We are #10%braver: We now need to be #10%prouder

Four years ago today….

I was sitting in my flat in Sutton, reflecting on my Easter break, and where I was in my life and my career.

I started catching up on my notifications on Twitter and Staffrm as there had been a weekend long #slowchat about gender equality. I had recently connected with Helena Marsh who had written a blog entitled What Glass Ceiling? I was already connected with Jill Berry who had written a blog in response, and I had just met Natalie Scott via StaffRm, our stories had instantly resonated with each other.  We connected with Vivienne Porritt via the comments on the Staffrm blogs and she brought Sameena Choudry, Jules Daulby and Keziah Featherstone into the conversation.

Fast forward a few weeks’ later and 6 strangers met for tea and cake to discuss gender equality and feminism.

Over a few hours in a Hilton hotel in Bracknell, a hashtag and a twitter handle were born.

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There have been some interesting articles, blogs and tweets today about male MPs only following male politicians, about the ‘glass cliff’ for women leaders, and about women needing to own their accomplishments. Four years on we are still having the same conversations, but they are a lot louder and we do have a lot more testimonials of what is working to share.

This blog is me sharing my pride in being involved in such a fantastic community of committed educators.

April 2015-Mar 2016 #PledgeForParity:

  • We started with 7 Co-Founders: Helena, Jules, Keziah, Natalie, Sameena, Vivienne and I
  • Unconference I was held at Microsoft HQ in Victoria: our first event and 200 women in education attended, with 1 man there by choice
  • We reduced to 5 National Leaders: Natalie and Helena stepped back
  • Our community grew from 7 to a few thousand on twitter
  • Our blogs on #womened became a regular contribution
  • We articulated our vision and our values/ our 8 Cs
  • We made a call out for Regional Leaders

April 2016-Mar2017 #BeboldForChange:

  • 30 Regional Leaders stepped up to help us get the regional networks launched
  • 12 regional networks were launched with their own handle, aligned to the DFE regions
  • We held 1st birthday parties in April to mark our 1st year
  • Unconference II was held at Microsoft  in  Reading: 250 attended and we had a #heforshe panel and contributors
  • We launched the #womened app
  • We held a series of #womened #leadmeets
  • The WiE coaching pledge was launched by DFE and we worked in partnership with them

April 2017-Mar 2018 #PressForProgress:

  • We expanded our Regional Networks and oriented more Regional Leaders – we now have more than 60 volunteers
  • We launched international handles in the US,  Netherlands, Italy, Canada, UAE, Czech Republic
  • Unconference III was held at Sheffield Hallam University: 300 attended
  • The WLIE networks were launched by the DFE and we aligned our activity to collaborate with them
  • We held a series of #womened regional events
  • We launched our #womened newsletter and our #womened blog
  • We were nominated for a National Diversity Award
  • We were named in the TES Top 10 Influencers
  • We launched @WomenedBookclub and we kicked off with Mary Beard discussing her new book with our community

April 2018-Mar 2019:

  • We have 18,000+ followers on Twitter
  • We are curating a strand at Wellington Festival
  • We are writing a book to be published by #IWD19
  • Unconference IV is being planned for the Midlands in October

Four years on….

We have achieved so much and we need to  remember that we are all volunteers, we all work full time as women leading in education.

When you stop and pause, when you reflect and think about everything we have done, we should be more than #10%prouder

So as we live and breath the #10%braver mantra. We now need need to embody the #10%prouder one too, as a community which is easier, and as individuals which is always harder.

We are much more comfortable saying “I am proud of you”.

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We need to be as comfortable in saying “I am proud of me”.

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We need to be brave, then we need to be proud, then we need to be loud!

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I am proud of us #WomenEd and everything we have achieved. For everyone who has contributed in the last 4 years. Be proud, own it, celebrate it.

proud of yourself

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • What we will achieve in the next year
  • Where we will be in another 4 years time

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The Working Class  – Ian Gilbert et al for our @WomenEdBookclub chat in a few weeks’ time

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The people I have met in the last 4 years through twitter, staffrm, events and #womened
  • The time and energy that our community invest investment in our shared vision

Continue reading “We are #10%braver: We now need to be #10%prouder”

Women Leading in Education: The NPQH Launch

2 years ago I was a DHT in London. I had resigned without a job to go to. This had initiated me moving into a role at Head Office leading Professional Learning for staff across 42 schools for a year before I left. It gave me head space to work out what the next move would be. I was being coached to recalibrate and to  find my direction. I had just started my NPQH with Ambition School Leadership.

