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President with Wales in mind

As he takes the helm of the ASCL, Brian Lightman admits to some jealous feelings

HE CLAIMS his equivalents in England are "deeply envious" of the vocationally led Welsh Baccalaurate diploma, a qualification he believes gives Wales's students a home advantage both at university and in the real world.

But, as he begins his new role as president of the 13,000-member Association of School and College Leaders, Brian Lightman admits to being rather jealous of English headteachers, whom he believes have far more money to spend.

Proving what every union representative, head and teacher suspects that schools in Wales see far less money than England is one of his chief aims this year, along with a lengthy list of objectives surrounding professional leadership.

"I will be pushing for more money and a change in the way it is allocated in Wales," he says.

Mr Lightman, 52, has taken over from Malcolm Trobe as the ASCL's 2006-7 president. Mr Trobe returns to the helm at Malmesbury School in Wiltshire. Vice-president this year is Jane Lees from Wigan's Hindley Community High School.

His determination to fly the flag for Wales he is the first to hold the seat from the nation post-devolution will undoubtedly put him in a position of influence.

He has selected "leading professionals" as his main theme, placing special emphasis on improving support for the professional development of all school staff and raising status of all school leaders.

He will lobby and campaign the Westminster and Assembly governments to change things for the better fairer funding, intelligent accountability, improved assessment, changes to inspection, improved pay and conditions, better relations between institutions and a coherent 14-19 qualifications system.

"In light of last year's review of school leadership, there will be much to discuss this year about the shape, roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of leadership teams and governing bodies of the future.

"The working conditions and pay of senior leaders, both fully qualified and in support roles, are key areas."

Cutting red tape for heads will also be a hot issue. Mr Lightman sees bright futures for schools being run by management teams with extra non-teaching staff to ease the pressure on senior leaders.

He said: "Schools are now run by teams. In mine we have seven: the head, three deputy heads, two assistant heads and the director of administration."

On assessment of 14-year-olds, Mr Lightman says: "You wouldn't take away the right of a doctor to diagnose their patients but there still seems to be a hang up about teachers assessing the work of their 14-year-old pupils."

Mr Lightman has been head of St Cyres School in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, one of the first to pilot the bac, since 1999.

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