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

Diverse Educators: #BAMEed #DisabilityEd #LGBTEd #WomenEd

Yesterday, was a defining moment in my career.

I am still buzzing from the inspiring and empowering group of diverse educators who came to Aureus for the day for our inaugural Diverse Educators event.

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#BAMEed met #DisabilityEd met #LGBTed met #WomenEd. 4 grassroot movements and communities came together to connect, to collaborate. The power of the collective voice.

The impact we can have working together was how I framed the event.  I opened Diverse Educators asking everyone to share their Why. We then did a popcorn sharing of our motivation for getting out of bed early and travelling on a cold Saturday morning in January.

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My why:diverse 3

We know our identities are more complex than just our gender. We all wear multiple hats, we all have multiple labels as we define and own our complex identities. What do we have in common? We are all humans. Yesterday, we brought together a group of humans who care deeply about diversity, equality and inclusion.

My proposition was that each community, each movement could challenge their systemic, structural and societal barriers for their label, or we could join forces and be a stronger voice, a stronger community to smash through these glass ceilings and these concrete ceilings together. Moreover with the support of all of the organisations who supported the event as exhibitors and contributors.

A collective mission.  A collective voice. A collective impact.

 

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Each of the grassroots movements shared an update on the progress of their community  and the impact they have made to date:

#BAMEed are a year old and held their first event last May in Birmingham, their 2nd event is soon and they are planning their 3rd for June 2nd. Co-founded by Abdul, Allana, Amjad and Penny they are growing their network and profile. Find out by following them here. An offshoot of @BAMEednetwork is @TFBAMEcommunity co-founded by Jess and Mahlon. They also have a series of events on the horizon.

#DisabilityEd is new on the block and unfortunately Lynne Wareham who is pulling volunteers together was too unwell to join us yesterday to share plans. The sessions that took place started the conversation. More to follow on this one as the community of educators with a disability come forward and join forces.

#LGBTed did a soft launch yesterday and will have a hard launch, an event in the spring.  Co-founded by Daniel and Hannah they have combined forces with David Weston and @OutTeacher. They have  Claire Birkenshaw (first know UK Headteacher to transition whilst in post) as an advisor to make schools more trans aware. Find out more here.

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#WomenEd is now nearly 3 years old! Co-founded by 7 educators, we have 5 of us as national leaders (Me, Jules, Keziah, Sameena and Vivienne) and 60+ as regional leaders in the UK and a further 10 driving the agenda internationally. We are planning our 4th national unconference for Autumn 2018, we have just reached 16,000 followers, we were nominated for a national diversity award, we were named in the TES top 10 influencers and we have a book deal with SAGE education. It has been an epic year for the #womened community! We have also just launched @WomenEd_Tech and @WomenEdBookClub Find out more here.

The schedule of the day involved 8 workshops in 4 time slots, 32 facilitated workshops and learning conversations about how we can have impact in our schools for our learners, both staff and students.

At lunchtime there was a buzz in the air as we all made human connections. Collaborations were initiated and I am excited to see how these will develop.

We closed with a panel. A diverse panel. A panel like we should see at more edu-events. It really isn’t that hard to ensure that you represent the voices of the audience and the profession at our events, whether they are grassroots or mainstream. Alison, Claire, Anna, Jonathan and Shirley represented and explored ‘How can we create a cohesive and coherent strategy to ensure a more diverse workforce?’ They reflected and shared how we can move from our why, to our how and to our what.

 

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I asked everyone in the room to then pledge their ‘what’. What is it we can all do differently from Monday? What is we can contribute to drive the diversity agenda?

The reason why Diverse Educators primarily came about was due to yet another poster advertising yet another event with an all white, male line up. We must continue to challenge the ‘manels’ and the ‘wanels’! We must collectively challenge the lack of representation at a lot of events, as well as on SLTs, Governing and Trust boards.  We will not change the ‘pale, male, stale’ face of pockets of our profession unless we challenge and ask for change.

I lost track of how many of these events I saw last year. Equally I was invited to speak at 10 plus events last year about diversity. I challenged each event that when I realised I was the representative. There were not diverse faces on the line up, just my straight, white face and voice championing diversity! They didn’t seem to see the irony? Moreover, on the few events where there was a smidgen of diversity, the diverse voices were marginalised to the small stage and pigeonholed by their topic.

So, it only seemed right for Bennie, one of my fabulous DHTs to close the event for us.  Bennie wears all of the hats.

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She explored each of the labels she wears. Her speech was passionate, personal and reflective as she shared her dismay at realising that she had a disability – as if it wasn’t hard enough to be a woman, an Asian women and an Asian bisexual woman. Did she really now have to deal with being a disabled Asian bisexual woman. How many labels can one person cope with? How many glass ceilings can one educational leader smash through? Her upbeat voice and pragmatic approach gave hope to the audience that it is possible, if you find the right school, if you stay true to your values. Moreover if you lean in and embrace your authentic self and bring your whole self to school.

 

Before everyone left I played them a song. They wondered where I was taking them when Hugh Jackman appeared on the screen. But a song from his new film: This is Me, made all of the hairs stand up on my arms, my foot tap in and my heart beat. I will be using it in an assembly this half-term as the lyrics are so emotive and powerful.  The Power Pose is a source of strength for #womened, this song could be a source of strength, an anthem for our diverse educational community. Most importantly, our grassroots events are amazingly positive and uplifting, but the trolling has already started. I hope that everyone who joined us yesterday, physically and virtually, ignore the haters, take the lonely negative voices with a pinch of salt and tap into the support and positivity of the Diverse Educators community:

“Reach for the sun… Burst through the barriers… Don’t let them break you down to dust… This is me… I make no apologies… Look out here I come!”

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Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The impact this event will have on combining the communities and excited to already be thinking about Diverse Educators II in Jan 2019 – we are thinking 12/1/19 and moving it back a week so more can come
  • The impact that Diverse Leaders will have on our 2nd cohort of delegates – you can register here for our free #BAMEed leadership development programme: https://goo.gl/forms/pQN8cn7Iw3zOPf5I2
  • Supporting the launch of #LGBTed
  • Advocating the developments of #BAMEed and @TFBAMEcommunity
  • What #WomenEd will achieve in our 4th year

Currently reading and thinking about:

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Everyone who came to Aureus yesterday – all of the speakers who volunteered their time for free, all of the exhibitors who provided resources, refreshments (Veema), gave out books (Leadership Matters) and discounted CPD (TES Institute) to our audience
  • Pen who captured the opening discussions and reflections brilliantly.
  • Claire Birkenshaw for educating me and making me more trans aware over pizza and wine!

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#WomenEd 2017: #10%braver

At our first #womened unconference, in London, October 2015 the fabulous Sue Cowley did our opening key note.

She unintentionally coined our mantra: #10%braver.

Why did this phrase resonate so much with our community?

We hear often that Confidence is an inhibitor for many women in education, holding them back from making the leap to leadership. Hence why it is one of our 8 Cs. (Captured below in our values graphic that Pen Mendonca captured for us).

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The inner glass ceiling is often as reinforced as the external one. We need to learn how to navigate and smash both!

The Confidence Gap is often exasperated once women become parents and gaps appear in their journeys. The pace of our system means it is hard to keep up which is why it is fab we are collaborating with MaternityCPD on supporting those parents on maternity leave who want to keep their hand in.

