ADES REGIONAL FORUMS: Discussion Paper and Key Questions Dear Colleague, You will recall that I contacted you just before Christmas regarding the forthcoming ADES Review which is now about to get underway. The first of a series of REGIONAL FORUMS is about to take place. I do hope that you have registered your interest in attending one of these. Time will be tight at these events, and to allow us to get the most out of the few hours that we have, there are some KEY QUESTIONS that you could perhaps consider in advance. I have also included a series of comments for you to respond to on a 5 point scale. As well as discussions on the night, there will be a GLOW Discussion Group opened up to allow an on line debate to unfold.
The Role and Purpose of ADES The Vision of the association is “To promote public awareness of and make national representation on issues affecting the education service and to safeguard and promote the professional interests of members by giving advice, and by providing opportunities for professional development.” This has pretty much been the nature of ADES over the last few decades and it has been largely successful in delivering this vision. Since devolution especially, ADES has become influential in advising on national policy and the introduction of the Virtual Staff College has allowed for a much greater emphasis on CPD needs of members. Key Question 1 Are you happy with the vision as described above or do you envisage a different role for the association? If so, please outline your ideas. Comment (please assign a number against the statement from 1-5 with 1 strongly agree; 2 agree; 3 neither agree or disagree; 4 disagree; and 5 strongly disagree) •
ADES is a successful organisation that fulfils its vision.
Membership of ADES Originally ADES was an association for only those in the more senior of Directorate posts and despite a relaxation of this, the vast majority of members are in Directorate or senior management posts. Currently there are 275 approx members, a figure that has been pretty consistent for about 5 years. One concern currently is that numbers may decline with fewer senior posts. Some discussion has been taking place with a view to widening the scope of membership criteria to include all posts in education and children’s services. Already there are some members who do not
have an education background but who work in the service. Currently there is no obvious professional association for those working in national agencies, and this also has been mooted as a possible source of new members which would strengthen ADES. There are a small number of associate members who currently pay a reduced subscription but who also do not get full membership rights. These tend to be retired members or those from partner organisations. A decision taken at the 2010 AGM was to make all members’ subscriptions the same, currently £90, but to await the outcome of the review for those of associates. The issue was that if associates paid the same rates of subscription, then they would have to get the same rights as full members. While this had some benefits it also could have some disadvantages if associate membership grows. Key Question 2 Do you see a need to review the membership criteria ( refer to the constitution ) and include others working in education and children’s services? If so please outline your ideas. Key Question 3 Should associate members pay full subscriptions and receive full rights, or should there be a reduced subscription rate with reduced benefits? Comment (1-5) •
ADES should remain much as it is at present and have members who mainly work in middle and senior management posts in education authorities.
Communication and Engagement with members We are in an era where it has never been easier to communicate but therein lies the challenge for us! Traditionally our communications with members has been on a needs based approach coming normally from the General Secretary, ADES administration, or VSC. Part of this review will look at a communications and engagement strategy which must meet members’ needs but also be sustainable. Our partners RM have offered to support us to establish electronic systems if that is something we wish. Some suggestions made have been a regular blog, a monthly newsletter, committees and networks posting discussion papers, and much greater use of GLOW. Communication does not necessarily mean engagement, and because of the nature of ADES and the geography of Scotland, it is difficult to get all the members together regularly. Some ADES members are regularly engaged either in the work of the association, in committees and networks, or use the VSC as a CPD vehicle. Others are more passive, and some feel that it is difficult to become involved. We have an annual conference which draws about 120 members on average, specifically targeted events/conferences which normally involve other partners, and lately have used GLOW meet for arranging a seminar. The regional networks introduced to help improve engagement have been difficult to sustain.
