Breaking the Mould: Creating Your Fit

Wow!

I knew the #WomenEd Breaking the Mould event was just what I needed to top up my energy reserves for the last two weeks of a long first year as the founding Headteacher of a start up school, but the speakers today have been beyond inspirational. What a amazing network of #WomenEd role models we have to draw strength from? I feel privileged to listen to, to know and to be friends with such wonderful women.

Our why for this event?

When Debra Rutley, Alison Rooney, Cecilia Payton, Charlotte Bishop and I met to discuss the needs of WLIE SE (we are mobilising the troops in Berks, Bucks and Oxon) we wanted to do an event about leading differently and finding our fit. The title Breaking the Mould provoked us to consider how we are confined and defined by others.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In my opening I asked everyone to share why they had joined us in 30+ degrees heat at the end of a long and full on year. Why many of them had travelled from London, Suffolk, Wales, Leeds and Scotland! I shared my why of needing time to reflect, to re-calibrate and to re-energise. It was only a shame that Bennie and Julie, our DHTs at Aureus were unable to join us as it clashed with the #WomenEd NPQH dates as they would have got a lot out of it too.

Our 8 Cs were embodied and personified by our 8 speakers. 8 women who have broken a mould, their mould, in different ways, for different reasons. The diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives of each women built on the narratives to create a toolkit of self-worth, authenticity, conviction and integrity.

Earlier in the week we had received some flack – ‘breaking the mould’ to some suggested we had created a perfect version and the model was now being broken. To the contrast, we are breaking out of the mould to create unique forms, not cookie cutter leaders. As Germaine Greer says “women should not be wedging themselves into man-shaped holes but creating woman-shaped holes to fill instead!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each speaker was humble and many struggled to own the word ‘leader’. Without a job title with leader in it, without the office sign/ parking space/ business card confirming positions in a hierarchical structure, the traditional concept of leadership can be a hard label to own. But our event was exploring the idea of leading differently, how we can extend our reach and influence others, how we are vision and though leaders in a messy educational landscape.

Our Part 1 speakers and my live notes from their thought pieces:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jaz Ampaw-Farr:

“I broke the mould by embracing vulnerability”.

  • Know and articulate your why.
  • Change your perspective.
  • Reclaim what is there.
  • Step into your vulnerability.
  • Tell your truth.
  • Embrace your authentic self.
  • Be comfortable, not confident!

Rae Snape:

“I broke the mould by using the resources I had”.

  • Use your imagination.
  • Be creative.
  • Use what your have.
  • “Know stuff!”
  • Do and learn the things they do not teach you on the NPQH!
  • Break the mould yourself, noone will do it for you.
  • Look for your resources in the community.
  • Be the person who taps people on the shoulder, the person who passes the baton on to others.

Lee Ryman:

“I broke the mould by opening my own school”.

  • Be innovative and creative.
  • Be resourceful and resilient.
  • Be courageous.
  • Be mutually respectful.
  • Be the change you want to see.

Debra Kidd:

“I broke the mould because I didn’t know how to fit in”.

  • Connect with one another, we need to create these spaces.
  • Embrace our vulnerability, we need to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone.
  • Take off our masks.
  • Call yourself a leader.
  • Be a thought and vision leader.
  • Embrace that walking away is also breaking the mould.
  • Exist in a rhizomatic structure – see our career paths differently and carve different routes to progress.

By lunch time there was a palpable buzz in the room as people connected, reflected, discussed and started sharing their stories.

Our Part 2 speakers and my live notes from their thought pieces:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Alison Kriel:

“I broke the mould by choosing to be me”.

  • Embrace and share who you truly are: Who I am? Who did I choose to be?
  • Alison: “I am quiet, I am sensitive, I am introverted. I value freedom, inclusion, equality. I inherited breaking the mould from my family”.
  • Re-mould our world and how we see it.
  • Re-mould how we accept each other.
  • Be the teacher you wanted to have as a child.
  • Invite those who are opposite to you in.
  • Give licence to be different and to do things differently.
  • Be whole.
  • Be courageous.
  • We need to be us, we need to know ourselves, we need to stay true to our values, we need to make ourselves a promise, we need to be true to ourselves.

Paulina Tervo:

“I broke the mould by fighting my fears”.

