Lightman shines as favourite for ASCL general secretary

20th November 2009 at 00:00
'Extremely hard-working' Welsh head is union council's preferred choice for top job

A hot favourite has been named to take over as the new general secretary of the influential heads' union the Association of School and College Leaders.

Brian Lightman, headteacher of St Cyres School, near Cardiff, has been named as the union council's preferred choice for the top job, taking over from John Dunford when he steps down next year.

Mr Lightman, who was ASCL president in 200708, will take control of the 14,000-strong union in September, unless an election is triggered by another member.

Mr Lightman, educated at London's Westminster City School, became a deputy head at an Essex comprehensive before taking charge of two schools in south Wales.

He was one of the first heads to pilot the skills-led Welsh Baccalaureate, which he has championed as the post-16 qualification of choice.

His pioneering approach was recognised by Jane Hutt, the Welsh Assembly Education Minister, who praised St Cyres's role in developing the qualification.

John Dunford, the outgoing general secretary, will have held the position for 11 years. He is courted by ministers and has developed a reputation as a consummate networker. Media-savvy, he has also boosted the association's public profile.

Jane Lees, last year's ASCL president and head of Hindley High School in Wigan, said: "He is a hard act to follow, but we now have a younger group of leaders looking to the top."

Dr Dunford has focused on improving communications and has become a "statesman", Ms Lees said. "Brian is coming in at a different time, with different priorities and with more emphasis on members," she added.

Sue Kirkham, another past president of the union and retired head of Walton High School in Stafford, said: "Brian is an excellent colleague, very personable and lively with a great sense of humour, but also extremely hard-working. Having worked in England and Wales, he sees things from a different perspective, which will be a benefit."

Members opposing Mr Lightman's appointment have to do so by January 7, but it is believed this is unlikely.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, which represents 28,000 school leaders, is also stepping down next year.


Educated at Westminster City School, London and Southampton University, where he graduated with a BA (Hons) in German.

He completed a PGCE in German and French before starting his teaching career in a comprehensive in Crawley, West Sussex. He has also taught in Surrey and Essex, where he became deputy head.

Mr Lightman gained an MA in education from the Open University in 1993 and in 1995 became head at Llantwit Major School, in south Wales. He moved to St Cyres School, near Cardiff, in 1999.

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