2 years on I am a Headteacher, I am an Executive Headteacher in fact as our 2nd school opens in September. I have led Aureus School for 4 terms: 1 term as an idea, 1 term as an empty building and  2 terms with a staff and student body.

2 years ago #womened was 1 year old, we are now about to turn 3 and have increased our reach to 18,000.

How things can change in a matter of time. In 2 years I have moved from frustrated and in conflict to feeling grounded and anchored. I have found my fit.

This weekend Ambition School Leadership launched their inaugural women only cohort for the NPQH in partnership with  #womened and Leading Women’s Alliance. This weekend it was me delivering an after dinner speech about my leadership journey to headship, not me listening as a participant.

 

 

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I am used to being the event organiser and host, doing the welcome and the housekeeping not the address.  I am used to delivering assemblies with a screen so delivering ‘naked’ (clothes on but slides free!) after dinner was totally out of my comfort zone. Doing keynotes is my #10%braver challenge, it is me modelling that you need to Lean In and step beyond your comfort zone. It is me living my conviction that you say yes and you work it out later. It is me showing that you make mistakes and you learn from them, the more I do them, the more confident and comfortable I will become in the public speaking space.

I only had 15 mins to share my thoughts, reflections and advice so I did not go into detail about my leadership journey, although it would have reassured many in the room that I have had my fair share of rough seas to navigate through, they can read about this on my blog.

 

 

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Instead I shared my journey to headship. I reflected on the power I have drawn from the #womened community. Both Kate and I addressed some of the barriers that women leading in education experience. The imposter syndrome, the inner critic, the fear of failure.

As well as the barriers we reflected on the crowd-sourced solutions. We both shared what could have held us back and how we pushed ourselves forward. I can remember the first time I met Kate at our inaugural #womened unconference, she spoke about the ‘taps on the shoulder’ that women need. I have been fortunate to have had peers and line managers who have tapped me, and I in turn nudge others on.

 

 

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After the speeches I joined Karen Giles and her dinner table – we reflected on women who work silently and do not promote their work. I shared with them the article I had read about the strategy the women in the White House use – the illumination technique – which they came up with to amplify the ideas and work of others to ensure that credit was attributed to the owner.

 

 

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Lack of role models and the absence of a support network can hold some women in education back. Part of my motivation for co-founding #womened was to find my tribe. My source of inspiration in giving so much of my time and energy to our gender equality movement over the last 3 years has been the contacts that I have made. I am surrounded by strong women, by brilliant role models, by inspiring women leading in education.

 

 

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The power I have drawn from the #womened community, together with the skills and experience  I gained from my NPQH with ASL, enabled me to be empowered in finding the right headship for me to be my authentic self. Following many years of school improvement in turn around schools, a start up school was a new challenge. The blank page gave us the opportunity to co-create a forward-thinking school.

The combination of all of these experience and opportunities over the last 2 years led to me being involved in initiating and steering the women’s only NPQH pathway. Had I not have been outward-facing, I would not have met these amazing women.

My motivation for contributing to and supporting this bespoke programme is the opportunity to create a ‘safe space’.  There was a sense of urgency in the room that we need to change the system. There was a sense of agency in the room that these women would be the changemakers to #pressforprogress.

My final plea to them all was that when they secured their 1st headship that they would negotiate, that they would challenge the pay gap and ask for what they need, that they would hold on to their power and not give it away before they had even started.

 

 

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What I did not have time to share was my recommended reading, so here it is:

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This weekend there was a palpable energy in the room. Magic was being created before our eyes by the wise women sculpting the residential – facilitators Carol Jones and Karen Giles, superbly supported by ASL programme leaders Deb Fisher and Abi Brown. Thank you for being Wonder Women.

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I am really excited to see what the future holds for all of the participants.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • 31 future female Headteachers  who will be leading our schools in the future including our 2 DHTs at Aureus School Julie Hunter and Bennie Kara

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • We are all starting Leadership Matters as our summer read for the team at Aureus

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Ambition School Leadership for curating the women’s only cohort launch – especially Deb Fish and Abi Brown
  • Melanie Renowden and Kate Chhatwal for initiating the bid for a women’s only cohort for NPQH
  • The partnership between Ambition School Leadership, Leading Women’s Alliance and WomenEd
  • Carol Jones and Karen Giles for facilitating the inaugural residential for this very special launch cohort of the women only NPQH

Career Development: Finding Your Fit

Job season has started for schools and teachers this week.

