2020 Summer Term

The know zone

  • Care-takers
    Cait Cooper from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families highlights four ways school and college leaders can support staff wellbeing. More
  • Primary focus
    Throughout the lockdown period, ASCL's engagement with civil servants at the DfE and with other stakeholders has continued. Tiffnie Harris provides an update on some of the key issues affecting the primary education sector. More
  • Lessons learned
    Hayley Dunn highlights the lessons learned from implementing emergency plans in response to the current health crisis. More
  • September's Sixth Form
    As schools and colleges plan for their new cohort of sixth form students in September, Kevin Gilmartin examines the key areas that will impact on provision. In a time of such uncertainty, what should schools and colleges prepare for? More
  • A helping hand for further education
    Anne Murdoch highlights a new ASCL and AoC mentoring scheme to help develop personal resilience among college leaders and to empower them when faced with difficult circumstances. More
  • Weather the storm
    Before schools began to open more widely, we asked members to share their experience of the health crisis and here's what they had to say. More
  • Hitting the right note
    Principal Andrew Parkin joined ASCL Council five years ago and is a member of the Funding Committee. Here he tells us about his dedication to education and his love for music and singing. More
  • Rites of passage
    Seasons, traditions and rituals are important markers in our development as humans, but the lockdown means that - for some of our young people - the rhythms of life will skip a beat. More
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Principal Andrew Parkin joined ASCL Council five years ago and is a member of the Funding Committee. Here he tells us about his dedication to education and his love for music and singing.

Hitting the right note

Tell us about your college

I am principal of St Dominic’s Sixth Form College in Harrow on the Hill, London. We are a post-16 provider with 1,330 students. There has been an education establishment on the site since 1879 when the Dominican Sisters founded a girls’ independent school that remained open until 1978. In 1979, the Sisters moved out, the school closed and the site was given to the Archdiocese of Westminster. It was then that St Dominic’s Sixth Form College was opened by the then Cardinal, Basil Hume.

We are a vibrant and diverse community, typical of London, with academic, high-performing students. We are a confidently Catholic college but within a multi-faith setting. Our mission is to educate academically, spiritually and personally to the highest level.

Tell us about your role on ASCL Council

I have been a Council member for five years and I am currently a member of the Funding Committee and was previously vice-chair of the Post-16 Committee. I really enjoy being a Council member as it keeps me in touch with the education sector as a whole and has enabled me to make some really strong professional connections over time. It is a professional working group that provides us with space and time for decision making on policy and the best ways we, as leaders, can support our staff, students and wider communities.

Funding has been a significant issue for the post-16 sector over the last five years, as it has been for education as a whole. I have really enjoyed seeing the influence that ASCL has had on this debate, particularly concerning fair funding, and I hold in high regard the work of Julia Harnden as our ASCL Funding Specialist. She does an outstanding job representing the profession at meetings with officials in the DfE.

Why did you decide to get into teaching/leadership?

I never wanted to do anything other than be a teacher and I knew that one day I wanted to run my own school. I attended St John’s RC Comprehensive School in Bishop Auckland and was taught by really fantastic teachers who inspired me to want to be like them. My headteacher was Brian Jones and he told me that teaching was the best job in the world and he has been absolutely right.

How do you like to unwind?

I am a musician and a singer and I am a member of the BBC Symphony Chorus in London and really love being part of this choir. The highlight of our performing year is the annual BBC Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall and we sing the opening and closing night concerts, which are always fantastic. It is a very professional, highly skilled, semi-professional group (auditions are every three years) and being a member means that, for three hours, twice a week I have to turn my phone off, which is great!

What’s your favourite book and your favourite film of all time?

I love a good crime novel and have been reading the Peter James’s ‘Dead’ series for the last ten years or so – they are all set in Brighton and the characters are now, I feel, like extended family members! My favourite film is Out of Africa – the score and cinematography work so beautifully together.

Tell us an interesting fact about you

I was chair of the BBC Chorus for six years from 2011 to 2017 and during that time, I was fortunate enough to meet some of the world’s greatest musicians – Bryn Terfel, Nicola Benedetti, Marin Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis and the fabulous American Soprano, Joyce DiDonato. At the 2012 Last Night of the Proms, a number of the Olympic gold medallists attended the performance and I was very fortunate to meet them all at the after-concert party, which was really inspiring.

What advice would you give to someone new to leadership?

Be a good listener and adhere to what my mam always taught me, “See all and say nothing” – there is always someone ready to mis-quote you.

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

We are particularly keen to encourage people from currently under-represented groups including women and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, to put themselves forward. n For further information see www.ascl.org.uk/council