So, as a community,  we claimed the marginal gains model – we do not ask women to be 100% braver, just 10% and to lean in to the incremental growth in confidence.

Further to this we often invite our community to do shout outs for themselves and others to celebrate our achievements. We get quite frustrated at the trend we see – we are better at congratulating the impact of our peers rather than acknowledging and owning our own achievements.

One of our co-founders and national leaders,  Vivienne Porritt with womenedWM regional leader Kiran Satti thus coined the extension #10%prouder and I added #10%louder!

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So with all of the end of year reflections (see quick links below if you want to get involved) circulating on Twitter this festive season we invited our community to be #10%prouder and #10%louder and tell us their achievements and their impact that they are celebrating as we move into 2018. Check some of them out below!

#oneword2018

#nurture1718

#teacher5aday pledge 

Check out the 30 highlights of the diverse impact of our #10%braver mantra on the #womened community in 2017 – what I love is how each one embodies our community values and personify our 8Cs:

Andrea Williams-Jones: “I told my story at IWD LeadMeet; hosted a WomenEd birthday party; became a WomenEdSW regional leader; led a workshop at Unconference and I hope that I’ve lived my values and not laminated them!”

Anoara Mughal: “Became 10%braver 2017 by: completing my first term as an AHT, becoming regional lead for , speaking at 3 conferences (one with 150 educators!), blogging, writing blogs for & for , developing sec. school library by networking, setting up .”

Bukky Yusuf: “1/ by: *set up own consultancy *worked in schools in different parts of Lndn (right out of comfort zone) *said yes to as many opps as I could e.g. joined Teacher Tech Board *did podcasts via *gave Sci training in NI (& got on a plane!)”

Caro Fenice: “Nothing spectacular, challenges for me like speaking in public (and loving it) writing (something I have always told myself I am rubbish at, applying for things out of my comfort zone and feeling proud for trying, even if nothing came of it. Making plans for the 1st time ever”

Carol Campbell: “My top #10%braver moments (had to go to 4): 1. Co-founding 2. Co-authoring 2 books in top new releases 3. Speaking to largest audience so far, 3000+ 4. Engaging with Ontarians about improving student assessment”.

Ceri Stokes: “I was #10%braver and hosted my first safeguarding conference at my sch bringing local companies together including the local ballet sch, bus company, nursery’s, football teams, doctors and many more and had present so good”.

Christalla Jamil: “Successfully supported another school – training for executive headship because of you! Excited about growing my staff and doing what’s right for my whole community”

Clare Erasmus: “10% braver became regional leader for , signed a book deal with , speaking at DiversityED, Southern rocks and wrote strong blog campaigning against bullying in the workplace”.

Elizabeth Wright: “ and I decided to be brave (very much a character strength) and asked if we could write a character education book for them – and they said yes!!!”

Emily Rankin: “Became a mom through adoption and had my 1st year as DHT! Spoke at global conference, organized unconference, & am new regional lead for . Working on my speaking skills and hoping to help other women (and my daughter) be #10%braver. Love !”

Fiona McSorley: “Lots braver this year. from teaching, volunteering as a trustee and supporting the next generation of . All with the support of and . Note to self for next year, write more!”

Gill Kelly: “Started a business . Became HT of a state boarding school (new to me), got a book deal (leadership from the edge…non euro centric/ corporate/ male stereotypes), expanded international business. A thrilling thing is being coached by – spoke my truth.”

Hannah Gregory: “ #10%braver – 1. ran a workshop at following dipping toe into blogging and actually enjoyed it 2. Suggesting we change #10%braver to so it links and becomes searchable”

Heather Greatbatch: “Moved to a new school after 9 years Led my own department for the first time Took on first SLT role Came to first event Got my first tattoo”

Helen Shapter: “Brave enough to say yes to first leadership role. Loving it. I don’t need to be 100% convinced I can do it before doing it.”

Jennifer Hawkins: “I got my theory book with teacher research stories published by a big publisher worldwide after being turned down by another because they thought teachers wouldn’t understand it! I proved a new psychological academic theory of learning & am now writing another book!”

Inspiring Teachers: “Became 10%braver by competing my first term as AHT, attending my first teachmeet, continually giving a voice to students on the periphery”.

Karen Wespieser: “Only woman on panel , opinion piece in , started , confronted on grammar schools”.

Katy Brown: ” Christmas Eve reflection on my 2017 #10%braver. Presenting my work on narrowing the gap at the British library, stepping out of my school and into consultancy with partner schools, and signing up to run a workshop for in March. 2018 will be my year!”

Kellie Davies: “Said goodbye to negative and its opened doors to positive…. bring on 2018.”

Lena Carter: “My #10% braver has been staying instead of running away, showing my true self, making my voice heard and being honest. None of which would have been possible without the support of my tribe”.

Lesley Munro: “Moved to a new school after 12 years. First SLT role. Offered venue for for next March and will be speaking there”.

Louise Lindley: “Bit late to the party but in 2017 I: Delivered whole school training Became Head of English Really delved into edutwitter and overhauled my teaching”.

Lyndsay Bawden: “Applied for and got my first SLT job, and a new job with an exam board as a subject expert. 12 months ago I wouldn’t have considered either role, let alone applied. Very much inspired by all the great people on Twitter – thank you!”

Mary Bridget Burns: “I am soon to be sworn in as a county-level commissioner for a Regional Commission on the Status of Women. My participation in certainly encouraged me to apply to the !”

Michelle Forrest: “1. I put myself out there and wrote my first blog. 2. Stopped trying to appear strong and in control and admitted I needed (and asked for) advice and help from the team a lot more. 3. Put children and their individual needs ahead of their potential to meet ‘Expected’”.

Nat Wilcox: “Spoke at the and became a regional leader for Took on a new role as DP and am loving leading on T&L.”

Nicola Sass Jones: “Built on success of a small scale local pilot project & applied for substantial funding in round 1. Now training over 20 SLES from 4 TSAs to support over 60 schools across the South West”.

Sam at Schoolwell: “Accepted invite from to be on panel at , presented at , reviewed books for and , collaborated with and met so many inspirational people! Quite a year for me”.

Susan Strachan: “I have written 100 blogs, presented at on building girls’ confidence, presented at & recorded my first eeekk youtube video. has encouraged & supported a wonderful bunch”.

Victoria Hall: “Moved to a post allowing me to get back to happy, presented at leadmeet about my journey, moved home to Sheffield and developed a strong edu-network back here. The new year will bring new challenge, a house move and maybe new post. Here is to

Thank you all for sharing your impact in 2017 and keep those tweets coming #womened #10%braver

Silhouette of a happy girl dancing in celebration of the New Year 2017 at sunset. If you needed convincing to connect with the #womened tribe, or needed a nudge to attend one of our #womened events, or needed some evidence to convince someone else why they should come – hopefully these testimonials will share the love and the magic of this community of phenomenal women in education!

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The impact we will make in our 4th year!

Currently reading and thinking about:

Currently feeling grateful for:

Talent Management: Flexible Teaching

I am delighted to have been asked to become a Flexible Champion for @Flexteaching My blog for them is here: http://www.flexibleteaching.co.uk/blog/ 

How can we encourage more schools to offer Flexible Teaching Opportunities?

