Minutes of the Regional Officers Meeting
23rd September 2023 via Zoom (9.30a.m – 12p.m)
- Leigh Hoath (LH) Co-Chair and Yorkshire and Humber region
- Alex Sinclair (AS) – Co-Chair and London Region
- Andrew Chandler-Grevatt (ACG) Surrey and Sussex
- Rajiv Joshi (RJ) – Chair of London Region
- Helen Gourlay (HG) – Anglian Region
- Sally Spicer (SS) North and East Midlands
- Lorrie Murphy (LM) – Beds Cambs Region
- Rebecca McCready (RB) – Sec North East Region
- Lynne Rawlins (LR) – Southern Counties
- Colin Oates (CO) – ASE Scotland Region
- Susie Burr (SB) -ASE Scotland
- Liz Lawrence (LL) -North East London and Essex
- Jonathan Scott (JS) -West of England Region
- Peter Humphries (PS) -West Midlands
- Lynn Ladbrook (LL) – CEO Observer
- Colin Yates (CY) – Beds, Herts, Cambs
- Catherine McCready (CM) – NI Region
- Toby Evans (TE) - Southern Counties
- Kathryn Horan (KH) – Yorkshire and Humber
- Melanie Bennett (MB) – Membership and Regional Events Officer
LH/AL welcomed everyone to the meeting.
- New Structures Support for regional Activities and committees
LL explained that Melanie Bennett would be taking over as Membership and Regional Events Officer and would support activity and committees in the English Regions. This would include support with circulating agendas, zoom links, helping to contact speakers, promoting events, logging new events on EventBrite, generating and populating the Regional Newsletters and generally supporting with various activity.
In addition, the ambition is that under the new Director of Professional Learning, we will also have nationally led activities which would bring CPD and events into the regions – for example in the form of roadshows – e.g. where we identify an area or professional community that we perhaps need to support more or would engage well in a specific topic/activity/workshop. For such activities we would look the regions for ideas of venues and speakers. LL noted that at this point it was unclear how much activity would be involved so we would need to coordinate this to manage Melanie’s workload. AS noted that there were benefits to just one person doing this activity as this would facilitate sharing of ideas and activities.
The committee raised a number of questions including the need for better communication packs to help members communicate the new membership model, the problems that had been experienced with zoom, the need for HQ to staff to nudge committees into action – as Field Officers had done this previously. One concern was that FOs had good contacts and networks and these would disappear now that the FOs were no longer supporting the Committees. LL noted that it was hoped that the Committees themselves would still have many valuable links and contacts and that the Membership and Regional Events Officer (Melanie) could still facilitate links and invite or reach out to those individuals or organisations, but one of the valuable benefits of the committees was their local contacts and linkages – as such it was hoped that these wouldn’t disappear with the FOs.
LL confirmed that MB would be setting up meetings with all chairs to discuss their needs and calendar of activities. She noted that this would differ according to the region.
Action – LL to investigate a different process for logging into and using Zoom as two factor authentication was causing some issues.
Action – MB to meet with region chairs to discuss needs and activities over the next year.
- A move from committee?
The Group split up into two breakout rooms to discuss how we can widen regional ASE communities without the need to be on a committee.
Each group returned to the main room to summarise their discussion. One group felt that they couldn’t see how the community beyond the committee really worked and that it was a struggle to engage with ASE members beyond the committee. It was mentioned that it would be helpful to have ready-made communications/messages that could be circulated to their networks promoting the membership. LL confirmed this had been done but could certainly be improved.
There was concern that without the Field Officers, Committees may struggle to continue. It was noted that some regions were very large and as such overwhelming to try and cover the whole area, and FOs had helped to identify specific activities and make larger areas manageable.
There was interest in how roadshows that were organised and coordinated at a national level could be utilised in the regions. PH mentioned that there used to be sections within regions. This seemed to work well in local authority days, but unclear how this would work now with fewer members.
