Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Pleased to be proved wrong

New Council member David Lowe gives an assessment of the workings of Council and its impact on national policy.

Why would a headteacher with a heavy workload put himself forward to be elected as a national representative on ASCL Council?

For some length of time I had the perception that ASCL was too compliant to government wishes and that decisions were being taken and new legislation introduced without any challenge being made by ASCL.

My view has always been 'put up or shut up' and therefore I put up and was really pleased to be elected.

Throughout my career I have always been willing to question or challenge. As a trainee teacher I was chair of the student union and within two years of teaching I was the NUT school representative. I suppose I mellowed with age and became the ATL representative because the union appeared more sensible and viewed management in a different light.

In 1988 I joined what was then SHA when I was promoted to a senior teacher position in a school in Wigan.

Since my election to Council I have enjoyed the two full meetings attended so far. I approached the first meeting in September with a great deal of trepidation but that soon disappeared over dinner when I was made to feel very welcome by ASCL officers.

Malcolm Trobe, our president, was equally reassuring. The fact that there were so many new members also made it easier.

There were two things occupying my mind. Firstly, I wanted to avoid using the old name of SHA and secondly I was trying desperately to disguise my extremely broad Mancunian accent. I was successful with the first but failed miserably with the second after I enjoyed my third glass of wine!

The following day began with a full council meeting with a lengthy agenda consisting of reports from individuals and committees. It was at this very early stage that I realised just how much ASCL influences government policy.

Members such as John Dunford, Malcolm Trobe, Martin Ward and many others attend regular meetings with ministers. The pre-conception I once held soon disappeared and it wasn't long before I understood how ASCL approached negotiations and consultations. What became blatantly obvious is that ASCL is extremely professional.

If there is one thing I would like to see more evidence of it is ASCL communicating more effectively with its members about the discussions officers have with ministers. It is essential that members register to receive the weekly e-newsletter and keep up to date on developments. I am aware of how difficult it is to read all the information we receive in school but the newsletter is very well presented.

On a personal level the two meetings I have attended have provided me with the best professional development I have ever experienced. The debates held at Council on topics such as the future of MFL are very realistic and practical and most importantly focus on the learning of young people. Although I have been made to feel very welcome I have yet to speak at full Council. I am sure I will as soon as I modify my Mancunian accent enough to be understood. 

More information

Reports to Council from the general secretary and other officers, as well as reports from committees, are on the website at www.ascl.org.uk  Click on 'about us' and 'ASCL Council'.

To register for the e-newsletter email angela.stewart@ascl.org.uk . We promise not to use your email address for any other purpose or give it to any third party.

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