Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

A leading man...

John Morgan looks back on the two most memorable occurances during his year as ASCL president and pays tribute to John Dunford's leadership of ASCL, including his prowess on the dancefloor.

Am I really writing my final piece as president of ASCL already? Time certainly does fly when you are having fun. The year has been all I had hoped it would be; a wonderful opportunity to lead in a different context; a genuine pleasure to meet and to represent ASCL members; a real joy to work alongside our staff, both at headquarters in Leicester and across the country.

All past presidents have been able to write a similar reflection at the end of their year but few have also been able to reflect on two further special occurrences.

Firstly, there has been the change of government. I feel slightly guilty at writing anything more about that, as it has taken up so much space in newsprint, emails, blogs, Twitter, television and radio.

We now have a coalition claiming to be guided by three principles; freedom, fairness and responsibility. During ASCL Council in June we debated all aspects of the known coalition policies to provide a steer to the general secretary, officers and staff when talking with ministers and civil servants.

As all ASCL members must be doing, we first had to get over the frustration at having so little detail, apart from the headlines, with which to work. However, the most important outcome at this stage was to feed their key principles back, slightly re-phrased; freedom is welcome provided it is applied fairly and with responsibility. I hope all members agree and understand what Council means by this.

Secondly, this year sees the end of John Dunford's 12 years as ASCL general secretary. Watching John on the dancefloor after the farewell dinner held during Council, one could only think that this man still has far too much energy to retire. The good news for all of us in education, learners and leaders, is that he is simply changing direction. Slowing down? I very much doubt it, whatever he says.

What we can all be grateful for is that his forensically clear-thinking mind will continue to be applied to the cause of improving the understanding of leadership of learning, his tireless and passionate energies will remain focused on improving the lot of young people - as well as cooking, gardening, drinking good wine, golf, hill-walking, tweeting, travel, his family and maybe, back to his roots with a bit of maths!

During John's 12 years as our general secretary, membership has almost doubled. The association has become much more inclusive and now we can genuinely say that we represent the voice of all school and college leaders.

John's leadership has ensured that in the corridors of Whitehall it is ASCL's voice, always constructive even when criticising, that is listened to with most interest. John's leadership has also ensured that the association itself has evolved in order to meet the ever-growing personal and professional needs of our members, providing a service second to none.

Either one of these achievements would have been sufficient for most but, in addition - and what I feel has made him such a special person in the eyes of members the length and breadth of the country - is that he seems to know and be able to name every one of us, whether at a branch meeting in Plymouth or a regional meeting in Newcastle, a conference in Belfast or a seminar in Llandrindod Wells.

On behalf of all your ASCL family, thank you John.

John Morgan

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