Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Leading teams

A group of people

I hope that members have returned to their schools and colleges refreshed after the summer holiday and that the term has started well.

I am looking forward to visiting many branches this year and hearing not only the concerns that members wish ASCL to address, but also the exciting and innovative ideas they are introducing in schools and colleges.

In schools, the restructuring brought about by TLRs has led to a number of interesting models of leadership teams, many with a clear emphasis on leadership by a team, not any one individual.

The importance of the leadership team was a key strand in Sue Kirkham's theme last year of 'sustainable leadership' and was further emphasised in Robert Hill's excellent book Leadership that Lasts.

Leading teams

This year I want to build on that work; I have therefore selected 'leading teams' as my theme.

I am regularly disappointed by politicians and civil servants who still fail to acknowledge that, in the complex world of running an educational establishment, a strong team, not one individual, is essential.

The media are frequently no better. Only this week, I heard someone on the BBC use the term 'headmasters' to cover all school leaders.

It was refreshing then to hear Susan Lewis, HMCI for Education and Training in Wales, state recently: 'Leading schools into the future cannot be the task of any one individual. What we need are more leaders in our schools - not just one.

'We need people across the piece with vision, energy, drive and commitment who can encourage, motivate and develop those around them. Good leadership can set free the potential that is in everyone.'

I hope that Christine Gilbert will be giving the same message when she takes up her post as HMCI in England this October.

The review of school leadership commissioned by the DfES will be important to the future direction for leadership teams and we are expecting an interim report this month.

The association has submitted evidence to the review, covering salaries, conditions of service, job uncertainty, initiative overload and the imposition of unrealistic timescales.

The fact that so many school and college leaders are leaving post early and that recruitment is difficult must surely be sending a strong message to the government that things have to change.

Policy agenda

Each year ASCL's Executive Committee identifies the key priorities for our 'public policy agenda'. These are the areas in which we are pro-actively campaigning.

For 2006-07 we will continue to prioritise the pay and conditions of school and college leaders. It is essential that those with leadership responsibilities have manageable workloads and are suitably remunerated.

We will continue to press for an appropriate differential between the highest paid teacher and leadership group salaries.

Collaboration and partnership is another key area. There is a clear tension between competition as exemplified by league tables and the need for collaboration on matters such as 14-19 diplomas and accommodating hard to place children.

We cannot escape that fact that there are still inequalities in the funding system. With further changes due in 2008 both in the 11-16 funding and post-16 mechanisms, the association will be working hard to achieve 'fair funding for all'.

We have made progress over the last two years and now have representation on
the Schools Funding Implementation Group (SFIG) and the LSC's Funding, Planning and Quality Group. We do not always get the changes we believe are essential but at least those who make the decisions are listening!

Intelligent accountability

Our policy on intelligent accountability has just been updated and will form the basis of our work with Ofsted and the DfES in aiming to have a system that 'combines internal school processes with levels of external monitoring appropriate to the state of development of each individual school'.

We continue to have concerns related to the amount of assessment that we are required to carry out (and that students endure) and this is a key aspect of the work of our Education Committee this year.

Our final priority is the Every Child Matters agenda and the continuing developments with extended schools. There are certainly matters relating to the leadership, management and funding of extended schools that need to be resolved.

All of these areas will be high on our agenda throughout 2006-07 and I hope that many members will be able to join us to review progress at our annual conference on 9-11 March 2007 in London.

I would very much like to hear members' views on these and other issues. I can be contacted through HQ on 0116 299 1122 or on malcolm.trobe@ascl.org.uk I hope that you have a very successful and rewarding year.

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