Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

In the news

Slimming down

For a story on curriculum, the key stage 3 review provoked a surprising amount of broadcast interest in early February. John Dunford was interviewed on BBC Breakfast, News 24, and the 6 O'clock News; Radio 5 Live, and Radios 1 and 2.

The headlines focused on what was in the proposed curriculum, such as climate change, cookery and the slave trade, and for the most part glossed over the fact that the review would indeed give schools more flexibility over the curriculum.

John welcomed the slimmer curriculum but warned that ministers historically have a hard time remaining hand-off. In the Financial Times, he said: "Government ministers must resist the temptation to respond to every newspaper headline by adding to the school curriculum or we will very soon return to the position we are trying to escape from at the moment."

Drugs warning

Nearly all the national papers carried blazing headlines along the lines of '9-year-old children used by dealers to deliver hard drugs' after a passing remark by Alan Johnson in an Education Select Committee hearing over bullying in January.

John Dunford, who was quoted in the Guardian, Times, Telegraph and Daily Express, stressed that schools are still more often than not safe havens for students, especially in inner city areas.

However, he said: "It is a major problem for schools when violent rivalries in the community come into the school playground. It is way beyond what society should expect heads and teachers to have to deal with and yet that is the reality in some schools."

Beware of Jilly Cooper

There was a warning in the TES on 9 February for ASCL members attending the annual conference in March.

The paper announced that Saturday's after dinner speaker is Jilly Cooper (who will "always have a special place in the TES heart," for ringing the paper for advice while writing Wicked, based in a school).

The TES admonished: "We hope her descriptions of passionate trysts between married headteachers...do not lead ASCL members to high jinks." We are sure that delegates will be on their best behaviour when TES journalists are present.

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