ISA’s National Chair 2017 attends Chain of Office Ceremony

7th September 2017

We are delighted to announce ISA’s National Chair 2017 – 2018, Alex Gear, Headmaster of Oakhyrst Grange School in Surrey.

Alex attended the House of Lords on Tuesday 5 September with ISA President, Lord Lexden and ISA Vice Chair, Sarah Welch, for his Chain of Office Ceremony. Below you can read his welcome to Members:

I wish to begin my welcome by putting things in context.  The honour of becoming Chair is highlighted by the fact that our ever growing Association is able to take the Head Teacher from one of its smaller schools and appoint them as an Honorary Officer.  The diversity of the schools within our Association is astonishing and a major strength.  Fellowship is the thing that binds us together along with a passionate desire to do the very best for our pupils and all of the constituent parties within our schools.  We are not a one size fits all association and as such we have a perfect opportunity to take a very broad perspective across the entire educational landscape.  So, back to the context, here am I the son of a Lyme Regis Postman and former comprehensive school pupil, some 39 years later as a practising Teacher serving you as the Chair of the Independent Schools Association.

During my year as Vice Chair I have worked with Dr Sarah Welch and the Executive closely and wish to recognise our debt of gratitude to her, Neil Roskilly, our Chief Executive and his staff at ISA House, for the continued growth and development of the Association.  We are now looking as far afield as Cambodia with regard to our charitable status.  The professional development courses and our conferences are recognised as being of major benefit to our teachers and our schools.  The sporting competition and opportunity provided by the ISA is exemplary and the current mood is to continue to develop the promotion of opportunities within the arts still further both locally and nationally.

I am very proud to have been a member of the Independent State Schools Partnership Forum that was formed by Lord Nash and chaired by Deborah Leek-Bailey OBE and ISA colleague.  As we shake-off the fall-out from the recent election we all await the outcome for this particular forum. As a member of the Board of the Independent Schools Council I will speak strongly in favour of the continuance of the forum.  Having taught in Surrey comprehensive schools for over 25 years through to A Level, and having liaised closely with well over 40 individual primary state schools annually during that period, my loyalty to and respect for our state school partners is considerable. As the Chair of a large association within the Independent Sector I intend for my tenure to look to build upon partnerships based on respect and collaboration.  Partnership is the key word.  My extensive dealings with Head Teachers and colleagues from both sectors indicate to me that there is a great willingness to engage in this work.  Let’s face it we have all been working to this end within our own communities for ages. We do not need Government initiatives to drive us toward an end that we have for so long recognised. Many of our ISA colleagues are Proprietors and I know that my friend, Matthew Adshead, this year’s Vice Chair and Proprietor, shares these views.

My wish is to continue the good work that has been done in developing the aims and values of the Association.  At a local level this a good time for Members old and new to develop closer links with each other for the purposes of professional development and fellowship.  I urge you to participate locally in all of the regional events and activities and to encourage your staff to join you.  The fact that my 160 pupils have access to competition at national sporting venues and exposure in national arts competitions and events is one of the best marketing tools that I have.  The training and professional development available to you and your staff is a major benefit.  Do please get yourselves involved in the ISA and encourage others to do so.  I can assure you that if you have a concern your ISA friends will be there to help you.  Dr Sarah Welch commented recently that if you have need of professional advice you can speak to a key member of the ISA staff within minutes.  Questions can be quickly answered.  Neil Roskilly, himself, will advise you upon request, usually, within the hour.  This is a people first association and I am very proud to be the Chair for this short period of time.  I do hope to meet as many of you as possible and trust that you will be able to attend both the Autumn Study Conference and the Annual Conference if at all possible.