ASGS Profiles

Elizabeth Kitcatt

I’m the Headteacher of The Camden School for Girls, founded in 1871 by Frances Buss, a pioneer of rigorous education for lower middle class girls in North London. The main school has a comprehensive intake of 584 girls and our mixed sixth form has 450 students, offering A levels only. The school has non-denominational VA status. Academic expectations are high, and the school’s unique ethos is about celebrating individuality (no school uniform!) and nurturing self-confidence and a sense that girls can achieve absolutely anything. A running joke in the school is that boys in the sixth form leave us as proud Camden Girls – I think that says it all, really!

Summary biography:

I completed my probationary year at Walworth School, Southwark, in the mid-1980s, and things were tough. Boys wanted to become professional boxers, girls were going to run a stall on East Street market; many were successful in these careers long before the end of compulsory education. I learnt how to teach English without ever turning my back to the class, and becoming a contortionist in this way has proved useful in the multi-tasking, smoke and mirrors worlds of teaching and school leadership. Promotion to third in charge of English at Archbishop Michael Ramsay School, Southwark, gave me my first taste of leadership, and I loved the responsibility for developing the curriculum. My Head of Department, Sharon Whyatt, was inspirational, and I learnt how to build a team, manage change and communicate the highest possible expectations to students who were among the most disadvantaged in London.

 I finally ventured north of the river as Head of English to Parliament Hill School, my first girls’ school, and immediately loved the pervading optimism about girls’ potential and the sense that it was OK to be a feminist – in fact, this was encouraged by the Headteacher, Judy Bax, whose clear-sighted leadership taught me how to steer a school through choppy political waters, as they were then and are now.

Next came a Deputy Headship, and then Headship at Camden School for Girls, and the chance, as a leader, to put what I’ve learnt from many exceptional colleagues into practice in this dynamic and unique school. It’s a tough but fascinating job, and our motto captures the school’s spirit – onwards and upwards!

Two professional achievements of which you are most proud? 

1.

Progress 8 for disadvantaged girls in the top 10% nationally 2017.

 

2.

Finding a way through savage funding cuts while preserving the school’s success.


Four words which best describe your approach to leadership? 

1.

Be strategic

2.

Facilitate others

3.

Value autonomy..

4.

…but also collaboration


What have you learned about effective leadership most recently? 

The referendum on membership of the E.U. – whatever one thinks of the outcome - has taught me as a leader not to reduce complex issues to absurdly simple questions. And, on that note, Gina Miller has taught me that determined, vocal women will not be silenced!

The pace of change in our schools imposed by political decisions, and the pain this has caused, should tell us all to take our time when altering what we do, and do our best to keep stakeholders with us.

#metoo gave momentum to a protest that could have fizzled out quite quickly, as we’ve seen happen so often before. Social media used effectively alongside other forms of communication can be an important tool for less powerful women and men.

Back to education, the quiet professionalism of all the headteachers and teachers in schools near Grenfell Tower demonstrated the vital role of schools in providing safe, compassionate environments for children when they are at their most vulnerable. 

What three pieces of advice would you give to a new headteacher colleague?

 

 

1.     Listen to people you respect, but always trust your own judgement about what your school needs.

 

2.     Be absolutely clear about all aspects of your vision, dip into the detail, the rest will take care of itself.

 

3.     Filter out all unnecessary tasks – this applies to you, your senior team and all your staff and students.

 

 

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models? 

Dame Barbara Stocking – President of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, for her work on gender bias – both conscious and unconscious – in educational assessment and in the workplace. 

Professor Jane Miller – one of my tutors at the Institute of Education when I did my PGCE. She developed my embryonic ability to read as a feminist, and to see ways of taking this into the classroom – and this was well before the days of critical reading as an A level and GCSE requirement.

Jane Miller is Professor Emeritus, London University Institute of Education. She is the author of Many Voices, Women Writing About Men, Seductions, More Has Meant Women: The Feminisation of Schooling and School for Women.

 What do you view as the most pressing issues / challenges for girls and young women in our schools currently? 

Lower expectations of girls in some families and significant domestic responsibilities which hold them back.