There was a discussion as to the purpose of committees – it was noted that the committee was that link to the local membership – that ASE had local networks and activities as well as national activities. The committee was what made that happen.
LH emphasised that there was no agenda to dismantle the regional committee structure, but to explore what could be done to support those areas that might be struggling to operate, or questioning their purpose. LL noted that where committees were struggling to sustain themselves, there maybe things we could do to work differently in those areas – e.g. focus less on making the committee per se work, and more on activities or communications that would engage members. This was just a suggestion however, and this needed to be discussed more with the region chairs.
- What works well?
The group split into two breakout groups to discuss what the ASE local community needs to be even better?
It was noted that one of the strengths of the regional structures was that something different was happening in all regions. These activities were driven by local knowledge and this worked well – moreover very local (within the region itself) also worked well – rather than trying to cover the whole region with one event. As such those struggling with larger regions for example could just focus on one area – for instance where engagement was high – this is what was happening both in Leeds and Newcastle.
It was also noted that knowing who our membership is in the region would be helpful – the demographic, professional background, geographic location etc would be useful. HQ could support this knowledge.
SS noted that they were due to host event in coming weeks that tapped into what they as a committee felt would be valuable. They were charge a small amount for non members to cover refreshment costs. The committee were looking forward to it and they hoped it would be attractive to other members of the region.
SB noted that online events worked well in Scotland, but that the latest F2F Annual Conference had been lower than hoped on numbers. They had just polled to see whether local members would prefer a face to face or online event. They were also trialling some local workshops to reach the more remote parts of Scotland. They do get support from HQ (from events and from comms). Their committee meetings are open to all to attend. Polling could be something we also look to take across other regions.
LL noted that it would be good to try and capture some of the things that regions do to engage with their local members and show case this – perhaps in an EIS article. Also she hoped that the Membership and Regional Events Officer could help to share what works across the regional network. Polling and analysing membership in the regions was certainly something we could look at doing across the regions.
Action – MB to look at building a picture of local membership and discuss with chairs ideas such as polling to find out what might be of interest to members.
- ‘National regional events’
The Group discussed the distinction between national and regional. LL noted that the vision was to build a programme of ASE CPD support that blended national, regional, online and on demand activities. Some regional events could be attractive to a wider demographic – for example something that targeted techs, early career teachers or trainees, or those interested in a specific topic – e.g. sustainability, inclusion or AI – and as such could be opened up to a wider audience. Others would continue to work most effectively just for that local membership. Having an overview of that would hopefully help us to identify what those events were and how we could ensure we maximise that. By having one officer that has oversight over all of the activity, supported by the Director of Professional learning, it was hoped that a complex jigsaw of support could be put in place. MB would be looking to draw up an annual calendar or regional activities and discussion would take place to maximise the benefits of these activities.
Action – once calendar of events has been drawn up – discussion to take place between MB, Chairs and Director of Professional Learning to identify those we could promote to a wider audience, and how we might target and segment that audience.
- Planned events and meetings
AS and LH emphasised that as Co- Chairs they were keen to support and attend key regional events: one of the benefits of having a co-chair with two different geographic locations meant that this was more possible.
LH said their annual trip to Whipsnade Zoo was always popular and they would be meeting shortly to discuss when this might be and would report back to HQ to discuss what support they would need.
LH urged Regional Committees at their next meeting to think about what they would like to achieve – e.g a putting a really good local event, or a marked increase in membership, or improvement in comms with members – but to consider what was realistic to achieve in the next 12 months. This could then be discussed with MB once in post to agree what support could be made available.
It was agreed that the Group should meet again, ideally face to face and potentially at Annual Conference to discuss how the new structure was working.
Action: MB to circulate a Doodle poll for Regions Chairs to identify a day at conference that may work.
A couple of committee members asked who they might contact to volunteer at conference. LL confirmed this should be Angela Buckland in events.
The meeting ended at 12.00noon