Key Question 4 What do you feel would be the essential components of a communications and engagement strategy that is sustainable for the association but, crucially, helpful, informative and dynamic for the members? Comments (1-5) •
ADES communicates well with its members
I feel that I can engage as much as I want to with ADES
Constitution, Committees and Networks A copy of the constitution can be found on the ADES Glow site for reference. It is a fairly straight forward constitution that reflects the operation of the association. Any proposed changes, as a consequence of the review, will be put to members. The most recent change was to place the post of President on a two year basis. The committees (see below) have members nominated from the regions on a two year basis. The Chairs of the committees become members of ADES Executive. Regional Chairs (South, West, North West, South East, and Northern) also form part of the ADES Executive, along with the President, past President, chair of the Directors’ Forum and the General Secretary. •
Resources Committee which has the Personnel Network reporting to it
Education Committee which has the Quality Improvement Network reporting to it
Children’s Services which has the Early Years Network and the inclusion group reporting to it
The Virtual Staff College is separately arranged and led, but has ADES members on its committee. Key Question 5 Do you feel that the current committee structure reflects the main priorities for the association and are there improvements you would suggest? Key Question 6 How can ADES committees and networks engage more fully with members and conversely, how can ADES members both input to, and gain benefits from, their work? Key Question 7 Is the current structure for the ADES Executive representative and do you have any suggestions on how to improve the current arrangements? Comment (1-5) •
I feel involved with ADES
I feel that I can influence the direction of ADES.
Professional Development of Members and links with the Virtual Staff College A cornerstone of the association is that membersâ€™ professional development interests and needs are shaping the direction ADES takes. This happens in different ways but since its inception, the Virtual Staff College has been the vehicle for the majority of such provision .Linked to its English and Welsh counterparts, it provides a highly professional enabling mechanism for the CPD activities requested by ADES. Events such as the annual conference, joint seminars with partners, CPD events, VSC summer school, leadership and mentoring programmes and bespoke courses for authorities are some of the activities. The VSC also generates quite high cash flow and a reasonable profit from its activities. Key Question 8 How well do you feel ADES delivers on its vision of providing personal development for members, and how can this be improved? Key Question 9 How do you feel VSC could further develop its activities to deliver high quality CPD opportunities for members and partners? Comment (1-5) â€˘
I have benefitted professionally from being an ADES member
Relationships with Partners ADES relates to a range of organisations as it delivers its vision on behalf of members. Those that the association works closest with are Scottish Government, COSLA, HMIe, LTS, GTCS, and SQA. There is a regular dialogue with other professional associations and trade unions within education as well as ADSW. ADES currently has formal partnerships with The Cook Foundation and RM, both of whom make financial contributions to the association. Very recently Scottish Government agreed to sponsor for one year, an ADES Executive Officer post which went to tender prior to appointment. On a regular basis, ADES is asked to make press statements and also to give advice on policy related issues which is a key role of ADES executive. In so doing, the association has ensured that there is no political bias but views based only on educational criteria. From time to time, ADES is asked to give evidence to Parliament and also to provide advice to political parties, but again, the association has always ensured objectivity in so doing. Key Question 10 Do you feel that ADES should remain a non political body providing only advice on education issues, or would you wish to see a greater emphasis on proactive policy formation?
Comment (1-5) •
ADES is highly influential body in Scottish education.
Finance ADES is largely a member funded association which has comparatively low subscription rates. The 2010 AGM decision to increase subscriptions for full members, and have a standard rate will increase revenue. However, donations and funding from partners can fluctuate and in financial year 2009/10, the association had an annual deficit of approx £10,000, albeit balances of £46,700. The main fixed costs for the association relate to administration and general secretarial duties, with a part- time post involving two days per week. The 2009/10 accounts are available on the ADES Glow site for reference. Key Question 11 What suggestions do you have for improving the financial position of the association? Comment (1-5) •
I would be willing to pay increased subscriptions to ADES if I felt I was getting enhanced benefits.
Conclusion You views on these key questions will be very informative to my report and provide a series of recommendations for you to consider. They may not of course cover all the issues you wish me to look into, and if that is the case, please post your comments on the GLOW site. Thank You, Bruce Robertson