Leadership podcast

In our series of podcasts on leadership, ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton speaks with education leaders from around the country.

To give a flavour of this year’s annual conference, General Secretary Geoff Barton had a brief conversation with each of the keynote speakers.

(The numbers in brackets indicates when each interview begins)

Sir Martyn Oliver, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector (0:04)

Rt Hon Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education (2:48)

James Kerr, author of ‘Legacy’ (4:26)

Dr Tessy Ojo, CEO, The Diana Award (7:26)

Bridget Phillipson, MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education (10:48)

Ed Balls & Justine Greening, former Education Secretaries (12:55)

Munira Wilson, MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education, Children and Young People (18:20)

Anu Manthri, Google for Education & Dr Fiona Aubrey-Smith, Founder of PedTech: How to be Human in the Age of AI (22:10)    

Nick Brook, CEO, Speakers for Schools, & Marcus Wareing, Celebrity Chef (24:37)

All change in Northern Ireland ...?

This edition focuses on a landmark independent report into the future of education in Northern Ireland, which we debated at ASCL NI's inaugural Policy Forum. 

Geoff Barton talks to:

  • Dr Keir Bloomer, Chairman of the review group
  • ASCL NI President Nicola Connery
  • ASCL UK President John Camp
  • Director of Policy Julie McCulloch
  • and Director of ASCL Northern Ireland John Trueman

Strategic Issues in Trust Leadership:

In this episode, ASCL General Secretary talks to:

  • ASCL Trust Leader Consultant, Rob Robson, on trust leader development
  • Toby Greany, Professor of Education, University of Nottingham on research around trusts
  • Dawn Haywarrd, CEO, Windsor Academy Trust, on their journey to sustainability and net zero
  • Alex Russell, CEO, Bourne Academy Trust, on the opportunities afforded by artificial intelligence

At our March conference this year, Benjamin Zephaniah talked to ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton about his background and the increasing importance of the arts in education.

My interview with Jerry White, Principal and Chief Executive Officer of City College Norwich, Paston College and Easton College, during my visit to Easton College on the outskirts of Norwich. It's a celebration of the great work done by the FE sector - the commitment to inclusion, the tailoring of various curricula to the needs of learners, and the palpable pride of students and staff. 

In this edition, General Secretary Geoff Barton talks to Timothy Cho, human rights activist, on his escape from North Korea, why education matters more than ever to reaffirm democracy, and why he has a collection of more than 8,000 pens. 

In this edition of the podcast, Geoff Barton talks to Matt Hood OBE, Chief Executive of Oak National Academy.

An introductory conversation with John Trueman, ASCL's new Director of ASCL Northern Ireland

In this edition of the podcast, Director of Policy Julie McCulloch talks to Geoff Barton about the key recommendations in our new ASCL manifesto for education, and how we will use it through the year ahead to influence educational improvement. 

In this edition, Geoff Barton talks to Professor Sam Twiselton OBE,  Director of Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University.

What do we know about the recruitment and retention crisis in teaching, and how do we start to fix it?

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton in conversation with:

  1. Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector, Ofsted
  2. Dr Jo Saxton, Chief Regulator, Ofqual
  3. Shaparak Khorsandi, Comedian
  4. Jay Blades MBE, Presenter, Designer and Charity Founder
  5. Bridget Phillipson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education
  6. Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy, ASCL
  7. Baroness Sue Campbell, Director of Women’s Football at The FA
  8. Phoebe L Hanson and Yumna Hussen, Student activists
  9. Martin Tierney, Leadership speaker
  10. Brent Frey, Former Director Educational Leadership, Apple Inc
  11. Benjamin Zephaniah, Poet

In this episode, Geoff Barton talks to the CEO of the Independent Schools Council, Julie Robinson, about (a) the landscape of independent education (beyond some of the stereotypes) and (b) the implications of Labour's tax proposals. 

January 2023

Professor John West Burnham was one of education's most powerful thinkers, most prolific writers, and most inspiring speakers. He died in late 2022. In this tribute, Geoff Barton replays a conversation he had with John, recorded at the Suffolk Festival of Learning in summer 2018. Professor - you will be missed.

During our visit to Northern Ireland, we discuss pupil wellbeing, mental health, and character education with colleagues at Glenolola Collegiate School and Strangford Integrated College. Then, Graham Montgomery, ASCL NI President, talks about the conference theme of 'connected leadership' and the Northern Ireland funding crisis.

