work. Leadership is full of ups and downs so make sure you have an amazing support network that you can call upon when things are tough. But most importantly, remember why you do your job and think about the children and young people in your care; every decision you make is for their benefit. 

ASCL Council 

For more details on how you can become a Council member, please email ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch at Julie.mcculloch@ascl.org.uk