Have you been to one of our meetings or conferences? Are you keen to get involved with the South West network? Complete this survey:
The survey will provide valuable information to enable NCTL to assess the impact the Regional Networks are having on helping women to progress in their leadership journeys.
Schools Week have recently published new national data, which shows primary school academy trusts have the largest pay gaps between men and women – and senior figures are pointing to the high numbers of female staff in low paid roles as the main reason.
Read the full article here: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/primary-mats-have-the-widest-gender-pay-gap/?mc_cid=8c493c569b&mc_eid=ad559ec46a
Do you work in a primary and would like to learn more about the work we're doing? Get in touch.
West Country Teaching School Alliance and Dartmoor Teaching School Alliance came together to host a Women Leading in Education South West conference on Wednesday evening. Organised by Sara Jacobs, the event was popular – even on a cold, dark night in January! Viv Grant opened the evening with a passionate keynote focused on the power of coaching. This was followed by Margaret Davis, Director of ‘The Glass Lift’, who shared real-life success stories and inspiring outcomes of coaching on individuals and businesses. Caroline Sherwood, the project director, outlined what is on offer in the South West, as well as the work already underway in the region. The closing keynote, by Mary Myatt, asked the audience to consider what soulful schools, heart-based education and courageous leadership should look like. All attendees have shown interest in being coached, or becoming a coach – or both! Regional hub leads will now lead a series of training days for coaches, so that they are well equipped to support women no matter the stage in their career. One attendee said of the event: “What a fantastic event... Inspirational talks, a great atmosphere and freebies. I am sure that the people who attended will have left inspired to improve themselves and others as well as reconnect with their moral purpose.”
Findings from a recent report clearly show that children start to rule out career options from an early age and their choices are often influenced by what they see in the media. This highlights the pressing need for closer ties between employers and schools, to ensure that all children have access to role models in a wide range of sectors to help them develop an awareness of career options at an early age. This is vital to ensure that all children – regardless of gender and backgrounds – can fulfil their full potential.
Read more here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0118/190117_career_aspirations_children
Nicola Brooks hosted the second meeting of the Wiltshire Women Leading in Education network took place on Thursday 16th November at The Springfields Academy.
Click here to read about the event: http://www.springfields.wilts.sch.uk/wiltshire-wants-leadership-equality/
West Country Teaching School Alliance and Dartmoor Teaching School Alliance are pleased to announce that we are forming a partnership to develop the Women Leading in Education South West programme. This creates a unique opportunity to share our resources and expertise so that we can play a key role in the campaign for gender equality in leadership in the region.
The gender gap in education leadership is unacceptably wide and the pace of improvement unacceptably slow. According to Dr Kay Fuller, in 2015 women made up 64% of the teaching workforce but only accounted for 40% of headteachers. Fuller argues that – at current rates – it will take until 2040 to close the gap.
The National College of Teaching (NCTL) and Leadership’s Women Leading in Education team is leading on a range of national programmes to address this. This includes a coaching programme and regional networks. In the South West, Dartmoor Teaching School Alliance (DTSA) were awarded in November 2016 the grant to deliver a network programme for the region. In October 2017 the NCTL invited West Country Teaching School Alliance (WCTSA) to support the delivery of the coaching programme through grant funding.
DTSA and WCTSA have brought together both programmes to maximise their impact on the profile of gender leadership within the region. The individual grant sums – while hugely valued – are relatively small for delivery on a regional scale. By combining, we ensure the following:
I’ll start by taking you back in time to a rather overcast weekend in the quaint town of Shepton Mallet. Hardly the ‘hen weekend’ capital of the UK, but nevertheless the setting for where this blog begins. Amongst my nearest and dearest the games began, amidst tea, cake and copious amounts of Prosecco. I was wrapped in loo roll, unwrapping sordid gifts before finally being subjected to a rather embarrassing version of ‘Mr and Mrs.’ Those of you of an age will know the premise; your partner gets asked a series of questions. Your challenge is to be asked the same questions and gauge what you think your partner has said about you.
It started off well…favourite actress? Julie Andrews. Tick. Favourite food? Cheese sandwich. Always. With a side of Wotsits. Tick. A marriage meant to be…
“What is her most annoying habit?”
The Prosecco had truly kicked in by this point, rendering my filtering systems defunct. A barrage of random idiosyncrasies emerge (not to be shared on this blog; what happens in Shepton Mallet, stays in Shepton Mallet, dear reader…) to no avail.
“What is it?” I cry in desperation.
The answer? That I say sorry. A lot. Too much. So much so, my (now husband) rendered it a bad habit, akin to nose picking, or teeth grinding. This particular habit it seems has remained with me and has infected my career. Many a time I have started a whole-school CPD session with an apology that a) staff were there (they needed to be), b) they had to listen to me (was I really that bad?) and c) that I would be as quick as I could (possibly likening my pearls of wisdom to a tooth extraction or a smear test – it would all be over soon…). I’m also well-known for my emoji-tastic emails, in attempts to soften what to others might seem an overly-assertive set of expectations.