Recruitment, Retention, Talent Spotting and Succession Planning are recurring themes for the #womened community, I have not held nor attended an event yet since we started 2.5 years ago when this has not come up in conversation.

Last year I attended a conference by the Guardian Education team who had published a report on their research into the state of the education profession. They analyses the data of why we don’t have enough teachers and leaders. Ultimately we have more leaving then we do training, but rather than throwing incentives to encourage more graduates to train, why are we not unpicking the reasons preventing trained, experienced teachers from staying in the profession?

I was not shocked to hear that the significant demographic leaving teaching were women, between 30-39. The irony and ongoing dichotomy of our profession is that we prioritise the children of others, over our own children.

When I became a Headteacher Designate last year I pledged to ensure that all roles advertised were open to flexibility where possible. As a consequence I have a 4 day a week AHT, a 4 day a week ArtLP and a 3 day a week PE LP. The AHT does outreach and consultancy on his 5th day, our Art LP is going to spend some time on her own portfolio and our PE LP has two small children. As a school with wellbeing as one of our core values it was important to me to ensure that staff could pursue their passions, balance their families and carve out their own career pathways from the get go.

I am conscious with a start up school we are in a unique situation as we can create a new way of doing things. It also suits us to have part-time roles which could grow in to full time roles as the school expands, but this parallels some of our flexible workers who have small children, potentially wanting more hours as their children get older so it suits all of us.

My tips for other schools:

  1. Advertising:

How inclusive is your advert? I made the wording very clear in every advert, every job description and every person specification by including the same standardised sentence that we consider flexible roles.

  1. HR Documents:

The same sentence was echoed in our Person Specifications and Job Description for every teaching, leadership and operational role.

  1. Applications:

I hear all the time, at what point in the process do you ask. Do you drop it into your initial visit, your supporting statement, or at interview? In our case, because we had made it explicit in our recruitment strategy, our candidates made it explicit in their applications. I was already considering how to make it work before I had met them.

  1. Interviews:

Again, I inserted a standardised question into all of my interviews. I asked it at the end of the interview when we were finding out what salary they were seeking and what CPD they needed to support them in the role. By us leading the discussion it diffused the nerves and tension of the candidate wondering when it would be okay to ask and how we would respond so a transparent and open  conversation could take place.

  1. Negotiation:

I have been asked by a lot of #womened colleagues to also share tips, talk and write about how to negotiate your salary. My colleague and fellow co-founder Vivienne Porritt has blogged about this via StaffRm here:

https://staffrm.io/@vivienne/r1klsoBs9G

My advice is always to negotiate but to consider what you value beyond a salary increase. In the past I have negotiated an office, a mobile, a laptop, an admin support, more free periods, a paid for CPD programme more and a relocation package. The one that brought me the most satisfaction was two more free periods. My Headteacher offered me a few more grand but this would have meant more hours  in the evenings and at the weekend. I offered no more money but more non-teaching/ non-duty time. He laughed and thought I was kidding. I was promoted and maintained my wellbeing – so go in prepared, know what you want to ask for, have a gold/ silver/ bronze approach  – I always go in higher/ more demanding than I am prepared to settle – we all leave happy!

  1. Befriend the Timetabler:

In all honesty, besides traditional mindsets the biggest blocker to flexible working in schools is the timetable or the timetabler themselves. Researching and understanding how to make this work will help your negotiations. I often wonder what our timetables would be like if each SLT had a PT leader who did the timetable and was committed to making it work? It would be a game changer. I have heard many a time it is impossible, but I have spent hours at home with posts it and manual colour coded spreadsheets to make it work. Devolved timetabling to middle leaders gives the department some ownership to work as a team on removing some of the barriers and finding some mutually beneficial solutions.

  1. Contact Time:

In secondary schools, it is the Tutor Group, afterschool clubs, detentions and meetings that are the killers when you are trying to carve out flexible hours. Again, our system needs to change to respond to the changes in how we work.  Flipped lessons are a buzz word for our students, how about Flipped CPD and Flipped Meetings for the adult learners? We need to think outside of the box and be more creative about we get the desired outcomes we seek, by doing things differently.

  1. Unconscious Bias Training:

This has come up a lot regarding the launch of #BAMEed and the conception of #LGBTed and #DIisabilityEd. In other industries the senior leaders are all trained. In our schools this is not common practice. I would recommend that if all Governors, Senior Leaders and HR teams who are involved in long listing, short listing, interviewing and making job offers did this training we would see some real change in how we package our roles up.

  1. Middle Leadership:

Co-Headships are in demand from those in the profession but are rarely advertised as a recruitment tool, instead being used as a retention tool.   I understand it is a big risk with a new Headteacher, let alone a pair of new leaders who might not gel. However if schools were more open to job shares and flexibility in the middle leadership where most schools are female heavy, wouldn’t the governors and the system be more ready for shared leadership roles at a senior level including headship?

  1. KIT leave and Return to Teaching/Work

Something I have been looking into is how best to support staff who are going on  or returning from maternity leave. As DHT responsible for CPD and then the professional learning leader across a MAT, I have made some proposals to HR about how we can best support one of our vulnerable groups of staff. I have seen many women lose their confidence and often their TLRs when they come back from having a child. After reading Sandberg’s Lean In I was mortified to think of a colleague traipsing from the furthest parking lot heavily pregnant or not having anywhere to express their milk. Why are our schools so family unfriendly?

Through #womened I have made brilliant connections with women who have  utiliised social media platforms to launch collaborative projects to grow a community such as @MaternityCPD and #MTPTproject, together with Leaders with babies. The DfE have tried but failed to launch a Return to teaching/ return to work scheme which is going through another rebrand.

Ultimately, in my humble opinion I would like see more best practice identified and shared about who is getting this right. Which schools, academies, MATs are nurturing this talent. We cannot keep saying we have a recruitment issues, we need to reflect and realise we have a retention issues. But both issues could be significantly improved if we were more open as a profession to more flexible working models in our schools

Testimonial:

Charlotte James, PE LP Designate, Staff Governor, Mum of 2 and 3 days a week contract

“It’s possible to feel completely lonely in a room full of people and this is my experience when I returned to work after having my first child. Working in a very young PE department, where there had only been one women before me to have a child, there was a real lack of experience and knowledge of how to support me. Quite frankly supporting a women that’s life had completely been turned upside down by having her first child, unless you have had a child yourself  –  is something that is very difficult to understand – but as a leader if you don’t have those experiences first hand then you have to really want to try and understand. The school was a split site school that was incredibly busy and nobody was available often enough to invest their time to help and support me. Furthermore, I was told unless I returned full time I would be unable to continue with my TLR role. However, no other member of staff applied for the role and I was then asked to continue which made me and the role feel under-valued. I felt that staff thought that because I was an experienced teacher I could just pick up from where I left off 12 months ago and be fine. That was quite the opposite where I had never felt so vulnerable standing in front of 30 teenagers before. The KIT days were unstructured and at times I was just used to cover lessons. 