November 2022

In this month’s podcast, ASCL General Secretary finds out more about Guernsey’s mission to transform education. With 30% of young people educated in independent schools (grant-aided colleges), a decision to move away from selection at 11, the island is now looking to rationalise four state secondary schools into three, to create a dedicated post-16 campus, and in the process to bring a renewed commitment to equity, ambition on educational standards, and new opportunities for staff development.

Here’s Guernsey’s story so far, featuring conversations with:

  • Nick Hines, Director of Education
  • Liz Coffey, Executive Principal of the Secondary School Partnership
  • Martin Haimes, Headteacher, Beaucamp High School
  • Jenny Palmer, Principal, Elizabeth College
  • Honor and Jonathan, Year 13 students, Elizabeth College

In this month's podcast, Geoff Barton talks to ASCL Past President, Pepe Di'Iasio; new President, Evelyn Forde; and Vice President, John Camp, about current issues members are dealing with and their hopes for the year ahead.

In this month's podcast, Geoff Barton talks to Richard Cranmer, CEO of St Benet's Multi Academy Trust, in rural Norfolk. Richard talks about the transition from being a headteacher to a Chief Executive, and the opportunities it gives him to support, coach, and celebrate new and existing headteachers. He also describes the CEO network he's part of.

In this month's podcast, General Secretary Geoff Barton discusses an example flexible working arrangements.

At Grenoside Community Primary School, near Sheffield, Pamela Smith and Richard Lian work as co-headteachers, with Pamela head on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays; Richard on Thursdays and Fridays.

Here they describe how the arrangements work, the response of staff, and the benefits to both of them as leaders - as well as to their school community.

In this month's podcast, General Secretary Geoff Barton focuses on further education.

On a visit to the Weston Group of colleges in Weston-Super-Mare he explores how outstanding provision goes way beyond the FE stereotypes - covering inclusion, higher education, bootcamp courses, and prison education.

In this month's podcast, Geoff Barton talks to Professor Robin Alexander, author of Education in Spite of Policy and A Dialogic Teaching Companion, about the importance of a broad primary curriculum, building teacher agency and expertise, the proven power of dialogic teaching, and ministers’ tendency to impose yet another ‘initiative’ rather than learn from history and evidence.

BiteBack2030 CEO James Toop talks to Geoff Barton about young people's grassroots campaigning on food quality, their entitlement to healthy choices, and how the organisation is developing student leadership.


March 2022 | Annual Conference Special

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson talks to Geoff Barton about Labour’s priorities for education

March 2022 | Annual Conference Special

Chief Regulator Dr Jo Saxton talks to ASCL qualifications specialist Tom Middlehurst about this summer's examinations


March 2022 | Annual Conference Special

Ahead of her conference keynote, mental health and body image campaigner Natasha Devon summarises her views.

March 2022 | Annual Conference Special

Following the Secretary of State's speech ahead of the forthcoming White Paper for Education in England, we asked five leading educationists for their responses:

Natalie Perera, Chief Executive, Education Policy Institute twitter.com/natalieperera1
Sam Freedman, Adviser at Ark Schools & Senior Fellow, Institute for Government twitter.com/Samfr
Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy, ASCL twitter.com/juliecmcculloch
Peter Hyman, Co-Director of Big Education twitter.com/PeterHyman21
Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England twitter.com/Rachel_deSouza

Rebecca Boomer-Clark, CEO of Academies Enterprise Trust, in conversation with Geoff Barton about her career, the work of AET across communities, and the future of the trust system.

Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of Education Policy Institute (EPI), in conversation with Geoff Barton about the work of EPI, and specifically their new report 'Covid-19 and Disadvantage Gaps in England 2020’

Matt Salmon, ASCL Cymru President, in conversation with Geoff Barton about current issues in Wales, plus the opportunities for curriculum and assessment reform.

ASCL Northern Ireland Conference Special
Geoff Barton in conversation with ASCL NI President Stephen Moore

So what does attending to the wellbeing of young people mean in practice?

A conversation between Geoff Barton, David Gregson and Meera Saravanan about the Greater Manchester #BeeWell project. The starting-point is a wellbeing survey of young people ... leading to action on their behalf.

This podcast explores the principles and implications of the initiative.

Dame Rachel de Souza talks about her background as a head and CEO, the role of the Children's Commissioner for England, and her mission to make the online world a safer place for young people.

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton discusses ASCL's new 'Blueprint for a Fairer Education System' with ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch



Past editions of the Leadership podcast