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Meet the ASDAN team – Zoë Reid, Associate Head of Professional Learning

Zoë Reid’s ASDAN career began over 20 years ago. Transitioning into an all-new role in 2023, we spoke to her to find out more about her past, present and future.

What’s your role at ASDAN? 

"I am the Associate Head of Professional Learning, a brand-new role for ASDAN. I work alongside Zoë Elder (Associate Director of Professional Learning and Innovation) overseeing ASDAN’s professional learning provision, exploring and appraising initiatives to integrate within our offer. I’m also part of a newly formed heads of department team seeking to operationalise our new strategy."  

How would you describe your career path so far? 

"I had no plan in the beginning of my career – so I would say unexpected!"  

"School was something that I enjoyed but I wouldn’t say excelled at, and I had no idea what I wanted to do afterwards. Visiting a careers advisor helped me to discover my strengths and interests and supported me in securing a design-based YTS (Youth Training Scheme) at a publisher. After finishing this I went back to full time education to study design and after graduating, picked up a tutor role at a city technology college. This was my introduction to education and training."  

"Circumstances changed, I started a family, and wanted to work part -time but this wasn’t an option at the college. So, I tried a few different environments. First, assessing National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) for a national apprenticeship provider, and then onto a countywide Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), where I moved into leadership and management. One of my key tasks was to explore alternatives to GCSEs and this is when I first came across ASDAN."  

"Having the courage to take a few risks and run with opportunities helped steer my early and mid-career but as I got older, I took control of the direction I wanted to take. I’m now at a point where I feel that I'm playing to my strengths, using my experience and applying the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career." 

Why did you apply to work at ASDAN? 

"As a practitioner I was instantly attracted to ASDAN because of the approach to assessment and learning, and the flexibility it offered. I also loved the fact it felt like a community and that we were all working towards the same aim. So, when a role that I knew I could do became available I jumped at the chance to get involved."  

Describe your ASDAN journey so far 

"I worked as a freelance EQA (External Quality Assurer) of the main and Wider Key Skills qualifications for several years before applying for one of the first full-time regional roles in 2006. It was an exciting time as ASDAN was on the cusp of a prolonged period of innovation and expansion. The Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) came first, followed by the Personal and Social Development (PSD), Employability, and Personal Progress qualifications." 

"In 2018 I took a step back from working full-time at ASDAN to study human resource management but remained working on a freelance basis as a Principal EQA. The time away enabled me to understand how people, organisations and operating systems work together."  

How would you summarise your expertise? 

"I consider my strengths to be people centred; networking, bringing people together, developing trust and building relationships. I'm curious and strategic when appraising new opportunities, enthusiastic about growing knowledge across a variety of related areas, and have an extensive knowledge of the ASDAN offer and pedagogy." 

How do you keep up to date within your area of expertise?  

"I’m a lifelong learning fanatic, which is funny seeing as I could take or leave school. I'm a member of the CMI (Chartered Management Institute) and the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). I also subscribe to lots of podcasts and blogs and I really enjoy learning from others." 

What motivates you in your role? 

"The possibilities and opportunities, I’m creative and solution focused, so enjoy making connections and looking for ways to simplify and improve things." 

What's your favourite ASDAN course and why? 

"All of them of course! But I do have soft spot for Employability. It's a broad course and you can tailor it to meet specific needs.  Learners can experience work, develop knowledge and skills for work, learn how to plan for next steps or where to access support. Everyone needs to work at some point and Employability has something to offer everyone." 

What’s been a stand-out project that you’ve worked on? 

"There are so many memorable projects I’ve been involved with over the years. One that stands out is the development of our Lift Off course, which aims to close the attainment gap that often widens during the transition between primary and secondary school. It involved focusing on personal dispositions such as self-advocacy, empowerment and resilience, that are more relevant now than ever. It gave me the opportunity to work closely with secondary school teachers and teachers based in their primary, feeder schools, offering a rare opportunity to experience the different and unique environments of each. Bridging the gap is still a passion of mine." 

What are you currently focused on at ASDAN? 

"Since starting the new role in September 2023, most of my work has centred around realising ASDAN as a learning organisation. Our staff learning days and the roll out of our internal knowledge base are both examples of how we capture, share, and operationalise our learning and work together. I’m also piloting coaching conversations and developing a leadership programme for ASDAN staff that I hope to launch in the next month or two."  

"A key priority for 2024-25 is the development of ASDAN’s professional learning community (PLC). Our aim is to reinvigorate the ‘N’ in ASDAN, network, for how we bring our centres in membership together to access resources, support one another and work alongside us in the evolution of our courses, as well as everything in between."

"Several internal reviews are also taking place so we’re supporting this by facilitating discussions around the ASDAN skills and curriculum offer, alongside market research and stakeholder consultation in preparation for developing new courses, and developments in relation to accessibility, inclusion and diversity, aligned to our values and strategy." 

"It’s full steam ahead. I love that every conversation provides insights that inform our work to collectively find tangible ways of moving ASDAN forwards."