I happened to find Hannah Wilson on Twitter and had the cheek to ask her for some advice regarding how we could improve our maternity package. Hannah invited me for a coffee and naturally the conversation led on to the new school she would be opening September 2017. To be honest I originally thought it sounded too good to be true….with the chance of part-time leaders, which is something I thought I would never find and the thought of that made me feel trapped in my job. Since that day I have never looked back. In my 8 years of teaching I have never been offered so many opportunities to grow and never felt so valued in my contributions. Today my daughter started school and Hannah, @TheHopefulHT, allowed me to arrive to work after I had taken her to school on her first day. This is something that I will always remember and something I will always be eternally grateful for”.

Further reading and useful links:

#WomenEd:

Sarah Hardy is a full time Mummy and part-time leader, she is also one of our #womened regional leaders. Read her advice in Teach Wire here:

https://twitter.com/MsSarahHardy/status/902405542571847680

My earlier blog on co-headship:

https://staffrm.io/@misswilsey/OfTpHRCQau

Leaders with Babies:

https://www.leadersplus.org.uk/

Maternity CPD Project:

http://www.mtpt.org.uk/

DFE Return to Work:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plan-to-make-teaching-a-more-flexible-long-term-career-for-women

2to3days:

https://www.2to3days.com/

GiniBee:

http://www.ginibee.com/

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

The fact we are modelling diversity, equality and inclusion in all of our appointments.

Currently reading and thinking about:

Next on my pile is The Leadership Gap by Lolly Daskal – a present from Kathryn Morgan.

Currently feeling grateful for:

The fantastic commitment of our team at Aureus to make flexibility and wellbeing pledges to one another to ensure that we are family-friendly.

The Power of Facing Your Fears: #Ididitanyway @WomanthologyUK

Fiona Tatton @womanthologyUK founder & editor started the #ididitanyway hashtag on Twitter & LinkedIn last week.

She is crowdfunding a new publication for women & was seeking inspirational stories from women who had faced fears to overcome adversities.

http://www.womanthology.co.uk/

I have pledged because I love what she is doing to raise the profile & amplify the voices of women in STEM, challenging gender stereotypes through publishing.

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This resonated with #womened, our Why, how we connect & what we stand for.

Fellow #WomenEd co-founder & National Leader, Vivienne Porritt, shared our community #ididitanyway in this tweet:

The #ididitanyway testimonials of personal & professional challenges, change & growth have been inspiring to read. It parallels the #womened pledge to be #10%braver.

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Vivienne posted this blog to capture our journey as a community in the last 2 1/2 years:

https://staffrm.io/@vivienne/1EaQ4zlF2m

This year has been a life changing year for me so here is my #ididitanyway story:

18 months ago I resigned from a toxic school culture.

I was told by my then boss that I was committing ‘career suicide’. In my heart I knew I was, in fact, committing career salvation!

Like with any negative relationship sometimes you just need to ‘rip the bandaid’ off! I have broken up with  bad boyfriends. I have moved away from feckless friends. Why do we stay at schools that are unhealthy and in roles where we stagnate?

I listened to my instincts – I knew I was unhappy. I knew I was in a professionally destructive relationship & I was losing myself.

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I was confident enough to know there are more jobs than teachers & lots of schools out there. I am also a strong believer that life is too short to work somewhere which makes you unhappy, for a leader who does not value you.

So I pulled the rip cord.

I then paused, and I waited for opportunities to come to me. I didn’t listen to the voice telling me to find safety/ security/ stability as I didn’t want to ‘jump from the frying pan into the fire’.

I had coaching from some fantastic #womened role models: I revisited my Why; I articulated my values; I visualised the role, school, culture I needed to find; I wrote down my non-negotiables. I did it my way.

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I did my research – I found a role, applied & was offered the role. I then held the power – I negotiated & got the terms I needed to make the leap. I knew that I needed to start the next chapter as I meant to go on. I was adamant that would be no looking back.

#ididitanyway – I changed trusts, I changed cultures, I changed roles, I changed areas, I changed teams. I changed my destiny.

I couldn’t have done it without the support of the #womened community, without my tribe of fellow women leading in education to lean on.

When friends, family & colleagues ask me why I invest so much of my time & energy in the #womened community & movement this is my explanation.

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We have each others’ backs. We support one another, we fortify our resilience, we nurture our ambition. We are a team with a collective vision, common mission and shared values.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

The impact of #womened on a community of female school leaders.


Currently reading and thinking about:

I have loved reading all of the cross-sector  #ididitanyway tweets showing tenacity despite adversity.


Currently feeling grateful for:

Social media for connecting like-minded people, helping us to find & raise our voice, plus amplify the voice of others.

 

#TEDxNorwichED: Diverse Dreams

So yesterday I took on the personal and professional challenge of presenting at #TEDxNorwichEd.

You can watch my #TEDx talk on Diverse Dreams here:

My original transcript is detailed below (I missed a few bits out and improvised by adding the anecdotes at the end in!)

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Martin Luther King had a dream, a big dream. He had a dream about social integration not social segregation. He spearheaded making that dream a reality and creating a land of equal opportunities.

We all have dreams. Big and small. I have diverse dreams. I have dreams about diversity.

Before I share my dreams with you I would like to share my realities with you.

I have taught and led in South London for 12 years and invite you to come on a journey with me to visit one of these schools. As we go on this journey I want you to focus on your senses and the details, zooming in on the faces and listening to the voices of the different people who we meet.

Imagine:

  • We meet in Tooting near the market – we hear a variety of different languages being spoken in this cultural melting pot.
  • We jump on a bus – we see a range of different people from different places.
  • We are greeted at the school gates by the SLT – 3 white male school leaders.
  • We are guided across the playground by Nikkita our guide  -we hear a cacophany of different languages and accents being spoken.
  • We are shown through reception – we notice the beautiful black and white photos of happy children creating memories of micro-moments.
  • We enter an English classroom – Year 8 are studying war poetry, the walls are covered in images of war poets and war soldiers – all white men.
  • We stop in the corridor to admire a big, bold, bright display – Nikkita explains it is October so it black history month, the month we celebrate diversity.
  • We meet the Senior Leadership Team – 3 white men.
  • We notice the leadership photos and Governing Body photos on the boardroom wall – predominantly white men.
  • We sign out and leave the school, our final impression being the black and white photos.

The realities of our education system.

Despite beautiful black and white photos of beautiful black and white children celebrating diverse communities framed on the walls and plastered on our school websites and prospectus, most of our schools are more like a Dulux colour chart – our schools get paler (and maler) the higher up the hierarchy you progress. Sadly, this leadership model does not reflect the communities we serve

I have taught in schools in South London for 12 years, schools which are predominantly populated with children from diverse backgrounds 55-60% to be precise. In 3 schools, on 3 leadership teams, 3 boardrooms and only had 2 BAME SLT colleagues, both women.

What message are we sending to our young people when black women clean our schools and white men lead our schools? 

In our schools we advocate a growth mindset for learning but do we advocate a growth mindset for leading?

How are we inspiring the next generation to be anything they set their hearts on?

So I have diverse dreams, I have dreams about:

  • Diverse classrooms – where teachers with different cultural experiences share their cultural heritage.
  • Diverse curriculum – where the writers, poets, scientists, historians we are study are from a range of different backgrounds.
  • Diverse corridors – where displays celebrate the global majority instead of the ethnic minority.
  • Diverse role models – where a range of visitors and speakers who represent our diverse society are invited in to inspire our next generation of teachers and leaders.

