Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

A supportive network

With uncertain times ahead, it is more important than ever that ASCL members look to each other, locally and nationally, for sustainable support, says John Morgan.

The school year is rushing past - faster than the last one no doubt. Apart from the everyday firefighting, most school and college leaders will now have their eyes on the future.

Curriculum and staffing analyses done, it's time to fill the gaps, stifling the irritation at the cost of advertising and keeping fingers crossed that someone, somewhere still wants to teach physics or lead an English department.

Finance departments will have politely (?) informed staff that no more orders can be processed before the year end and are holding their breath, awaiting news of next year's budget. In year three of a three-year cycle, we already have a clear idea what it should bring, but will it really be no worse than this year? Most doubt it.

For many ASCL members, planning for the future means much more than these traditional challenges, assuming that it is not your own retirement that you are planning. There could be a federation or trust to set up. Building Schools for the Future may be changing not just the building but the size and nature of the school. Your sixth form college could be returning to the local authority fold, for better or worse.

Top of the priority list for any leader is the importance of a vision and the ability to move strategically towards it. Across 11-19, we have greater curriculum freedom than we have had for a generation - a first chance for many young leaders to experience the joy of imaginative curriculum planning, matched to students' needs. And we have a suite of qualifications that should be more than enough to accredit anyone's learning.

But what leadership team can feel fully confident in planning strategically during the spring of 2010? There is a general election on the way and education debate - promise and threat - is to the fore. We might now officially be out of recession but the coming spending review will see us all paying for getting into it in the first place.

This is another new experience for young leaders, managing a shrinking budget - it's not fun. What will happen to the curriculum, diplomas, school organisation, accountability, funding?

Amongst this maelstrom of temporary uncertainty, let me suggest a haven of sustainable support. This spring let us see the ASCL branches blossom. Meeting locally or regionally as ASCL members has never been more important. Those who still do it regularly know what I mean.

I attended such a meeting recently, 20 members from all categories - heads, deputies, assistant heads, and business managers; state and independent - discussing many of the concerns above and valuing the mutual support.

I also joined another branch which was meeting for the first time in a while, prompted by frustration with their LA. They were keen to hear how ASCL works and how we listen to our members. They have set themselves a target of 40 at their next meeting, with a full range of members, not just heads. I hope to be there, along with their regional officer.

Wherever branches are meeting, I would be really pleased to join you, to speak or just to listen. Whatever happens at the ballot box, ASCL will still be there to support you.

John Morgan

© 2017 Association of School and College Leaders