  • “I am a documentary film maker, not an educationalist”.
  • Broke the mould by co-founding an edtech organisation.
  • Do not take No for answer.
  • Pick yourself up when you fail/ when you are rejected/when you are undermined for being a woman in a male dominated industry/ when you are ignored as a woman.
  • Take the rough with the smooth.
  • Challenge your preconceptions as they are based on fear and social conformity.
  • Find your role models.

Carly Waterman:

“I broke the mould by doing what no-one expected me to do”.

  • Tune in to and listen to your inner voice.
  • Is it loud? Is it positive? Is it helpful?
  • Your inner voice will change as you evolve: “I turned 40, I had my 2 children, I had spent 9 years at the same school, my voice began to chip away at me”.
  • Reflect and tune in to what it is saying: “I was surviving,  I had become narrow, I was inward facing”.
  • Be aware that your inner voice will be filtered by the fear that your dream is not going to be realised.
  • Take a risk, take a leap of faith.
  • Control your inner voice.
  • Follow your own path.
  • Tell “Doris to do one!”
  • Do not let our inner voices de-rail us!

Mary Myatt:

“I broke the mould by concentrating.”

  • “I have never had an inner voice, I have a mother who does that for me!”
  • “I have not broken any moulds, I am on the edge of the next big adventure”.
  • Never look for an easy life, seek an interesting life.
  • Nurture your concentration.
  • See your work as a gift, as a way of escaping grief and pain.
  • Be robust and  be kind at the same time.
  • Be a human being first, and a professional second.

We need to show up, we need to look up, we need to speak up, we need to team up, we need to never give up, we need to lift others up.

What an amazing day it has been.  It has been a privilege. A big thank you to this wonderful group of women for going naked and bearing their souls with us!

wonder women womened

We asked everyone to make a pledge, a commitment to themselves about what they were going to do differently as a consequence  of attending.

What will your gift to the world be? What is the universe telling you?

If we are going to change the world, we need to be the change we want to see.

 

Breaking the mould slides for 77 (3)

Blogs from the #WomenEd community who were in the room: Lena, Freya, Kiran

Blogs from the #WomenEd who were following from afar: Lisa 

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The opportunity #WomenEd has to break the mould, change the mould and shape the future.
  • The remarkable women who came, who connected and who will collaborate.
  • We have already pledged to run it again next year and mentor others to share their stories of leading differently.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The blogs that have started being written of the personal epiphanies yesterday has triggered.
  • I am reviewing Wholesome Leadership by Tom Rees for TES.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The 8 Wonder Women who have joined us to share their stories for breaking the mould to inspire, empower and motivate our #WomenEd community  – I love you all dearly and have so much respect for each of you as humans and as professionals.

Leading Beyond the School Gates: Liminal Leadership

Yesterday, at our #WomenEd Festival of Leadership at Warwick University, I co-facilitated a session on Leading Beyond the School Gates with Annemarie Williams, one of our #WomenEd East Midlands Regional Leaders and someone who has become a very good friend. Annemarie gets all the credit for planning a brilliant session as it fell off of my to do list this week!

We have dubbed ourselves ‘Wilson and Williams’ as we have started co-planning and co-delivering workshops on things we are passionate about as we are on the same page about education. Annemarie is a primary CEO and I am a secondary Headteacher, we are both values-led in our approaches. We both believe in authenticity and are committed to being ethical leaders, guided by our moral compasses.

We are both passionate about is the opportunities to lead beyond school, in our communities, which develop leadership skills which can be brought back in to our schools and our classrooms. These liminal leadership opportunities are often forgotten about or not given the value and the status on our CVs, in our applications and in our interviews that they should be.

Our group’s opening reflections and discussions about what ‘Leading Beyond the School Gates’ threw up some interesting points. We talked a lot about being human in our leadership, about the hierarchies in some of our schools and the stakeholder engagement needed by school leaders.

Below are some of the things we discussed and the questions we used to frame the discussion for your consideration.

Great Leaders Make Great Schools – what is the impact of this on leaders?

