2024 Spring Term


  • The Greatest Job in Education
    As Geoff Barton bids farewell, he reflects on his seven years as General Secretary, thanking members for their support for what he says has been the greatest job in education - serving you. More
  • The Next Chapter
    ASCL General Secretary Designate Pepe Di'Iasio is immensely proud to represent members across the UK and in all sectors of education. Here he sets out his plans for the future of the association. More
  • A lasting legacy
    As ASCL's oldest and one of its longest-standing members, 94 year-old past president Geoff Goodall's encounter with an interviewer set him on a path that would see him at the forefront of education reform, and a career that spanned over five decades. Here, he talks to Dorothy Lepkowska. More
  • ASCL Women Trailblazers
    Chair of ASCL's Women Leaders' Network Becky Arnold reflects on the inspirational and vital role women have played throughout ASCL's 150-year history. More
  • Perfect Match
    Proud ASCL member and Senior Deputy Headteacher Helen Wakefield takes readers through her own changing relationship with trade unions. More
Bookmark and Share

The Next Chapter

ASCL General Secretary Designate Pepe Di'Iasio is immensely proud to represent members across the UK and in all sectors of education. Here he sets out his plans for the future of the association.

It is a great honour to have been appointed to succeed Geoff Barton as General Secretary of ASCL from April this year, and to lead our superb team across the UK in representing and supporting our members. I am delighted to have this opportunity to set out a little about my thinking on the future of our association. But first, a few words about Geoff. 

Headteacher of the nation 

Geoff has led ASCL over the past seven years through amazingly challenging times with integrity and passion, always reflecting ASCL’s vision to speak on behalf of members and act on behalf of children and young people. 

It has been a time of fast-changing challenges across the educational landscape and political turbulence, which has seen eight education secretaries in office since Geoff became General Secretary in 2017. 

Throughout, Geoff has provided a strong and consistent voice for the education sector, arguing powerfully for action to address the shortage of funding and teachers caused by a decade of government under-investment. 

He has fought for fairer accountability, championed the creative arts and shone a light on the plight of ‘the forgotten third’ of young people who each year finish secondary school without achieving a standard pass in GCSE English and maths (www.ascl.org.uk/forgottenthird). Perhaps his greatest legacy is how he spoke on behalf of education leaders during the Covid pandemic. He will be remembered by many as ‘the headteacher of the nation’ – supporting school and college leaders through a period of uncertainty and bringing clarity and confidence to our profession. 

Listening to you 

He will be a hard act to follow. And my first step in endeavouring to do that will be for me to listen to you, our 25,000 members. 

ASCL is a ‘broad church’. We’re proud to represent business leaders, trust leaders and all members of senior leadership teams; members in special schools, alternative provision, colleges and mainstream schools; in the independent and state sectors; and in Wales, Northern Ireland, England and – north of the border – through our affiliation with School Leaders Scotland (SLS). Wherever you are, whatever your role, I want to hear from as many of you as possible about the challenges you face and how ASCL can best represent you. 

I will ensure that your priorities are our priorities, and I will work with our excellent and experienced ASCL team to develop solutions and sensible strategies to address these critical issues. 

Investing in our children’s future 

An absolute prerequisite of our plans for the future will be to continue to press for the vital investment upon which the education system relies – sufficient funding and teachers – and for an accountability system that is fairer and more proportionate. I sense that the tide is turning on all these issues – that there is a growing consensus that we cannot continue to struggle on with these deficiencies in the future. 

There is a long way to go yet, and the economic circumstances are not good. But this year is a time of change with a general election on the horizon, as well as a change of leadership at Ofsted. I do believe that whichever party or parties form the next government there will have to be a realisation that the education sector must be better resourced and better treated than it has been over the past 14 years. Certainly, I can guarantee our members that ASCL will be in the vanguard of arguing for the changes that are so clearly needed. Nothing is more important. 

A united front 

To achieve those objectives we must continue with and build further on the collaborative work with other organisations in the education sector that, I believe, has been such a strength in recent years. When we provide a united front to policymakers, our voice is all the more powerful. This is a time for us to come together to help shape our destiny and ensure that we create a brighter future on behalf of children and young people and also for our entire profession. As the great business thinker Peter Drucker said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” 

Culture change 

Another part of a better future is ensuring that we promote a cultural change in how working in schools and colleges is publicly portrayed and perceived. For far too long our profession has been ‘talked down’ by sections of the media, and some of our politicians and commentators. 

Too often we have seen a negative discourse that sets parents against professionals and actively encourages them to challenge and complain. This is at a time when school and college leaders and staff are looking to respond and resolve ever-more challenging societal situations in the best interests of young people, families and their wider communities. What they need is solidarity and support. 

I intend to work tirelessly to positively promote the work of our profession and do all that we can to ensure that we restore and rebuild the respect and esteem in which our communities perceive education. 

And I am undertaking all of this with a sense of optimism. It is optimism that is based on my experience of working with young people and the sense of positivity that work brings to us across all our settings. Education has a unique power to inspire and energise, and it is this energy that we need to harness in order to change the conversation. 

Shaping the future 

It is fitting that this year is the 150th anniversary of our association. I am the latest in a long line of leaders – in the various incarnations of ASCL over that time – all of whom have faced the challenges of their day. We’re remembering them this year as part of our anniversary celebrations. 

They helped to shape ASCL as it is today – a strong, principled and inclusive trade union and professional association. I feel incredibly proud to be in a position where I can lead such a highly regarded and hugely respected organisation, and I am looking forward to helping shape the next part of ASCL’s history 

Pepe Di’Iasio
Headteacher at Wales High School in Rotherham and ASCL General Secretary Designate

Pepe DiIasio FEATURE.png