Girls who succeed academically in school don’t always achieve as well at university – is this due to unconscious bias in marking at degree level? 

‘Good girl syndrome’ – the quest for perfection in aspects of themselves they can control at the expense of developing the more messy and challenging leadership and interactive qualities, where some degree of failure is inevitable.

Persistent paucity of female role models in powerful positions across almost all walks of life.

Continuing sexualisation of women in the media and invisibility of older women and girls unless they are deemed physically attractive.

Do you have any books that have been important to you professionally that you would recommend for our leadership library?  

Tina Kothari: Women in Leadership – an extraordinary analysis of how women’s life experiences shape their professional identity. 

Lois P. Frankel: Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office – the title tells you all you need to know, and I think every reader will find at least one way in which they’ve undermined their own sense of themselves as a potential leader!

Jane Burton

Currently CEO of the Nonsuch and Wallington Education Trust (NWET). We are an all-girls multi academy trust that was formed in 2015 with two schools (Nonsuch High School for Girls and Wallington High School for Girls). We are currently undergoing the process of taking another girls’ school, Carshalton High School for Girls into the Trust in April 2018. This means we will be a multi academy trust the educates around 4000 young women.  More information about the Trust can be found at http://www.nonsuchschool.org/321/welcome-from-the-ceo

Summary biography:

In her current role provides the strategic leadership to NWET. After graduating with a degree in Economics, Jane enjoyed a successful career in business and entered the teaching profession in 2000. She held several middle and senior management positions within local schools and was appointed as Headteacher of W allington High School for Girls in 2012. Jane was appointed as Executive Head of Nonsuch and W allington Education Trust when it was formed in 2015 and has now moved to the position of CEO from September 2017. Jane is currently the joint President of the Association of State Girls’ Schools and is also a member of the Governing Body of Royal Russell School in Croydon.  Jane is fortunate to have the love and support of her family and pays for this by spending most weekends in muddy fields watching her teenage son compete in cross country races or playing football!

Two professional achievements of which you are most proud?

1.

Deciding to take the leap and change career in my mid- 30s. Have never regretted moving into the teaching profession

2.

Setting up the Trust in 2015- it has been tough at times but the lessons I have learned about change management have been invaluable and the satisfaction of creating something new has been wonderful.

Four words which best describe your approach to leadership?

1.

Enthusiastic

2.

Purposeful

3.

Inclusive

4.

Addicted to ‘to do’ lists for me and my team!

 What have you learned about effective leadership most recently? 

I have learned never to underestimate the effect that change has on people and that not everyone always wants to move at the same pace as you. It is important in a strategic ole to appreciate this and really think about people’s potential reactions and motivations in situations. I have also learned that developing a thicker skin is a good coping mechanism.

 What three pieces of advice would you give to a new headteacher colleague?

1.

Look after yourself – you have to ‘Be well to Lead well’

2.

Ask for help- from other heads, your Governors and anyone you can. People are always willing to help

3.

Those things that frustrate you and may keep you awake usually disappear in a short time and become ‘yesterday’s news’

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models?

Kim Winser, CEO and founder of Winser London. I worked for her in the 90s at Marks and Spencer and she was the only women at Director level- she was an inspiration.

 My Mum and my Nan (who sadly is no longer with us)- strong women, great role models and always there to remind me not to take myself too seriously!

 What do you view as the most pressing issues / challenges for girls and young women in our schools currently? 

The challenge of continuing to progress in their career throughout their working life and not hitting the glass ceiling that is still there, especially in their late 20s and early 30s. Alongside this, battling the debilitating perfection that girls’ have a tendency to aim for and beating the demon that is ‘Imposter Syndrome’ 

Do you have any books that have been important to you professionally that you would recommend for our leadership library? 