  • Vision and values – moral purpose, define the mission for all
  • Exceptional leadership – learning focused, accountable, inspiring
  • Ethic of excellence  – high expectations for all
  • Pedagogy – the craft of teaching and learning
  • Culture  – teamwork and collaboration
  • Outward facing – research, collaboration, a culture of learning, innovation
  • Joy – the enjoyment and buzz of learning, should be tangible

What is your WHY of leadership?

Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’ is a book I keep going back to. We need to be articulate our why for being a teacher but also our why for stepping up to lead. The first hurdle is owning the fact that you are a leader. I anticipated that some of the people in our room did not see themselves as leaders, by the end our session they could articulate that they were leaders as they are influencing others.

Considering Servant Leadership we discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of this leadership style.

The concept of servant leadership is one that is both seductive and dangerous. The phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, Greenleaf said:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead”.

Servant leaders focus on the needs of the organisation and the communities they serve first and foremost and on developing the people within the organisation for the greater good of the whole community.

We framed our perspective as educators who have become leaders and who have used external opportunities to develop our leadership qualities, but we also shared our perspectives as recruiters, who assess candidates for what they can bring to our schools.

What other ways are there to grow as  leader?

We shared what we are passionate about, things we have done to go above and beyond outside of school and more importantly how  we can use these liminal leadership opportunities as evidence of our leadership skills.

Volunteering:

I am a School Governor, a MAT Trustee, a DFE Coach and the National Leader of #WomenEd.

Travel:

I have participated in Camp America, Raleigh International and LRTT.

Community Projects:

I am going to Mozambique with Action Aid this year.

Challenges:

Coaching has helped me overcome personal and professional challenges, which have also developed by emotional resilience.

Self-Study Courses:

I love attending, speaking at and hosting grassroots CPD. #Teachmeets, #Leadmeets and #Coachmeets have deepened by passion and my knowledge of educational leadership over the last few years.

Reading and Research:

Our school bookclub, our @WomenEdBookClub and Twitter chats like #SLTchat have helped to shape my thinking.

What is the Impact?

  • Demonstrates how you walk and talk your values
  • Opportunities to develop transferable skills such as creativity, communication and relationship building, planning and project management, problem solving etc
  • Brings new learning, content and perspective
  • Helps build future connections and relationships
  • Scientific studies show that helping others boosts happiness. It increases life satisfaction, provides a sense of meaning, increases feelings of competence, improves our mood and reduced stress.

Annemarie then made the link between community leadership, the qualities we develop and how this links to the future of  careers and employability:

The World Economic Forum recently published “The Future of Jobs” outlining the skills that will be most needed by 2020, and guess what? Social skills are leading the way. In a world where technology seems to be king and the power of social media is ever growing, it is our human connectivity and ability to build relationships, will decide who is ready for the new world.

“Overall, social skills such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills.”

What did we learn? How did we grow as a leaders?

  • That transferable skills can be developed anywhere, any time
  • That failure can be the stepping stone to a new pathway
  • That resilience can be developed

So we ask you to reflect and consider:

What are the experiences that have shaped you as a leader?

What are the possible new development opportunities you have yet to explore?

And more importantly, how will you harness these leadership opportunities, how will you capture them in your applications and how will you evidence they impact they have had on your leadership development?

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

On behalf of Wilson and Williams, coming to an EduEvent near you soon!

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • More people recognising that leading beyond our school gates, leading in liminal spaces and leading in our communities is a legitimate way to informally develop leadership skills.

Currently reading and thinking about:

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Making brilliant friends for life through #WomenEd – another reason to volunteer your time, energy, experience and expertise!
  • Having a diverse PLN of inspiring changemakers!

Appendix:

I recommend that you read Liminal Leadership by the fabulous Stephen Tierney. Furthermore that you watch this #TEDxNorwichEd Talk by the brilliant Marianna Cantwell who also talks passionately about existing in the grey space between the black and the white.

#WomenEd: The Ripple Effect

Saturday saw me driving to Mansfield at the crack of dawn to support the #WomenEd #LeadMeet that one of our new Regional Leaders, Natalie Aveyard, had offered to host and organise. I had supported the curation and was really excited about the line up, despite being knackered after a long week with visits to London, and a late night on Friday in Swindon for the RWBA Empowering Young People to Change the World Conference.

