The weighty issues...
One of the first changes that I have had to come to terms with as ASCL president is that my working life is no longer regulated by the sound of the bell. Instead it is the railway timetable that holds sway.
It's the same with food; the routine is no longer a quick snack at lunch from the school canteen followed late in evening by a meal with my wife, Susan, when we have both made it home from school.
Now lunch could be a full conference spread or a paltry few nibbles; a station sandwich or a pre-meeting biscuit. The evening meal is inevitably rather more fulsome than I would be eating during the week at home.
Three months into the role, you now have half a stone more president than you started with!
I'm not complaining, completely the opposite. These changes to one's routine are trivial and usually quite fun (ask me again next July) compared to the challenges and changes that most members are facing.
Our sixth form college members will be wondering what it will feel like to be 'commissioned' by the local authority; our independent members will be hoping that the economic situation will improve before too many parents feel the pinch.
Our fastest growing group of members, business managers, will be preparing, after a decade of financial growth, to manage a shrinking pot - a challenge that will require empathetic interpersonal skills as well as astute financial ones.
Of course everyone is wondering what to expect after the election and feeling unsettled by the ever-increasing proclamations from all parties, too few of which contain the praise which our profession so richly deserves the unprecedented improvements of recent years.
There is no way better to get a handle on these changes than to attend one of ASCL's regional information conferences. I never missed them as a head and it's even better from the other side, introducing the unique expertise of our specialists - this year Keith Dennis, Malcolm Trobe and the ageless Stephen Szemerenyi - as they explain with great clarity and calmness the latest news on inspection, funding and pay and conditions.
Add to this our general secretary's ever-popular jaunt through the current policy issues and there can be no better way to be sure that you and your institution are on the right track.
Meeting before each conference with the regional branch secretaries, there is no doubt where the major concerns are coming from this year, and it's not rarely cover. There are one or two niggles in this area, with the major problem so far being the unhappiness of the teaching staff as they realise the realities of implementing rarely cover.
At every meeting top of the bill of concerns has been Building Schools for the Future. It's not what the new building might look like, nor even managed ICT.
It is the 'transformational' aspects of BSF. The reality of local politics, amalgamations and closures, academy sponsors, federations and the huge amount of leadership time and capacity that planning takes is proving very unsettling for many members and keeping our regional and field officers fully occupied on their behalf.
Good luck to you all, and remember to find time to eat!
Please contact me at email@example.com
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