‘Pig Wrestling’ by Dr Mark Bawden- very good for getting you to think differently about problems

‘Collaboration’ by Morten Hanson- a must for all leaders

Sharon Cromie

Wycombe High School was founded in 1901, at a time when the education of women was just becoming a national priority.  Its first Headteacher Miss Mary Christie was herself a graduate, highly unusual for that period. She graduated from St Andrews University, with a Masters Degree, one of the very first woman to do so. As a school Wycombe High School started off, as pioneers, committed to the education and development of girls,  and continues with that ethos today. Sharon Cromie has demonstrated this via the school’s many achievements over the nine years of her headship.  Wycombe High School is designated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’, is one of only 35 Maths Hub nationally, as well as a Teaching School and National Support School. Wycombe High School has also been accredited as an Exceptional School and its teachers have recently achieved a national Kitemark for excellence in Research and Development. With a proven track record in the arts (visual and performing), the majority of the School’s Sixth Form are involved in Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Mathematics, demonstrating that girls’ schools lead the way in promoting the take-up of these subjects.   Prior to joining Wycombe High School, Sharon has experience of a range of selective, non-selective, F.E and H.E institutions and is currently the Joint President of the Association of State Girls’ Schools, an Ofsted inspector, National Leader of Education and Executive Headteacher of Wycombe High School Academies Trust, a multi academy trust with an ethos of  ‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts:  success through togetherness’, and a motto of ‘Concordia Corroborat – unity strengthens’. Sharon was born in England and educated in Northern Ireland, attending school and university there. She graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with an honours degree in Law and worked as an IT Management Consultant before retraining as a teacher in the early 1990s.

 Nicole Chapman

I have been Headteacher of Chelmsford County High School for Girls, a high achieving selective school since 2007. As Joint President of the ASGS 2013-2015, I worked to build on driving the mission of promoting the education of girls and modernise our image as an association. Traditions are at the core of my School’s ethos; it continues to thrive with outstanding examination results and destinations to prestigious universities.  In 2011 CCHS became the first secondary school in the County of Essex to acquire Academy Status, and top performing school in Essex 2017.  

Summary biography: 

I believe that education makes a significant, long lasting difference to the lives of the girls whom we have the privilege of educating; the better the education we can offer, the more of a difference it makes to the adults they become and to the people with whom they will work and live in the future. 

I am dedicated to my roles, passionate about education, particularly instilling confidence in students to strive for excellence, fulfil their potential, whilst contributing to the local and global community. I believe that girls will become the leaders of tomorrow; as a manager I am compassionate to the needs of both students and members of staff, and uncompromising in achieving the highest standards possible.

During my time at CCHS, I have led the expansion of the School, brought  facilities into the 21st Century with a new Music Centre, Sixth Form study facilities,  an extended dining hall, re-designing existing facilities, a three-storey Languages Centre; upgrading and developing ICT for high quality teaching and learning in addition to more efficient administration. I am a champion of the International Baccalaureate both within my school and beyond, although in 2017 we had to discontinue the programme due to insufficient funding.  CCHS developed its own Learner Profile demonstrating our commitment to developing the characteristics that will ensure our students become some of the ‘leaders of tomorrow’, understanding their responsibility to themselves and others.  I am a Local Leader of Education, as a Professional Partner, mentoring newly appointed headteachers, adviser to schools requiring support to raise achievement and a Pupil Premium Reviewer. 

Two professional achievements of which you are most proud? 

1.

Embedding an ethos that enables girls to thrive and believe in themselves.

2.

Developing staff into effective leaders.

Four words which best describe your approach to leadership? 

1.

Principled

2.

Dedicated

3.

Compassionate

4.

Resilient

What have you learned about effective leadership most recently?

To be resilient in challenging times.  In order to be effective, leaders need to be aware of and work within the specific circumstances of their school, rather than plough on regardless; adapt and respond to the changing political and economic context; accept what cannot be changed but challenge convincingly.  Never lose sight of the fact that for each student the education they are experiencing is their only opportunity, it must therefore be the very best that can be provided.  Above all have faith in students to achieve and be the best they can and instil the same belief in all the adults who work in the school.  Create a climate of mutual respect, caring discipline and high expectations.  

What three pieces of advice would you give to a new headteacher colleague?

1.

Get to know your school by listening to each member of staff and as many students and governors as is practicable, and hear their message before making big decisions.

 

2.