6am alarms on a Saturday are never welcome (the irony being today I bounced out of bed at 5am!), nor 2-3 hour drives, but I knew it would be worth it and I was not disappointed. Once again, the #WomenEd community have inspired, empowered and energised me.

Natalie Aveyard is a great example of the impact #WomenEd has had/ has on an individual and the ripple effect it has on your friends and colleagues as the interest and involvement spreads out. Natalie has been to a number of our regional and national events, each time she brings more people with her as her #WomenEd snowball picks up more people (Nottingham saw her bringing a mini-bus load). She has attended events, tweeted, volunteered to host an event, volunteered to become a Regional Leader and volunteered to join us in Mozambique with Action Aid. She has been 30% braver in the last few months. My next challenge is to get her to write a blog and to speak at an event – 40% … 50% braver?!

My opening:

We always ask a Regional or a National Leader to open our events and to deliver a #WomenEd welcome, because each time there are new educators joining us. The framing of the event is important, to remember why we exist, how far we have come and what our priorities are. It is always fab to see new faces at our events. It was also great to see more #HeForShe at the Mansfield event. Below is my opening:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I said to the audience that I would share the links for the DFE funded Diversity and Equality regional activity: Women Leading in Education Networks and the Women Leading in Education Coaching Pledge. 

Also here are some quick links for the forthcoming #WomenEd events in the Midlands:  9/6 Warwick  & 30/6 Grantham  There is also an event at my school in Oxfordshire 7/7/18. We hope to see some of you there!

My reflections on the cracking presentations from this event are below. The line up was impressive and had a great balance of old and new faces/ voices.

Claire Cuthbert: Lead, follow, or get out of the way!

Claire was our opening key note and shared her journey from an estate in the North East to CEO in the East Midlands. She is an authentic leader and has become quite comfortable at sharing the vulnerability of  her journey. I loved that she peppered her musings with Disney clips capturing resilience, teamwork and tenacity.

Annemarie WilliamsPress for Progress: Queen Bees or Sisters in Solidarity? 

Annemarie always hits the nail on the head in an understated way. Delivering ‘naked’ she shared her thoughts on sisterly and un-sisterly conduct in schools. Embodying integrity and channelling Brene Brown, she challenged us to consider how cooperation, collaboration and community makes us stronger leaders.

John Pearce: Consensual Leadership

John has supported #WomenEd from the beginning via Twitter, but this was the first event he had attended, and when we had a few cancellations and asked for volunteers to fill the gaps on the line up, he stepped up with a provocation.  He opened with a heartfelt thank you and was quite emotional about the warm welcome he had received and the hope he felt in the room. Developing the theme of #MeToo and the heightened awareness of consent in our society, he proposed that we need consensual leadership in our schools.   He has already blogged his presentation here.

Fee Stagg: Good Leadership Eats Itself…

Fee is a National Governance Lead and brings a different leadership perspective to our events. Her presentation naturally developed the theme from John’s one on the Lead, Push, Follow dynamic of leadership. She encouraged us all to consider our contributions to the leadership of our schools and the dynamic of our relationships with others.

Jill Berry:  Moving into a new leadership role – 5 top tips

Jill completed her Doctorate research on leadership transitions and published ‘Making the Leap’ which is  a highly recommended read for not only DHTs moving to Headship but any leader making the transition to their next step on the ladder.  She has distilled her research into a chapter for the forthcoming #WomenEd book and she shared 5 of her top tips:

1. Research carefully & ensure this is the right job/right place/right time for you.

2. Use this research & focus on the match/fit in a compelling written application

3. At interview, show what you offer/bring to the role & how you will add value (esp if internal)

4. Use the lead-in time between being successful at interview & formally stepping into the role to build your knowledge & begin to establish yourself

5. Recognise that however well prepared you are you still need to ‘build the bridge as you walk on it’ & learn in the job.

Kay Fuller: Feminist Leadership: What makes you happy?

Kay shared her research as Associate Professor at Nottingham University and as Course Convener for a MA in Educational Leadership. She reflected on an interview question that a Headteacher she spoke to for her research always asks: What makes you happy and what makes you angry? She shared what makes her happy and angry as a leader, as an encouragement to us all to become more self-aware and to hold onto our values as non-negotiables in our schools.