I have dreams about:

  • Diverse Senior Leadership Teams – who challenge our systemic barriers.
  • Diverse Governance – who champion our diverse leaders.
  • Diverse politicians – who understand our diverse communities.
  • Diverse policy makers – who promote our diverse society.

Different faces in each of these different places.

Diverse thinkers making diverse decisions about our classrooms, our schools, our education system being made by a group diverse leaders who represent the diverse community who will be affected. Not group think  by the privileged elite.

I dream about diverse champions:

  • Who all take collective responsibility for under-representation.
  • Who we all challenge the unconscious biases.
  • Who all champion and celebrate difference.

I dream about diverse changemakers – where we all make the invisible visible, where we all showcase the hidden figures in our schools.

Women need #heforshe advocates and BAME need white allies to champion for change.

So, how do I want us to inspire the next generation?

I want us to all inspire the next generation by dreaming about diversity:

  • By not just dreaming about diversity, but by making these diverse dreams into diverse realities.
  • By talking about diversities, not just diversity, we will inspire the next generation.
  • By appreciating that diversity is more than just a difference in skin tone.
  • By looking beyond the visible differences and seeking out the invisible differences too.

In my diverse dreams:

  • Our school system inspires a diverse workforce where diverse people become professionals
  • Our multi-cultural schools are led by multi-cultural school teachers and school leaders

So I ask you all to

  • Open your minds
  • Open your eyes
  • Open your ears
  • Open your hearts
  • Open your mouths

By connecting with our values, by living our values we are enabled to actively seek to change – if we value diversity then we need to live diversity – our behaviours and our actions need to reflect it too.

We need to see it. We need to say it. We need to challenge it. We need to champion it. We need to believe it.

If as a society we truly believe in and standby diversity then we need to ensure that diversities drive our decision making and our actions.

So I demand you all to #beboldforchange. To be white allies.

  • Together we are stronger
  • Together we are taller
  • Together we are bolder

By being bold for change, we can ensure that we achieve meaningful diversity.

By being bold together we can affect systemic change by inspiring the next generation.

By inspiring the next generation we will open doors and create opportunities for a diverse workforce.

I hope that we will all begin to realise not my, but our, diverse dreams.

Together, let’s inspire a diverse generation.

Anecdote 1:

Leading the Diversity and Equalities Grant for 75 #BAMEed leaders has been eye opening. At our launch in South London, we caused a stir. BAME students walked past and came back to check out what was going on. They had never seen such a density of black and Asian people together before. The delegates found it entertaining and commented -they only used to seeing a group like this when there is trouble, they think we are starting a riot – but we are creating a revolution.

Anecdote 2:

I have been asked to speak at 3 national events in the last 2 months to speak about Diversity and Equality. When I checked who else was on the line up via the draft programme, there was no BAME representation.   I challenged the organisers and refused to speak unless they recitified this.

Anecdote 3:

There are 27,000 Headteachers in the UK, only 270 are BAME. We believe there is only 1 BAME CEO in the UK school system. Approximately 8% of our teachers are BAME, 1 in 4 of our students are BAME but you only have a 1/100 chance of becoming a BAME Headteacher.

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I also blogged via StaffRm #womened about my journey and experience of public speaking: https://staffrm.io/@misswilsey/FPprXtamJI

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Challenging our school communities to champion the multiplicity of ‘diversities’ and not just ‘diversity’
  • Calling more ‘white allies’ to be change agents and champion #BAMEed and Diverse Leaderssr

Currently reading and thinking about:

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Jaz Ampaw-Farr for challenging Natalie Scott and I to submit an application for #TEDxNorwichEd – it is ‘Because of You’ my dear!
  • Amjad Ali, Jen Hart, Jaz and Natalie as the #TEDxNorwichEd team  -you are a fab tribe to be part of.
  • Amy Harvey and Leah Stewart – we couldn’t have asked for better coaches and champions.
  • Annemarie Williams – your advice and constructive feedback on my content and delivery but much appreciated.
  • Faye Kilgour, Action Jackson, Nick Corston and Julie Hunter for traveling to Norwich to be cheerleaders us.
  • Everyone online who has tweeted and commented words of encouragement and support.

#SENDed: “Making the invisible visible”

Just under a year ago Anita Kerwyn-Nye rang me to ask if the Harris Federation would be interested in participating in a MAT pilot on peer-to-peer SEND reviewing. It was a DfE funded project and we would work in collaboration with AET. I had just started my secondment as the Professional Learning Leader across the MAT and the TSA; my remit from the CEO and the Director of Education was to make our system leadership and CPD offer more outward-facing, so it seemed like a great opportunity to start as I meant to go on.

So I found myself as a named representative of educational stakeholders on the Whole SEND steering group. To be clear, I am not a SEND specialist, I am a T&L/Professional Learning leader and I have an inclusive value set. It is not very often I feel like an imposter, but I can remember entering the room for the first meeting last spring – it was like the SEND super group. Everyone who was anyone (in the twitter bubble at least) for SEND was there – Anita, David Bartram and the London Leadership Strategy had assembled all of the SEND powerhouses including Vijita Patel, Nancy Gedge, Simon Knight, Jarlath O’Brien, Dr Adam Boddison, Rob Webster and representatives from organisations like LKMCO, NASEN, NET and the Driver Youth Trust. I was suitably impressed and knew that this group meant business. I also knew that I would be challenged and would learn a lot!

A year later, a series of Whole SEND steering group meetings, audits and reviews have culminated today in a fantastic #SENDed inaugural summit.

Keynotes:

Anita Kerwyn-Nye – set the context of the SEND landscape and shared personal stories about being the Mum of children being diagnosed with additional educational needs, potentially be failed by the system. Anita shared the community of practice behind  and made it clear that not everything that makes a difference costs. It’s about attitude too.

“What we have to do is support the teachers, charities and individuals trying to make children’s lives better”.

“We need to be an inclusive society. We need diversity of thought. We need some different thinking in our schools. “We need diversity of thought to solve the world’s problems”.

“The measure of a civilisation is how we treat our weakest members. We need to raise our children to be kind”.

David Bartram – reminded us that all parents and educators, everywhere in the world have the same  hopes and dreams for their children. He shared his visits to various countries to consult on SEND provision as the UK are seen as the experts in this field. He outlined the framework and how the SEND audit can be used as tool for system-led improvements in SEND provision through peer review. He posed the following question to the room: We spend 1 Million minutes in school. How are you using those minutes for children in your schools?

“SEND needs to sit at the heart of educational policy, it is not separate”.

“We need to breath some confidence back into the system. Great school-based practice exists. We need to share it”.

“We need to demystify what great SEND practice looks like”.

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Vijita Patel – I have not yet visited Swiss Cottage but  I have heard Vijita speak a lot about the holistic learning experience that they have created for their learning community. Vijita shared the fundamental aim of the Whole SEND review to bring practitioners together. She also championed that a SEND label does not need to define a child’s potential or experience.

“We need to help the wider community to understand the potential of SEND learners. We need to advocate next steps”.

“Sitting at the heart of the SEND Review Guide is the potential of each and every child”.

“We need inclusive values at the core of our schools’ cultures. We need nurture led school provision”.

Edward Timpson – our Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, spoke passionately as a father, not sounding at all like a politician about the vision he has for the system and SEND reform. He highlighted creativity in schools & the potential of best practice feeding through the system. He was very open that many schools are not doing enough for children with SEND.