I have spent time with my SBL planning our staffing budget for next year. With a start up as long as you get your admissions numbers, and as long as your new team are in it for the journey, your budget for staffing is easy to plan. You know exactly who and what you need as your school grows and your team expands.

With the opening of our primary we are trying to box clever and save money by having an integrated operations team across the 2 schools. As we expand to KS2 in the primary we will be able to share teachers across KS2/3 as well which will make further savings, as well as providing security and stability for the students and parents, on top of career progression and development opportunities for the team. I am keen for Aureus School and Aureus Primary to be one team, for us to be an integrated school community across the 2 sites who connect and collaborate in a meaningful way, with the purpose of supporting our students and their families.

Our applications have just closed for our Aureus Primary senior leaders and we are interviewing this week. We have a very strong talent pool and I am excited to see how everyone performs at interview.  At the end of the month we have our open events for teaching jobs for both schools, in May we have an open event for our operations team. I think the informal events before our applications open has supported us getting the right people on our bus.

This weekend we also have our first #WomenEd event designated to Careers Development across the Midlands, in Birmingham. We have a fantastic line up of keynotes, workshops and clinics to support our community in making the leap to the next rung of their career. But moreover, to help our community to find their fit.

When we focus on the souls not the roles. When we focus on what we need rather than what position we want, the fit becomes easier to find.

So this blog is me sharing my experiences as someone who recruits but also someone who has planned their career and been strategic about each step. Next Saturday I am doing the opening with Annemarie, #WomenEd East Mids Regional Leader, and we are sharing the Do’s and Don’ts of Job Applications from our experiences on both sides of the interview table.

I have captured some of my thoughts and feedback below, framed by our #WomenEd values, our 8 Cs:

Community – curate your network; follow schools/MATs you would like to work at/ staff you would like to work with; you will find out about opportunities in all sorts of ways; you will meet people virtually (twitter/ linked in) and in person (teachmeets etc) who you may end up working with; you will be introduced to people through people

Clarity – know who you are as an educator; nail down your vision and values; know what sort of context you need and will thrive in; name your non- negotiables

Connection – do your research; compare your list of values to their school personality; connect with their social media profile; go for a visit; follow their staff & connect with them in advance

Communication – use affirmative language throughout the process; articulate who you are; speak to everyone you meet; ask questions about what it is like to work there; read what is not said too

Collaboration – ask a colleague or a friend to proofread your application/ CV/ letter; practise the interview/ fishbowl with a colleague; ask for feedback on your performance; sign up for free women in education coaching and have a 1:1 before the interview

Confidence – highlight all of the things you can do in the JD/PS not all the things you cannot do; share the impact you have had; be yourself at interview; believe in yourself and project this; if in doubt do the power pose throughout the day and repeat your mantra/ affirmation to calm the nerves

Community – ask yourself throughout the process: is this my fit? Can I see myself working in this school? Observe how the students enter & leave the school/ how they interact with staff/ how they behave at breaks and lunches – this tells you a lot about the culture

Challenge – prepare questions to ask at interview; don’t be afraid to ask them difficult questions about their journey/ staffing retention/ workload and wellbeing; be prepared to negotiate – know your worth and what you need to be successful in the role

Change – emotionally prepare for the transition; moving schools can be unsettling but change is also good; develop your resilience throughout the process – you will need it either way, being successful and preparing to start over/ or being knocked back and picking yourself up and brushing yourself off.

Throughout my career I have always had a 3 year plan. I have logged all of my roles and what I am responsible for/ how much I am earning. I have always known what I want to do next. As I have become more outward facing I have made sure that my professional identity is streamlined across all of the platforms I network on. I find LinkedIn is a brilliant way to keep my CV live and up to date. At each job offer I have negotiated – I have asked for more money, more time, an office, a laptop/ phone, admin support, CPD commitment and even a relocation package. My LM a few years ago taught me a really good technique – at the start of each academic year I sat down & reflected on the JD & PSof my next prospective role – I RAG rated with highlighters. This became my CPD plan for the year. If I had gaps I negotiated my responsibilities with my boss to close them. I asked for what I needed to progress.

I got my Headship through networking and I recruited most of my team by actively finding like-minded individuals.

I hope these tips are helpful – good luck and enjoy the process – I always learn lots from both sides of the interview process.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Who we will recruit this week to lead Aureus Primary School

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • Quiet Revolution is by my bed to start once I have finished Mary Beard’s new one.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • All of the #womened community who have volunteered their time to make next Saturday’s event happen
  • Nicole Fowles and her team for hosting us