Richard Longson: Profiling The Vice President

In November 2006, Richard Longson, head of careers at Leicester Grammar School and current East Midlands regional representative, will become ICG vice president. Simon Ashby posed the questions to find out how he feels about his new role
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The Independent Online

How and why did you enter the field of career guidance?

I have been involved in CEG since I first began teaching. I have always believed that it is important to prepare for what is beyond school as well as working at school subjects. As my interest grew and grew, I began to shed my academic teaching and concentrate more on guidance. Finally, I decided that I ought to be professionally qualified and so, in the late Nineties, I studied for my DCG distance learning from Swanley. A key to all this has been the consistent support of the three headmasters at the school where I teach. Without their backing for me personally and, more importantly, the importance of CEG itself, we would not have been able to build the provision that we have at the school.

When did you first join the Institute and what were the primary reasons for you joining?

I first joined the Institute soon after the completion of my DCG, when I realised that there was a whole profession out there that I wanted to be part of.

Can you describe a typical day in your role as head of careers at Leicester Grammar School?

A typical day! Like anyone in careers it is hard to describe a typical day, as you never know who is going to come through the door, so guidance is a core of my work. Having said that, I deliver part of our personal social development curriculum working closely with the head of PSHE and still teach some history each week. I am involved with the pastoral side of the school as well, working closely with the heads of section and deputy head pastoral, and with our links at the cathedral.

What will be the advantages and disadvantages of working in an independent grammar school and being vice president of an institute with such a broad scope?

With the broadening of the base of the Institute I think that my experience gives a different perspective to those who come from a more traditional background. It makes a clear statement to the outside world that the Institute means what it says when it makes decisions at AGM. A downside is that I do have a steep learning curve in learning about some of the broader issues confronting the Institute and our interests across the four home countries, but I relish the challenge and I hope that I can live up to the expectations of fellow members. Having worked in partnership with Connexions and other independent careers providers I think that I have an understanding of the current issues affecting the situation in England.

The school in which I work has never been inward looking, and has always believed in serving the community. It has supported my involvement with many outside careers organisations and services, in particular with Consortium East Midlands - the grouping of Connexions services - with the Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby and the Independent Schools Career Organisation.

You have now been an ICG regional representative in the East Midlands for over two years. How do you think this has prepared you for your role as vice president?

I can't believe how time has flown by. At my first regional meeting I said that I would do the role for three years, as I felt it was healthy that someone else came in with fresh ideas. I had no idea at the time that I would ever land up preparing to take on a national role in the Institute. Looking back, I think that a key learning point has been the importance of anchoring the Institute in the membership and the revival of regional meetings has been an important step in that direction. Working on Council has also been useful as it has enabled me to grasp how the Institute works and formulates policy. The role has exposed me to IAG issues across the spectrum, which I might not have been fully cognisant of as head of careers in a school.

What advancements or developments do you hope to bring to the ICG during your tenure?

We have made huge strides in the past few years and the presidents, HQ staff and Council have steered the Institute into a position to move forward. As that takes place it is important that the membership are anchored in, because without the membership decisions at Council are meaningless. I feel very strongly that it is important to continue building up the regional meetings across the home countries and to encourage the development of innovative ways for sectoral representatives to work with their respective sectors to enable this process to take place. The website development has a crucial role in this too. I think we can all say that the service it provides has changed dramatically for the better over the past few years, but we must not be complacent.

I have a real interest in the development of the register of practitioners too, and look forward to seeing the outcome of the consultation with the membership and the debates that will follow in Council.

In my own work, I believe strongly in partnership working and I hope very much that this will be at the cornerstone of our relationship with other organisations involved in CEG/IAG. It is fundamental that we work collaboratively.

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