Two thirds of the teaching profession are women and yet only one third reach a level of leadership. This is an incredible and tragic fact, isn’t it?!
For most, this might be surprising, yet in the 21st Century we have all continued to allow it to happen. Diversity across leadership teams is a highly important issue that until recently has not been valued in many schools.
Two years ago, I connected with six secondary school leaders via social media. They were all women and were equally exasperated by the lack of females in school leadership roles.
At the start, we simply thought we’d try to start a conversation, share the challenges and support one another in finding solutions, to find ways to make a change; we had absolutely no idea what we could do or how we’d do it, we simply didn’t want to sit back and allow the situation to continue; we wanted to challenge the system.
So, we put a few posts on StaffRm and tweeted them out on Twitter, focused on the idea of trying to organise an event where we could all meet up to start sharing ideas and experiences. Incredibly, this first event attracted 200 women and two men for a grass roots conference; the energy, connectivity and excitement were palpable.
Many shared their experiences of how they’d been in the same situation and how they’d broken through the barriers. Issues discussed included the current crisis of teacher recruitment.
When you actually look deeper and analyse the issue, it’s not about recruitment, the problem is retention. Teachers, especially women, are leaving the profession as they are not being offered the potential to move into leadership roles or be on a senior leadership team (SLT) as a part-time member of staff. All other industries and professions offer mothers returning to work, hours that suit them; teaching has to be the only one where this is not considered.
Today we have 12 regional teams around the country with 40 volunteer regional leaders. They work hard to bring others together to articulate such issues and amplify our voice; we are increasingly able to use our team strength to bring about change.
WomenEd has also joined force with BAMEed, a like-minded initiative started by our London-based regional leader, Allana Gay, who wanted to expand the focus of WomenEd to consider all diversities.
WomenEd and BAMEed run events scheduled regularly around the country. We call on all teachers whatever your sex, race or beliefs, whether you are gay or straight, abled or disabled; we want you to join us to try to make the teaching profession just that: a profession of diversity and equality for everyone.
Thankfully it has not just been about a group of disgruntled women coming together for tea and biscuits! A year after our conception in April 2016, the DfE referenced our work in a white paper; it recognised and acknowledged us and invited to speak at various events. Our events have grown from the initial seven of us to attracting more than 10,000 women.
Hannah Wilson, Headteacher of Aureus School, part of GLF Schools and co-founder of WomenEd, will partner with Allana Gay, a regional leader of WomenEd and Co-Founder of BAMEed, at Bett Academies (2:15pm on Thursday 16 March) to update Senior Leaders on the systemic change they are leading on ensuring that schools reflect the communities they serve. To register free of charge to attend the show, this presentation and other CPD sessions, please visit www.bettacademies.com. Bett Academies has been developed as a national centre of excellence, providing information, guidance and inspiration for senior leaders in academies, MATs and schools exploring academisation.