Pran Patel: Outward Facing Leadership

Pran and I met at a TDA event at Cambridge uni a few years ago,  he has become an avid tweeter, blogger and presenter at grassroots events and willingly comes to many #womened events. He thanked the community for saving his career and for keeping him in the profession and on SLT. Last year he completed our Diverse Leaders programme and really embraced being an ‘outtie!’ He shared his thoughts on outward versus inward facing leadership and the need to find your tribe and share your why. I was delighted that he won the coaching day from Felicity too!

Krysta Parsons: Stepping up and Leaning In

Krysta has contributed to a few of our events, and has shared with us the rollercoaster of her leadership journey. She has secured the dream job, the dream job has gone sour, she has risen from the ashes and secured a different dream job. As Jill says, rough seas make the best sailors, and the ebb and flow of leadership has made Krysta a reflective and a humble leader. Her honesty and vulnerability instills hope with the audience members  who are currently not  in a school that is the right fit.  She also spoke openly about the imposter syndrome she has experienced in her career, a common motif at our events.

Felicity King: Leading from the inside out:- the infectious power of being in

Felicity joined us for her first #WomenEd event and also answered the call for contributions. I loved her prop – an empty toilet roll, with her presentation  notes on. The simplicity of her presentation picked up Kay’s theme of knowing yourself and looking in before you look out.

Laura WatkinEffective communication in leadership; why the **** sandwich doesn’t work

Laura is another new face/ new voice to our community, tapped on the shoulder by one of the Brunts team, she was gung-ho about coming and contributing. Light bulb moments went off for her throughout the event as things resonated with her and she saw her own journey mirrored by others. Her presentation on the importance of relationships and communication was spot on, as she encouraged us to not confuse nor conflate the lines between the different types of conversations needed to oil the cogs in our schools.

Book Raffle for Mozambique:

Kathryn Morgan, Natalie and I are 3/18 educators who are travelling to Mozambique with Action Aid this summer to build a library. You can find out more about our project here. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of educators who have donated copies of their books for  us to raffle at our events. In Kathryn’s absence, Kay did a fab job in selling our raffle tickets and we raised another £100, plus 15 people went home with a new educational book to read!

Carly Waterman: Think Yourself Limitless

Carly delivered a thought-provoking closing keynote to wrap up the event. She openly challenged the self-diminishing language and self-deprecating behaviours we often see and hear in each other. She shared tips on how to control our inner chimps and manage the imposter syndrome.  Sharing how limiting her own inner voice has been on her career progression, she reflected on how #WomenEd has empowered her to control it, and then she modelled how she does it.

Enter Doris.

The room wept with laughter as a recorded voice filled the room, Carly’s inner critic Doris called her out on all of the self-doubt and limiting thoughts she has had about herself in the last few years. The dialogue that ensued of Carly telling us who she is, what she has achieved, her hopes and dreams, each time undermined by Doris revealed how we talk ourselves down and out of opportunities.

Well done Carly – no-one is going to forget your contribution – it was genius! Your pragmatic approach to leadership really resonates, as does your willingness to share your vulnerability.

I love that at our #WomenEd events we arrive as strangers and leave as friends. Moreover, that our inclusive and diverse line ups may seem contrasting on paper, but as the stories are shared, we begin to weave links between each reflection.  Thank you to all of our contributors, our hosts, the student helpers and our audience for a truly brilliant event!

Networking Lunch:

Thanks to the Brunts Academy tribe for organising a post-event lunch afterwards – it is always good to reflect, discuss and process with others. Also to plot what comes next!

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The new Regional Leaders who are joining our team including Natalie and Carly
  • #HeForShe advocacy from the presenters and audience members
  • The #10%braver pledges that will come out of this event and the personal/professional changes this will bring

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

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.

hope_balloons_small2

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”.

proud of you

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

proud of me

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

prouder

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.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Slide25

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.

amazonians

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.

diverse 1

#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.

diverse 2

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_6592

#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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_6584.JPG

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!”

this is me

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!

IMG_6590

#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).

new values

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!

womened 2

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.

IMG_3518

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.

IMG_3524

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.

IMG_3519

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.

IMG_3523

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.

IMG_3521

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!)

IMG_1225

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.

17353139_10158284744495328_913954457801950763_n17353323_10158436575990083_688873141943813177_n

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.