“We have an opportunity but also a responsibility to make the system work for all CYP with SEND”.

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Round tables and networking:

A series of SEND professionals chaired round table discussions on a series of themes and issues to represent the #collectivevoice of the profession.

I spent the time catching up with: NASEN, The Driver Youth Trust and the Special Needs Jungle – each giving me insight on my responsibility as a Headteacher and school leader to lead inclusively whilst challenging the system.

“You got to see it to be it” Panel:

Simon Knight – set the scene by exploring the contradiction of SEND being highly visible and invisible at the same time, he paralleled the hyper visibility and hyper accountability of PP provision funding and provision to what we need for SEND.

“We need to focus on the needs of the learners and not the needs of the system!”

“Very often there is not a learning difficulty, there is a teaching difficulty  -a barrier for one is a barrier for the other!”

George Fielding – I have heard him speak before and he always moves me. As a Whizz Kid ambassador, an under graduate and the first wheel chair user to achieve his DoE he is an inspiring and empassioned speaker about his rights as “a proud man, a proud Brit and a proud disabled person”.

“Difference and diversity makes Britain the country that it is”. 

“We have to help young people with become proud of who they are”.

“There are four Ls for me – people with SEND can learn, love, and lead but must not be limited”.

Allana Gay – as a founding regional leader for #womened, Allana has recently co-founded #bameed. She shared the data for representation of BAME educators and addressed the issue of inter-sectionality. As a woman, a black woman, a black woman who is an immigrant she shared her frustration at the multiple layers of   her complex identity and the unconscious biases she needs to navigate. She called out the leadership ladder in most schools as “getting paler” the higher you looked. I would add to this that it gets “maler” too.

“London is a melting pot, but too often our teachers do not represent that diversity”.

“With Education management gets paler as you go up the hierarchy. Educator voices do not reflect our communities”.

“In a real meritocracy we all start on a level playing field”.

Myself – I shared our journey as #womened, and the work I have been doing in the Diversity and Equality space through the NCTL funding for Teaching Schools. I questioned who was collating the data and who was reviewing the allocation and the impact of the grants. I invited the audience to consider the language we use as Diversity and Equality are singular terms and are misleading. ‘Diversities’ encompasses multiplicities, complexities and pluralities better.

“There’s a lot being done about diversity – what we need to talk about is diversities”.

“Data shows .5% of teacher have SEND, but the total number of adults with SEND is 20%”. (via Chris Rossiter, Driver Youth Trust)

Jon Severs – as commissioning editor of the TES, shared the work they are doing on representation of voices and experiences in the educational press.  He reminded us that we should not assume SEND knowledge but that we need to support the acquisition of knowledge and debate it, destigmatising it and using layman language to communicate it to a wider audience, more simply.

“The biggest challenge with SEND in the media is its complexities!”

“Need to find language to tell stories about SEND without creating victims”.

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#WomenEd have spent 2 years campaigning for diversity and equality, inclusive panels and to “diminish the differences” in under-represented groups in the education system. Today felt like a big step forward. We have lots more steps to take, there are no quick fixes.

We all need to challenge, we all need to model, we all need to champion, we all need to celebrate the diversities in our classrooms, schools and in our society.

Actions I would like to see as a result of today:

  • A network of SEND leaders and partners to work collaboratively in finding collective solutions to common issues
  • An opportunity for a series of events including one targeting Headteachers and Governors
  • A reform re the requirements of SEND provision for ITT and the skills gap closure for Quality First Teaching across the system
  • A statutory requirement for all schools to have a qualified SENDco and a named SEND lead on every SLT who needs to refresh their training every year like the DSL does for safeguarding practice
  • Hyper accountability for SEND provision in all schools like we have for PP

Seeing this Guardian Jobs advert advocating a diverse workforce on the train on the way home filled me with hope though:

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Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Challenging our school communities to champion the multiplicity of ‘diversities’ and not just ‘diversity’
  • Affecting change across the system for all learners to enable all to thrive or in George’s words ‘love, learn and lead’ but be ‘limited’ by their learning needs
  • Embedding the value of inclusion into our curriculum at Aureus where we will strive to holistically educate the WHOLE CHILD so that all will be nurtured

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The #SENDed tweets – catching up the day’s activities
  • Reading Vic Goddard’s blog on inclusion and  ‘botheredness’

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The brilliant keynotes this morning from Anita, David, Vijita and Edwards Timpson the Minister for Vulnerable Learners
  • The fantastic educators I met today in the audience, the sessions, on the panel and the exhibiting organisations

International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldForChange

#IWD17:

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8th March each year, it is a global celebration of the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women. The theme for 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. Let’s make #IWD17 a day for our students and schools to reflect on the global progress made to challenge gender inequalities around the world. Use the virtual toolkit to focus discussions, reflections and activities.

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#WomenEd:

As a global community that connects existing and aspiring women in education, our aim is simple to support women on their journeys as educators and to collectively challenge some of the systemic barriers that disable women from having choice in their career progression. Our community values champion having courage, working collaboratively and affecting change. This year’s #IWD17 theme really resonates with the #WomenEd community as it is #BeBoldForChange.   The impact of the #WomenEd community is being seen and heard through the testimonials of the educators who have been coached and supported to be #10%braver. Each small step moves us closer to reducing the confidence gap and the pay gap. We are an inclusive community who champion one another’s achievements.

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Collaboration:

Our community partnerships and collaborations across the system are enabling women leading in education to grow their tribe and grow their confidence. We are working with two of our partner organisations, and many of our community, on a virtual toolkit for #IWD17 for educators round the world to access and use in their classrooms.

Action Aid:

ActionAid UK works with women and girls across 45 countries to understand and claim their rights, whether that’s the right to education, to run their own business or to live a life free from violence:

“We believe in supporting girls to understand the power they have to challenge and change the world. This toolkit, curated by #WomenEd, is a fantastic way for teachers to energise the girls in their school to be “10% braver” so we are delighted to get involved”.

We are recording a conversation between women’s rights campaigners Jessica Njui from The Africa Youth Trust in Nairobi, a partner of ActionAid and Caroline Jones from ActionAid UK. They will be discussing the question: ‘How can girls #beboldforchange?’ We’re hoping they will be joined by a surprise celebrity guest! The final video will be posted here for you to access and share: http://po.st/IWD2017

Action Aid are currently seeking questions for the campaigners from girls across the country; please send your questions to schools@actionaid.org with the name, age and school of the girls who asked the questions.

Dauntless Daughters:

To celebrate International Women’s Day Worcestershire-based illustrator Steph Green has teamed up with #WomenEd to produce the #BeBoldforChange Virtual Toolkit: which is available to all educators for free!

When her oldest daughter got interested in space, rockets and astronauts, Steph looked around for images that would reflect her child in this role. “There was nothing, so I drew her myself.” says Steph. From the astronaut it snowballed, with Steph drawing a whole crew of Dauntless Daughters. “After I started to share the illustrations on social Media, Hannah from #WomenEd got in touch and asked if I would like to get involved in the toolkit. We really wanted to give the toolkit some personality and so the character Abbie Bold came to life.”

