Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Leaders’ letters

Thank you for rising to the challenge

Congratulations and thanks to John Dunford and other ASCL colleagues for helping to bring about the demise of these wretched Key Stage 3 tests.

I wonder how much these tests have cost, in terms of money and of diverting pupils from a more sensible curriculum and approach. That said, please let's keep the Key Stage 2 SATs: they're the baseline for the CVA which allows this National Challenge school to show that we're not 'failing' (and thanks again, colleagues, for your tenacious defence of schools like this - second highest improvement in GCSE results in Kent, but still in National Challenge...)

Talking of which, we still have not heard about the promised National Challenge resources. It's hard to plan when you don't know what you're planning with. My compliments again to all of you at HQ.

Graham Smith, head of Tunbridge Wells High School, Kent

Don't take CVA scores out of context

I was disappointed to read the letter in the September Leader questioning the value of the CVA measure and of non-academic subjects. As someone who has spent his entire working life with students who have not been able to access the traditional exam process, it is disappointing to note his comments on a system that now gives all students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability and skills, and their contribution to a school's or college's success can also be recognised.

The CVA measure is equally important and we should be looking across the whole range of measures rather than selecting one.

One matter I do agree with the writer. Having reached the level to gain second specialism to only be told that the bar had now been raised after the event so to speak was not only galling in the extreme but also does not take into account how effective the school has been in its first specialism other than in exam results.

What about the work with schools, staff development and the community that the school serves?

Stephen Foster, assistant principal of Hemsworth Arts and Community College, Pontefract

Don't forget, if you want to get ahead...

I read with great interest the article 'Know your Strengths' (September 2008). The individual articles reminded me of the importance of being the best that we can be all of the time, not just in front of a big audience at the high profile occasions but even when doing something that we might perceive as less important, even trivial. I believe it is often these things that sets a leader apart.

A former deputy head colleague once told me to always "do the little things well". That, to me, is at the core of all good leadership because it communicates a tremendous sense of passion and duty in a very understated manner and this is where hearts and minds are won over and respect is gained.

As we progress up the ladder of promotion we are all in danger of forgetting our roots and remembering the things that were important to us when we first started out - that short handwritten note to recognise an achievement, visiting a play or orchestra rehearsal or making the effort to remember a significant event with a quick phone call.

These are the sorts of tasks that don't win huge accolades and often get pushed to the bottom of a to do list. To many, however, they motivate and encourage the next generation of leaders to aspire to the top of their profession.

Delyth Draper, head of house at Wellington College, Berkshire

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