Reflecting on the past year, I can safely say that one of the best pieces of advice I received when I started as a Deputy Head was to join a union that was specifically for school leaders. My Head recommended ASCL, I think this was because this was his union and I guess he had found them effective and supportive. Little did I know at the time how true this would be for me. A caveat here…I can only speak for my own experience, I haven’t been a member of other teacher unions which I am sure are also excellent. However, over the past year, the calm wisdom of Geoff Barton and the team at ASCL has been such a help. Along with the rest of the team, he has spoken with sense and provided clarity when announcements about school closures and assessment have been anything but clear.
Whichever union you choose to join, it is well worth it for the community and guidance that they offer. A union specifically for school (and college) leaders can be a source of advice that is specifically tailored to your role. Unions do have influence over government decisions and do lobby for change, working in the background, more often than not, to change policy or improve working practices. Through membership you also have the chance to be a part of this change as well as benefitting from the sense that an organisation has your back as an educationalist!
One other organisation that I can’t recommend highly enough is the Chartered College of Teaching (https://chartered.college/). The College is the professional body for teachers and seeks to be the standard setter for CPD and give teachers and leaders the chance to become chartered, therefore recognising the significance of the profession. I have the privilege of being a Fellow of the College which affords me with the opportunity to join round tables to represent education to the Dfe and to raise the profile of our wonderful profession. It is a joy to signpost teachers in my school to the College and to point colleagues to the resources offered by it. The College was established by the amazing Alison Peacock and offers resources and high quality CPD for teachers at all stages of their career. Alison was interviewed by Emma Turner and Tom Sherrington for their podcast: Mind the Gap https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5spixFp0qQ