Grow your vision from your personal convictions and what is right for the students and the staff.

 

3.

Be prepared for setbacks, don’t take them personally, use them to reflect, review your strategies and adapt them to changing needs and circumstances.

 

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models? 

I cannot single out individuals in my personal and professional life who have been particularly influential, however I have valued the encouraging feedback from line managers, headteachers and inspectors that has spurred me on to apply for the next step in my career.  I have also learnt from those whose style and approach have taught me what would not suit my personality and preferred approach.  

What do you view as the most pressing issues / challenges for girls and young women in our schools currently?  

  1. Managing social networking to ensure that they regulate and limit their own use of it. 
  1. Developing the resilience not to be pulled into negative feelings about their personal image, which in turn affects their well-being and mental health.
  2. Breaking away from stereotypes and believing they can really do anything that interests them
  3. Standing up for themselves and what they believe in without fear. 

Meryl Davies

A passionate advocate of comprehensive education, Meryl has taught in London schools for over thirty seven years. Currently Headteacher at Walthamstow School for Girls, a position she has held for seven years, she was previously Headteacher in Bromley for nine years.

Meryl has recently been awarded National Leader of Education status, a role which enables her to support school leaders nationally.  As well as a strong commitment to girls’ education through her work on the ASGS, she also represents high performing schools on the SSAT Leading Edge Steering Group and chairs the Waltham Forest Secondary Challenge Board. 

Two professional achievements of which you are most proud?

1.

Achieving NLE and Teaching School Status  (July 2017)

2.

Outstanding Ofsted inspection (June 2018)

Four words which best describe your approach to leadership?

1.

Passionate

2.

Determined

3.

Reflective

4.

Enabling

What have you learned about effective leadership most recently?

  • To focus on skilling up those colleagues around you, thus all potential leaders to have as many opportunities to widen their experiences as possible.
  • Be mindful always about clear communication and the workload of other colleagues at all levels.
  • Be prepared to apologise with dignity, even if you are not necessarily at fault!

 

What three pieces of advice would you give to a new headteacher colleague?

1.

Establish good relations with local Headteachers.

2.

Invest in building a strong leadership team which operates through trust, openness, integrity and humour. 

3.

Ensure balance within your working life and life outside school.

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models?

Previous Headteachers/line managers

 What do you view as the most pressing issues / challenges for girls and young women in our schools currently? 

Dealing with the pressures of social media, examinations and, for many, poverty and family expectations. 

Do you have any books that have been important to you professionally that you would recommend for our leadership library? 

Good to Great:                   Jim Collins

Women and Power:         Mary Beard

Evelyn Forde

Summary biography:

I am a mum of three amazing girls and a grandmother.  I have been in teaching for nearly 20 years and a Headteacher for the past 4 and a half years.  I started teaching at White Hart Lane School in Tottenham as a History Teacher and then moved to Hornsey School For Girls as a HOY.  It was here at Hornsey that I realised the power of girls’ education and it also got me thinking about senior leadership.  I joined the Future Leaders program in 2008 and have been in senior positions since then.  I secured my first Headship in April 2015 in Cambridgeshire but I missed London and I was ready for a new challenge and I am now Headteacher at Copthall School where I have been since September 2016. In 2016 I also acquired my NPQH and I have completed an Ofsted Shadowing Programe.  I am driven by the belief that all schools can, and must, transform the life chances of their students. Students who are socially and economically disadvantaged must have the same opportunities as those that are not, and we as educators must create schools where there is no attainment gap.  I believe in a holistic approach to education; we educate the whole person, socially, spiritually and emotionally as well as academically to ensure that they are successful adults who will engage in lifelong learning and contribute positively to their community. 

Outside of the classroom I am a Trustee for Franklin Scholars and I facilitate on Ambition School Leadership’s women only NPQH program.

 When time permits, I enjoy cycling and yoga and I travel frequently.

  Two professional achievements of which you are most proud?

1.

Moving Copthall from RI to Good in just over two years

 

2.

Gaining my NPQH whilst leading Copthall

 Four words which best describe your approach to leadership?

1.

Consistent

2.

