2023 Autumn Term


  • End Child Poverty
    Geoff Barton says that the next government must tackle child poverty in order to give children and young people an equal chance to thrive. More
  • Interconnected Leadership
    Trust CEO John Camp OBE says becoming ASCL President is one of the proudest moments of his career. Here, he shares his love of education and his mission to ensure that interconnection is at the heart of his year in office. More
  • Leading AI in education
    Rob Robson explores the ethics and practical implications that school, college and trust leaders should consider so that artificial intelligence (AI) can be used safely and well in their institutions. More
  • Essential support for you
    Taking care of you and your best interests is at the heart of everything we do. Here, ASCL's Richard Tanton provides an overview of what has been another busy year for his team, advising and representing leaders through challenging times. More
  • Cost-of-living Impact
    Research Manager Megan Lucas highlights the devastating impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on school recruitment and retention. More
  • Send Funding: Crisis Point
    ASCL's Julia Harnden and Margaret Mulholland urge the Chancellor to do the right thing in his Autumn Statement by pledging sufficient funding for some of our most vulnerable children. More
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Interconnected Leadership

Trust CEO John Camp OBE says becoming ASCL President is one of the proudest moments of his career. Here, he shares his love of education and his mission to ensure that interconnection is at the heart of his year in office

I began my teaching career in 1991 in Rotherhithe, South East London in a school that was led by a superb headteacher, Norna Moses. It was the conversations I had with Norna that gave me the confidence to seize opportunities as they arose and take on responsibility beyond the classroom. Norna recruited me as a probationary teacher and appointed me to my first leadership positions. I became a deputy head in 2001 and a headteacher in 2008. Over the next seven years, I was fortunate to work with our local authority to build a soft federation of seven maintained schools focused on collaboration for school improvement – it is this group that then formed the muti-academy trust of which I am now CEO. 

I loved school as a child, and I loved learning. Teachers were heroes to me. It is because of the teachers who taught me that I am here today. From Gill Dove, my primary teacher who nurtured my love of all things creative, my A level sociology teacher Judith Mackin who developed my critical thinking, to my sixth form tutor who was instrumental in me going to university despite me planning to leave education at 18, I am eternally grateful to them. 

I feel incredibly fortunate to be leading a trust of schools focused on providing the very best education for all children. Children are amazing. Their energy and vibrancy for life is infectious and keeps my own perspective on the future an optimistic one. It is a great honour to serve communities and to help ensure they have a great school at their heart – I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing. Education is a beautiful thing. Its potential to empower and liberate keeps me focused on ensuring we meet the needs of all learners and especially those who face barriers to access and engagement – this energises me. 

Humble beginnings 

My drive and ambitions are anchored in my beginnings. My mum had left school at the age of 14 despite passing the 11 plus, because the imperative in her family was to earn a wage to support the family income. She was raised with five siblings in a two-roomed flat in a local authority block and shared a toilet and washroom facilities with three other families. 

I think her sense of frustration at not being able to go further in education manifested itself in a commitment to my own education. She made it clear that I should do well, and I felt a deep sense of responsibility to ensure I did. But the difference for me was that the state provided additional resource to help me on the journey and mitigate the impact of living in a low-income household. I received free school meals, school uniform grants, school journey grants and a sixth form grant. This made a huge difference – it ensured that continuing in education was not a question of family versus school and enabled the two spheres of my life to coexist without compromising either one. It is this difference between my mum’s experience and mine that drives me today. 

Children themselves are not disadvantaged. They are disadvantaged by context and context can be shaped; it just takes political will, ambitious policymaking and resource. We will not close the disadvantage gap in schools alone. The disadvantage gap requires a system response – disadvantage is an outcome of context not a personal choice or characteristic. 

Dream team 

I lead as a part of a team – it is every member of the team that powers our vision and realises our aspirations for young people. In leadership, I Trust CEO John Camp OBE says becoming ASCL President is one of the proudest moments of his career. Here, he shares his love of education and his mission to ensure that interconnection is at the heart of his year in office. ASCL President have always been driven by a determination to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education and that we nurture the belief in each child that they can learn, thrive and be positive agents of change in the world. I aim to be the leader people need me to be – to find and nurture talent in others and give people the space to be. 

In the words of Apple’s Steve Jobs, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” I am lucky to work in a group of schools that have the most amazing teams of people who realise the vision we have for children every day. Our vision is for an education that has depth and breadth, and is intellectually, emotionally and physically rewarding so that young people thrive and develop the confidence to shape the world around them. 

Making connections 

I joined ASCL when it opened up to primary members and was motivated by the work it was doing on the first blueprint (www.ascl.org.uk/ASCLBlueprint2015). ASCL’s vision for the future was inspiring and I could see that it was helping to shape the system and support leaders in taking control. Becoming ASCL President is one of the proudest moments of my career. I feel a sense of immense responsibility in representing nearly 25,000 ASCL members from across education. My theme for the year is focused on interconnection:

  • connection between the past and the present so that we can better shape the future
  • connection across the whole of ASCL UK to build on our collective strengths
  • connection across sectors so that the unique sector challenges are understood and elevated
  • connection beyond education; as I firmly believe that schools alone cannot close the disadvantaged gap, it requires a system response 

Diversity is our strength. It is the strength of our system, and it is the strength of ASCL. All voices contributing to the national conversation is the most effective way of ensuring policy and strategy have impact and address the challenges that transcend sectors. 

For more about John’s plans as ASCL President, watch this short video www.ascl.org.uk/president Hear from John at our Annual Conference in March – book your place at www.ascl.org.uk/annualconference 

John Camp OBE
ASCL President 2023/24