Loud and clear
Active two-way communication with members is at the heart of ASCL's success and something the association is looking at closely this year. We want to hear your thoughts.
One of the best moments of my presidency so far was welcoming 26 new
representatives to their first ever Council meeting - possibly our
largest new cohort ever. The new members are a balanced mix of heads,
bursars, deputies and assistant heads reflecting our various categories
of membership. It was good to be able to hear their views about how the
association works, communicates with members and formulates policy.
ASCL Council is the policy determining body of the association. Our
policies are usually broad based statements of principle from which we
determine the actions we will take. The bulk of policy work is carried
out by five Council committees that debate the major issues and draft
policy statements. These drafts are circulated to all Council members
who are able to raise issues with the chair of the relevant committee.
The final version of policies is approved by full Council.
On some topics, usually the more contentious ones, Council holds a full debate before policy is determined so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. For instance, last Council included a debate on the proposed new admissions code, which informed our response to the DfES.
One of the timely discussion points at Council has been how best to
communicate with members. Following feedback from the membership survey
and individuals, the website is being substantially revised and some
exciting new developments are in progress.
We produce a substantial number of guidance papers to help members keep up with the plethora of government initiatives and legislation. It has been pleasing to hear such positive feedback on Peter Kent's excellent paper on CVA. Guidance on the new performance management regulations came out only weeks after they were announced. (Even better is the news that the government has listened to us on this occasion regarding the timescales and delayed the implementation by a year.)
At the moment guidance and policy papers are put on the website and
sent out as hard copies to members. One issue we will be considering is
whether, in the future, we should not issue hard copies but only place
our guidance and policy papers on the website. Again members' views
would be appreciated.
The recent membership survey clearly indicated that the regular
email newsletter is hugely valued by members but it is a concern that
we do not have anywhere near 100 per cent coverage. If you do not
receive these weekly updates, which distil what is important from the
mass of education news, please register using the website.
Alternatively send an email to Angela Stewart on email@example.com. I would encourage all members to make use of this service.
We need to hear from members as well. We are reliant on you, as a member, to tell us what issues are causing concern and what you need from the association. Please do contact headquarters directly, or get in touch with your branch secretary or district representative so that they can bring your views to Council.
I am also very pleased to receive emails on any issue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is only when we hear members' views that we are able to express them
in meetings with ministers, the DfES and others. One of ASCL's
strengths is that it is represented by practitioners at many meetings
and their views are held in high regard, particularly by ministers.
I expect to meet many members at the round of information
conferences that start just after the autumn half term. I hope that, as
well as receiving information, members will give us their views on
current issues. The information conferences incorporate a meeting with
the local branch secretaries so if you are not able to attend the
conference please pass on your views through your branch secretary.
On the topic of ASCL events, we are pleased that both Alan Johnson
and Sebastian Coe have confirmed their attendance at the 2007 Annual
Conference in March in London. One useful idea that came out of
planning with local members was to extend the opportunities to visit
local schools and colleges on the Thursday afternoon and Friday before
London provides a wide selection of schools and colleges offering exciting educational opportunities within easy reach of the conference venue. Sharing good practice is very important and we believe that this offers a valuable opportunity to see how other leaders work. Details will be available shortly in the e-newsletter and on the website.
I would urge you to attend annual conference, especially if you have not been before. It is always one of the best professional development opportunities on offer.
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