Steph continues, “Every day our daughters encounter little messages and big signs telling them what to do, what items to wear, and the books to read, reinforcing the supposed limitations of being a girl and which box they have to go in. It is 2017 and we say ‘enough’.”

Meet Abbie Bold:

When Hannah Wilson from #WomenEd spoke to Daniel Wardle from the Action Aid Schools’ Team and Dauntless Daughters’ founder Steph Green about the collaboration, they decided that an avatar to personify the #IWD17 theme would capture the hearts and the minds of the educational community.

Abbie Bold is bold by name and bold by nature. She represents all of the young girls in classrooms around the world with bold hopes and dreams for the future. Dreams of smashing the gender stereotypes of how to behave, what to think and what to like.

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Our Virtual Toolkit:

We asked our contributors to share their motivation for creating a resource to share with the #IWD17 and #WomenEd community:

“I wanted to create resources or vehicles for reflection that would help a group of young girls move forward with purpose and intent. To validate themselves by the thoughts and actions they choose to believe in. I hope they harness the power of perception and look inwards to help them reflect on the future they have the power to create”.  Kiran Satti, primary school teacher, Midlands

 “The resource is designed to get students and even teachers thinking about the importance of women and women as role models. It’s vital that young people have others to look up to and aspire to. Equally, I place importance on them to be able to identify those same qualities and attributes in the everyday ‘real’ people around them so they have ‘real life’ role models to aspire to become”.  Genevieve Bent, Head of Chemistry, London

 “I am contributing to help inspire, educate and inform the female leaders of tomorrow. My resource will encourage wide ranging discussion, airing and challenging stereotypes. I hope it will help students question inequalities they encounter and make bolder choices”. Frances Ashton, secondary school leader, Oxfordshire

“IWD can be just another date in the busy International calendar for teachers to find something interesting to teach. I wanted to contribute to raise the profile of this global issue in an engaging way for the next generation and to help classroom teachers have a resource they can quickly put in place with maximum impact. As a classroom teacher dipping in and finding a resource starts the conversation going about be bold. Sharing how people have used the resource can continue the message. It would be good to ask people to share what they did. Social media is a good starting point, PSHE association may share the link but the Educational press has a far reach meaning maximised awareness of it being available TES and BBC. Sharing the message be bold for change with students helps them realise that they have the ability to change things. This resource enables teachers and students to notice inequality in the world, to consider their opinion and decide upon their response”. Julie Hunter, secondary school leader, Wiltshire

I knew at the age of 14, my passion and destiny was to work in the field of education and invest in next generation leaders.  Everything I do centres around my vision and mission. Use it to define what’s working & what’s not. Strengthen what is working & change what it is not. Acceptance & change are powerful concepts to embrace for all individuals, especially leaders. The resource starts the dialogue in a safe environment.  Hopefully it will equip individuals with the ‘how to’ as well.  It’s all about sowing seeds & enabling them to flourish”. Anita Devi, educational consultant, Buckinghamshire

“Success is driven by expectation and our language can empower or tear down our expectations. By reflecting on and being mindful of the words we use when engaging with challenges. Use the “Reframe: Can’t Don’t and Won’t” video to trigger reflection and discussion with your class or tutor group”. Jaz Ampaw-Farr, educational consultant, Buckinghamshire.

“Based on the Lean In concept of having ‘workplace allies’, the resource hopes to stimulate discussion about how we support, champion and advocate for women in school, group situations and the workplace. It highlights the embedded cultural practices that can hold back or diminish women’s strengths and talents and offers an opportunity to investigate solutions that both women and men can pursue, together. If we can change these habits by highlighting and modelling them with young people as well as adults in schools, then we might be able to break through what we don’t realise is taken for granted as ‘normal’.” Rosanna Raimato, educational consultant, Italy.

 “If we want to improve diversity and equality in terms of leadership in the future, we have to get girls in particular involved in leadership now, while they are forming their ideas about leadership and what it means to them. Our resource is a PowerPoint created by girls aged 7 to 11 to share with teachers based on the girls’ own research. It is a model that schools have used to open up gender equality discussions with staff and pupils. It could support whole school CPD looking at inequality in the classroom or be used as a discussion set of questions for children in PSHW or student council sessions. It is hoped that schools may want to then design and carry out their own questionnaire with their own students”.  Annemarie Williams, Executive Headteacher and CEO, Midlands

 “International Women’s Day is such an important opportunity for all of us, however we identify, to think about how we can be bolder, but also to ask questions about the structures and attitudes which continue to discriminate, particularly against certain ‘groups’ of people. Whose are the voices that are rarely heard in popular debates about feminism? What about those who don’t access the internet? What about the health and income inequalities facing older and/or disabled girls and women (and their families) in the UK, as well as those in other countries? If we want to address child poverty, are we listening to and supporting single mothers? Let’s be 10% bolder, encourage those we teach to be 10% bolder, but let’s also widen and diversify our networks”. Pen Mendonca, Graphic Facilitator, London  

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One of our contributors, Yinka Ewuola reflected on “How to be B.O.L.D for change…”

B is for Belief… Beliefs are absolutely everything. “Whether you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, you are absolutely right”. What you believe of yourself is everything about your potential, as you are the only one standing in your own way. How you allow the beliefs of others to impact and change the way you feel about your life, possibilities and expectations is just as important: ‘You can’t do that…’ ‘Girls don’t do that…’ They are the limits of others that they are trying to put on you… and no matter the intention – these will harm you. You need to decide what you believe about you, about whether you are going to be, whatever it is you want to be, and then go act on that. Ask ‘why’ (not to others, but to yourself) you can’t, won’t, shouldn’t do the things that you are working to achieve and then set those limiting beliefs aside for new ones… Believe you are worth it. Believe it will be ok. Believe you deserve to be there and have the good things you are experiencing… Believe change is worth choosing and you will do all you can to make it a reality.

O is for One Step Because we are the queens of plans, which means that we try and work out 26 steps ahead, and if we can’t always see exactly where we are going, then you feel trapped and paralysed and confused. But “The journey of 1000 miles, begins with a baby step” – what you need is just one small step in the right general direction. And then another… And then another… Boldness comes from understanding that smaller steps will lead to bigger, brighter places. Hell, even a step in the wrong direction is better than no step at all – action always beats inaction, and you can always course correct in motion – so be bold and take just one step.

L is for Learning and Leading from the Heart Boldness is a heart set… The word Courage is derived from the word  ‘Cor’ which is the Latin word for heart (as Brené Brown reminds us). So what does that courage look like every day? Speaking honestly from our hearts is a great place to start… It’s also about understanding what’s going on with our fear… It’s about understanding that the fear will come… It’s about knowing, expecting it… Because so long as you don’t let those fears stop you. ‘When fear is what you’re feeling (and you’re still doing), Brave is what you are doing’. But learning is so important for boldness… We become bolder after we fail at things (believe it or not) because failure gives us stepping stones for improvements.

D is for Difference See, because even though we are grown up and off the playground – we are still trying way to hard to fit in. And blend in… And to be small, and hidden, and not to noticeable or leery… But we were born to stand out. Boldness comes from understanding that all those things are unique about you are there for the reason you are here… There is nothing more important than making a difference. And the only way to make a difference is to be different. Remember how to be bold for change. Yinka Ewuola, primary school Chair of Governors, London

Please share the free virtual #BeBoldForChange toolkit for #IWD17 far and wide:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1AxQ9bWcYaXSy02UTBEYjVBSjA

The resources are there to provoke thinking and stimulate discussions in your classrooms and schools. Thank you everyone from the #WomenEd community who has contributed.

