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How ASCL are overhauling professional development

The Association of School and College Leaders is a professional association and trade union for around19,000 school and college leaders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They’ve also partnered with the Department for Education to deliver a new National Professional Qualification for Executive Leaders (NPQEL), designed to help executive heads and trust chiefs enhance their leadership skills and develop their expertise.


Liz Sunter

We sat down with ASCL’s Director of Professional Development, Kcarrie Valentine, to discuss why professional development like this is so important, the impact of technology on how ASCL deliver training, and why schools and collegesneed to keep up with the latest tech…


ASCL launched a new NPQEL course this year. Can you tell us a bit about that?

It’s a leadership course for executive headteachers, business leaders and anyone with whole school leadership to develop their skillset. We’ve got a five-year contract with the DfE to run this programme, and have 120 people in our first cohort.


Are you delivering that online, or is it more workshop-based?

A large percentage of it is face to face. However, because of the nature of the people who are enrolled on the course, we wanted to make sure that people could engage out of those face to face sessions and access the materials at a time and place that suits them. So I explored a number of different learning platforms, and iTunes U was the one that best met our needs in terms of flexibility, in terms of the content we could put on there, and usability, in terms of our delegates being able to use and interact with the materials. So we've created a whole suite of resources and put them on the iTunes U platform.


And that’s how you got involved with our education team? 

Yes. My first contact with Jigsaw24 was with Mike Watkinson and the training team. We needed support for our own internal team, who were creating and managing the course resources and managing our participants, and we also needed equipment to help us create those resources. Our IT team have been using Jigsaw24 for quite some time, so it was good to square the circle there. 


Has the way you deliver courses changed as technology has evolved?

In terms of the CPD that ASCL offers, we are trying to develop new technologies to make sure that we’re delivering in different ways. So for example, we're moving away from paper handouts, and instead we’re sending presentations to our delegates and participants on the morning of their event. In turn, that means that each of them comes to the event with a suitable device, and that has been exceptionally successful. It gives the delegates greater flexibility at our events.


Some of the trainers, for example our inspections specialist Steve Rollett, have been making full use of new technologies such as Apple TV to make the training more interactive and hopefully more enjoyable for the users. 


Why do you think it’s important for the education community to keep pace with technology?

Ultimately, the students that our members are teaching often have equipment in their pockets that is more powerful than the things they’re using in school, just because of budget pressures, so it’s important that schools are aware of the tools pupils have access to.


What advice do ASCL have for schools looking to invest in new tech?

It’s really important that schools are fully aware of the different options that are there to support the learning of the students. Avoid fads and go for things that actually will make a significant difference to the learning, and the learning experience, of the students and young people in their schools. 


What ASCL do to support that is make sure that our members have got access to as wide a range as possible of different suppliers and solutions, so they can find something that suits their individual needs. Every school is completely different, so it’s really important that ASCL gives our members opportunities to see the range of different solutions that are out there. 


What should schools look for in a technology partner? 

ASCL has got a number of preferred suppliers and partners in different areas of education. For us, the important thing is that we have the same ethical view on things. We want to ensure that if schools buy any product from our preferred suppliers then it’s actually going to make a difference to the day to day workings within that school, either operationally or to the students. We don’t want suppliers who push schools towards a gimmick or a fad. And with budgets being so tight, you don’t want to invest in anything that isn’t going to be utilised fully, so we have an agreement with all our partners that they’ll provide schools with training on how to maximise the performance of their purchases.


Finally, how have you found working with our education team? 

The team are phenomenal. Every single person that I’ve worked with at Jigsaw24 has just been so friendly and open and helpful. There’s no such thing as a stupid question when you ring them up, which is really reassuring. I've worked with quite a few members of the team, and the relationship between Jigsaw24 and ASCL has grown just because of the way theyapproach the problems that I give them. They’re able to work with us to not just find a solution to that particular problem, but then offer further solutions to head off problems that may be coming down the line. 


To find out more about ASCL’s professional development, visit For more information about our training options, pop your details in the form below, and one of the team will get in touch. Alternatively, call 03332 409 290 or email


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