Fair

3.

Ambitious

4.

Visionary

What have you learned about effective leadership most recently? 

It is important to have clarity of vision and purpose and that this should be effectively communicated.  Recognising the areas of strength and the areas of development of your team and then making sure you address these will lead to a much more productive team.  Know where your red lines are and stick to th 

What three pieces of advice would you give to a new headteacher colleague?

1

Avoid snap decisions – ‘time is the master’

2

Get to know your staff – be visible, it will go a long way to building relationships

3

Look after yourself

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models?

Rita Pierson ‘Every Child Needs a Champion’ is my go-to video for inspiration and to uplift me when the job gets hard. She believes in the power of relationships which totally resonates with me and it influences my practice and interactions on a daily basis 

What do you view as the most pressing issues / challenges for girls and young women in our schools currently? 

 Well-being  (anxiety/self harm/suicide)

Social Media

Do you have any books that have been important to you professionally that you would recommend for our leadership library? 

Fierce Conversations – Susan Scott

The Chimp Paradox – Steve Peters

Andy Platt

Coombe Girls’ School is an oversubscribed, single-sex, multi-ethnic, 11 to 19 school with a mixed sixth form. We are non-selective and inclusive within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames which includes two grammar schools. We have eight forms of entry, have held two specialisms and have been active in a very successful independent-state school partnership since 2003 with King’s College School in Wimbledon.  In May 2013, we received another successful Ofsted inspection and were judged to be “outstanding” for the fourth successive time, the school was awarded National Teaching School status in March 2014.

What is your present role & school?

I’m Headteacher at Coombe Girls’ School in the Royal London Borough of Kingston-Upon-Thames. I have over 20 years teaching experience in both inner and outer London comprehensive schools. I gained the status of Advanced Skills Teacher in 2002. My current and previous responsibilities on school leadership teams have enabled me to develop significant experience of leadership in secondary education. I have led Professional Development at School, Local Authority, Post-Graduate and at National level.  The diverse consultancy and training I have led includes work as Education Consultant for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, Kingfisher Books, G+T wise, Guardian Professional, NESTA, facilitation for National College of Teaching and Leadership and as a visiting lecturer taking responsibility for an M level module in Educational Leadership and Management.  In addition to being a committee member of ASGS I am a member of the NPQ Governance Board at The London Centre for Leadership in Learning UCL IoE and a regional Champion for WomenEd.

Two professional achievements of which you are most proud?

1.Coombe Girls’ School Progress 8 for disadvantaged girls consistently in the top 10%.

2.Embedding leadership at all levels at Coombe Girls’ School.

Four words which best describe your approach to leadership?

Participative; Distributed; Trustful; Strategic

What have you learned about effective leadership most recently?

My involvement with UCL IoE Leadership Colab is incredibly rewarding and engaging with the facilitation material as a Cluster Lead means that I am consistently revisiting and reviewing the most up-to-date research and information on leadership.  Facilitating the National Professional Qualifications enables me to be a part of an on-going conversation with participants which is as much about my learning as theirs.     

What three pieces of advice would you give to a new headteacher colleague?

  1. Understand and then be understood.
  2. Be outward looking and seek collaboration and partnership.
  3. Be Brave and then be #10% braver!

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models?

I am a descendant of a family of educators!  Whilst my mum who was a Deputy Headteacher passed away when I was just 7 years old, she remains an influential role model to this day.

At school and across the numerous partnership that I belong to are a whole host of inspirational mentors and role models.  I am lucky to work with some of the best teachers and leaders around!

What do you view as the most pressing issues / challenges for girls and young women in our schools currently?  

  1. Having the confidence to acknowledge that they are as good as, if not better than the next person.
  2. Being brave and bold in a society that can be challenging and frightening.
  3. Accepting excellence and self-worth and not being beaten down by doubt or perfectionism.

Do you have any books that have been important to you professionally that you would recommend for our leadership library? 