Taking the time to really reflect on this, what has startled me is that this isn’t a unique phenomenon, particularly for women. Whilst watching candidates present for Head Boy and Head Girl at the school in which I work, I was taken aback by the innate differences. Whilst all students did an amazing job, there were marked contrasts. The boys were confident in what they were ‘going’ to do, succinct and assertive in how the role would play out, should they get it. The same was not to be said for the girls. They were apologetic in the copious amount of work they had produced, the depth of their PowerPoints and the clear amount of time and effort that had gone into it. Phrases such as “I’d like”, “I hope” and “If I’m good enough” trickled off their carefully- rehearsed tongues, alongside a plethora of ‘sorry’. It was as if it was an accident they were there at all.
This was also the case with friends. Amazing women that I know, who questioned their eligibility for job applications, because they “needed to get a year under their belt” and “felt they weren’t quite ready” for jobs they could probably do standing on their heads. Friends that completed marathons for charity and raising hundreds of pounds, prefixing Facebook photographs of their glorious achievements with the hashtag #sorrynotsorry. (Are they apologising for not apologising?).
Such is the scale of my ‘apology-affliction’, there is even money to be made from it. A Gmail plug-in called ‘Just not Sorry’, which you can use when sending letters or emails. It acts as a ‘spell-checker’ for any self-deprecation detected and a handy little pop-up will critique it and berate you for its tone. (I envisage hours doing battle with said plug-in, apologising every time it told me off for my apology).
Is it such a dreadful thing, to have the trait of the apologetic demeanour? While many argue that it suggests a deeper notion of self-worth, through years of social conditioning to be ‘compliant’ and ‘good’, others argue (to quote a wonderful article in The Guardian by Elizabeth Day and Barbara Ellen):
“Some women carry the people-pleasing gene to the point of self-harm, but let’s not forget that women can also be superb, hyper-intuitive people-readers and managers – fielding skills and qualities that burn bright in the workplace.”
In a culture of pace and expectation, targets and judgements, is it so wrong to actually feel apologetic when dealing with staff? In The Curse of the Good Girl, Rachel Simmons argues that “Apologising is one way to make yourself more accessible and less threatening". Equally, are those staff that may possess some of the characteristics shown by the students and staff mentioned earlier losing out and not putting themselves forward, for fear of getting it wrong?
One of the really positive things coming out of my meetings with the Women Leading in Education group, is the need for us to consider and address some of these factors that may affect promotion and to be proactive in how we support those staff (men and women). How many of these self-deprecating staff are not putting themselves forward for promotion in schools; how many of them aren’t letting their managers know about the work they do, often working hard in isolation; how many are not asking for help, because they feel guilty for taking up time or feel it’s a sign of weakness?
What I have taken from our work thus far, is to think about what questions schools could ask themselves, in order to address some of these issues. What if we looked at recruitment literature, changing the semantics of language for columns that dictated what was ‘essential’’ and ‘desirable’ (how many of us haven’t gone for a job, feeling we don’t meet what might seem a small section of the ‘essential’ criteria)? How can leadership teams in schools really identify the experience and talent in their staff and noticing those not always as visibly ready for promotion? How are schools ensuring that part-time staff (who often unavoidably miss opportunities and can often be overlooked) still have the same access to CPD and opportunities as everyone else?
These are just a few examples; as someone who always cites moving into leadership ‘by accident’, it was actually because I was noticed beyond my babbling apologies and overly-laminated resources at interview; because people gently nudged me into having confidence in what I was doing; because people made me see my mistakes as learning points, not failures, that I bucked the trend as a (ready for this?) part-time Mum who was on the leadership team as part of a job share. (I know, right?)
Caroline Sherwood, our Project Director, draws on research into why gender gaps exist and the self-perceptions of both men and women, and offers her own poignant and honest reflections.
Our Project Director, Caroline Sherwood, has recently produced an article on Closing the Gender Gap for SecEd:
On Monday 12th June, The Springfields Academy were delighted to host the Wiltshire launch of the national initiative, ‘Women Leading in Education’. The project aims to support women with their career within education and to encourage more women to apply for leadership positions. The Wiltshire network forms part of the larger South West hub, led by Dartmoor Teaching School alliance.
Over 36 existing and aspiring female leaders attended the launch meeting, which was opened by The Springfields Academy’s Headteacher, and #HeForShe ambassador, Jon Hamp. Nicola Brooks, Women into Leadership Champion for the South West, then introduced the project, sharing some of the statistics which show why the project is necessary. Nicola drew on the work of both Dr Kay Fuller, from Nottingham University, and Margaret Davies, Occupational Psychologist and Director of ‘The Glass Lift’. Time for networking and refreshments followed, before 4 inspirational female leaders inspired us with their leadership journeys: Annie Massey and Helen Carpenter from Abbeyfield School, Shelley Ball from Malmesbury School, and Ellen Travers-Gaisford from Ridgeway School.
Overall, it was an inspirational evening, with one attendee stating: “A big thank you for organising such an inspirational session. All 5 presenters were excellent, I particularly liked hearing the ladders climbed by you Ladies.”
If you, or someone you know is interested in joining the network and/or attending our next meeting then please contact Women into Leadership Champion, Nicola Brooks, through email@example.com .