Other ways to engage with #IWD17:

Blogging:

Contribute to the #BeBoldForChange #Digimeet on StaffRm on Sunday 5th March.

https://staffrm.io/@misswilsey/xqPZu5VJ7I 

Events:

Attend a #WomenEd #LeadMeet for #IWD17 – we have events taking place simultaneously in Bristol, Cambridge, Leicester, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Uffcolme and The Netherlands on 8th March. We also have regional #WomenEd events on March 4th in London, March 10th in Milton Keynes, March 11th in Coventry, March 25th in Leeds. All of our events are free and listed on Eventbrite, just search #WomenEd.

Tweeting:

Follow the hashtags on Twitter: #IWD17 #BeBoldForChange #womened

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Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The power of collaboration – I met Steph Green, founder of Dauntless Daughters on twitter 3 weeks ago – what we have curated and she has created in 2 weeks is amazing!

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I have scan read each of the resouces from the #womened community contributors, I now need to go back and reflect on each one

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The generosity of my #PLN and the #strongertogether spirit of the educators I am connected with.

Networking: Connection, Community, Collaboration

Networking can sometimes be a dirty word for teachers. For the cynics out there we don’t go into teaching to become corporate and to behave as business people do. For the optimists out there, we go into teaching to make a difference – we can do this alone, head down, in our individual classrooms or we can see ourselves as being part of something bigger, contributing to the system rather than a school.  In a lot of other industries networking is an expectation, an opportunity to connect with the community, to communicate what you are doing, to create collaborations. When described like this we see that it is aligned with what we do in education too.

Networking has become a hot topic in education, for those of us who engage in it or those who are intrigued by it. In the last few weeks I have been asked to contribute to several educational events to share my networking story and to encourage others to appreciate the potential power of their Professional Learning Network.

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I think these 3 values embody for me why I network:

Connection:

I meet people who I would not normally connect with. Each connection starts a new professional relationship. Many of these professional connections have grown into personal friendships with people who I would not have met had I not put myself out there. Each connection brings value to me as a person, as a professional but equally brings value back into my school community which will ultimately impact the children. I share my connections and am constantly introducing people who are working on similar projects or who are exploring similar ideas.

Community:

Teaching can be a lonely place if you spend hours in your classroom by yourself. Leading can be a lonely place if you spend hours in your office out of hours, and work in a school where it is them against us. Networking raises you above the local politics and drops you into a space with people who get you, get your situation but who are also seeking different ways of doing things, different ways of working together to find solutions to our challenges.

Collaboration:

This for me is the most exciting bit. Once you have invested in making the connections and grown your community, it is the collaborations that spawn out of this space that create the buzz. Through #womened #bameed #teacher5aday, 3 of the communities who I connect and collaborate with, the opportunities to get involved in things have been endless. A great example of this is the #iwd17 virtual toolkit a group of us are working on for 8/3. Dauntless Daughters, Action Aid, WomenEd and 30 educators contributing a resource each which will then be shared far and wide for others to benefit from.

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Here are my reflections from the events I have been asked to attend and speak at about the Power of the #PLN.

Leading Women’s Alliance #SeizingOpps:

I attended a year ago as DHT, I returned this year as a new HT. Carol and Kate, 2 of the organisers, asked me to share how networking has opened doors and created opportunities for me, personally and professionally. Through Twitter I have met coaches who have helped me to process who I am as a leader and clarify what my vision is. Through reading blogs and finding events to attend through eventbrite  I went to a lot of educational events last year. I met people I knew Twitter for a coffee at these events. One of these coffees was with Jon, my new CEO, he wasn’t recruiting, I wasn’t hunting for a new job but a conversation led to a new door being opened.

#TFAmbassadors event:

The Local Engagement Officers for Teach First London North, South, East and West asked me to speak to the ambassadors about how I have grown my network. I asked them why there were in Dirty Martinis on a Thursday night – was their motivation the free food and drink, or was it the potential connections they would make in the room. I encouraged them to speak to people they did not know in the room, to network beyond their immediate circle of contacts. I challenged them to put themselves out there, to go beyond their comfort zones and to follow up the connections that they made.

#TeachMeetWork:

Naomi Ward is one of our #womened Regional Leaders for the SE. She is doing some work with Portsmouth College and the Apprenticeship team – she asked me to speak   about how networking is a skill that needs to be taught and to address why it is easier for some student groups than others. I referenced the fact that if you are a white middle class man, especially if you attend a private school, that you will have an extensive network of family connections to open doors for you. That you will be able to arrange work placements in the City, in law firms, because you will know someone who knows someone in this space. I reinforced that we need to create these networks for our young people, that we need to remove some of the social barriers and create opportunities for them to make meaningful connections for future collaborations. I cited the example of a school in a deprived part of South London who host networking events, bringing business into the school, to make those introductions and to create those opportunities for the student body.

Diverse Leaders Programme #BAMEed #womened:

We have 3 cohorts of existing and aspiring leaders – 75 brilliant individuals – who are navigating their way around being identified as being from under-represented groups  in the schools’ workforce, finding their career pathway and being inspired/ empowered to fulfill their potential and pursue their dreams. I have led a day with each group before half-term and shared my personal/ professional journey of how investing in networking has impacted my career. We talked at length about the pros and cons, the barriers and the challenges, of being transparent, authentic leaders. We reflected on our whys, considered how to support one another in achieving them and articulated what sort of leaders we want to be. I have felt very proud of each of them being 10% braver and taking their next steps towards their goals.

Teach First Conference – Careers Panel:

Yesterday I was asked to contribute as a new Headteacher to a panel about seeking and securing leadership opportunities. Each of the leaders on the panel had had a different career trajectory but each of us referenced how our networks had supported our growth, we also encouraged the audience to create opportunities for themselves, to put themselves out there and connect with people. We each talked about how we had been recruited and how we were recruiting – with budget issues and a recruitment/ retention issues schools need to be more creative with how they ‘get the people on the bus’ then ‘how they get the right  people in the right seats’. We each networked in different ways but agreed that you need to be proactive and use your initiative.

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So give it a go, come in to the light, push yourself out of your comfort zone, feel the sunshine on your face. I promise you, you will find your tribe of connections who will inspire and empower you. We were all the newbie once and know what it feels like, I encouraged a friend who I trained with to join Twitter this week and she messaged me to say she felt quite overwhelmed at how friendly, genuine, helpful and supportive everyone is in our extended network.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Connecting and collaborating with like-minded people

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I am reading each of the blogs @staffrm by our Diverse Leaders, delighting in their reflections as they find their voice, use their voice and amplify each others voices – check out the blogs #womened and #bameed

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The amazing connections I have made in the last few years – I am now friends with some brilliant educators who I would not have known had I not invested the time in going to #teachmeets, hosting #leadmeets, tweeting and blogging
  • My memory for names and faces – the more people you meet the harder it is to remember everyone!
  • Carol/ Kate, Naomi, Chris/ Chloe for their invites to speak about my experience of networking
  • Allana/ Paul, Jaz/ Bukky  for their contributions to our networking days