Two of my most recent reads include:

Leaders Eat Last          Simon Sinek

Legacy                        James Kerr   (Particularly if you like rugby)

Nicola Walters

Headteacher of Handsworth Wood Girls’ Academy in Handsworth, Birmingham, an 11 – 18 comprehensive academy. Our student intake is very diverse, of which we are very proud and which reflects our local community. Our ethos is based upon mutual respect for each other, and for the students to be proud of themselves as individuals, and to aspire to achieve success in all that they do during their time here.  We believe in educating the whole child with a curriculum suited to their needs, high quality teaching and learning, comprehensive careers education and guidance and a wide range of enrichment activities.

 Summary biography:

I started my career in Norfolk teaching French and German in 1983 in a 12 – 16 school on the coast for two years and then in an 11 – 16 school in a small rural town before moving back to the West Midlands in 1988 to teach in Sandwell. I took up a post in an 11 – 18 school initially as a main scale teacher, but was able to gain promotion very quickly. I spent 22 years in that school, but had a variety of roles: Head of French, Assistant Head of Department, Assistant Head of Year, Head of MFL, Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for CPD and Deputy Headteacher with responsibility for Staffing and the SSAT’s Leading Edge programme. I was also able to gain experience in curriculum and timetabling, behaviour management, finance, health and safety and a new build project during my deputy headship, and also completed two secondments in other schools in Sandwell to support them in improving their outcomes for students. I became a Headteacher in September 2010 in an all-girls comprehensive school which is very diverse in terms of ethnicity, religion and language. Two significant achievements are our conversion to academy status in November 2012 and two Ofsted inspections: Good in January 2011 and Outstanding in May 2014. I am also chair of governors of an alternative provision free school, which opened in September 2013 and became an Ofsted Inspector in 2015 which I have found extremely interesting.

 Two professional achievements of which you are most proud?

1.

Gaining my headship in 2010

2.

Achieving Outstanding in 2014

Four words which best describe your approach to leadership?

1.

Collaborative

2.

Determined

3.

Informed

4.

Inclusive

What have you learned about effective leadership most recently?

  • Have clear aims, which are communicated and shared with all stakeholders.
  • Take people with you by delegating appropriately, trusting them to do their job and liaising frequently so that you know what is going on.
  • Make your decisions based on what is best for the students.
  • Use emotional intelligence in managing staff, students and parents.
  • Patience, kindness, honesty and integrity.
  • Never shy away from difficult conversations, as the problem will simply continue.
  • You need to be brave, courageous and determined, but also be humble at times.
  • Ensure you have a balance in your life between work and home.

 What three pieces of advice would you give to a new headteacher colleague?

1.

Consistently base all that you think and do on the best interests of your students.

2.

Listen.

3.

Distribute leadership throughout the school and trust people to do their jobs, but monitor effectively.

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models?

Firstly my parents gave me many opportunities to learn about the world, its geography, history, culture and people as well as developing interests to take into adulthood. Secondly, a previous headteacher, Dame Enid Bibby DBE, with whom I worked for initially as head of MFL, then assistant headteacher and finally deputy headteacher. She recognised in me that I had the competencies and ability to become a headteacher, and therefore encouraged and supported me to realise this through coaching, relevant professional development and opportunities to experience areas of senior leadership outside of my job description.  (max 100 words)

What do you view as the most pressing issues / challenges for girls and young women in our schools currently? 

  • Ensuring that in our society equality between the sexes does actually mean equality in practice: at home, in the work place, and in society generally.
  • Raising aspirations is key to overcoming these barriers, supported by opportunities for girls and women to realise their goals in life, starting with a good education where girls have opportunities outside the classroom to develop their characters and interests as well as success in academic study.
  • Built into this, girls and women must have access to high quality advice, guidance and support so that they can be aware of the opportunities that on offer, and work towards their goals successfully.
  • Building their confidence to strive for success and roles of responsibility is also crucial so that they are never deterred at the first hurdle.
  • Changing mind-sets in society so that girls’ and women’s issues are taken seriously and resolved.

 Do you have any books that have been important to you professionally that you would recommend for our leadership library? 

 I like to read articles by Sir Ken Robinson and Andy Hargreaves which usually provide some very interesting ideas on teaching, learning and leadership.