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!

Violet Walker

I am Headteacher at Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School in Barnet.  Queen Elizabeth 1 granted Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s request for a Royal Charter for the establishment of a school in her name for the education of boys and later for another for the education of girls.  The boys’ school was founded in 1573 and ours for girls, some 300 years later in 1888.  Currently national data indicates girls are ahead of boys in many academic statistical measures.  We continue to believe in the value of single gender education and embrace advocacy for female empowerment following the traditions of the pioneering first Headmistress of the school.  The school became fully comprehensive by the 1980s, having been a Grammar School when I attended in the early 70s. Since 2011 it has had Single Academy Converter status.  I took up its headship in September 2015 when the school was judged to be a Requires Improvement school.

I am proud that the school has sustained Progress 8 scores of above +1 for the last two years and that there are no gaps in any identified group. All indicators are significantly positive. We are one of only three schools in London to be recognised by the Mayor of London Success for Schools Award for three consecutive years, for our work with disadvantaged students and those of low prior attainment.  In the top 1% of secondary schools nationally, this year the Progress 8 score for LPAs is +1.73.  Through the Mayor’s Programme and the SSAT Leading Edge Programme, we work with other schools nationally, to share our best practice to support systems improvement.

Previously as an Assistant Headteacher, I worked with the National College as part of the London Leadership Strategy to develop teaching across Greater London and to write and deliver a programme to build capacity in sixth forms in Greater London and Greater Manchester.

In 2012, as a Special Leader of Education and sole Deputy, I joined an Inner London mixed comprehensive school in Special Measures. I supported the school out of Measures in a year and worked with its female Headteacher, Mrs Gloria Lowe, to develop a leadership team that supported the school’s further improvement to a securely Good Ofsted judgement, two years later. Gloria Lowe gave me a broad learning platform in a short space of time, for which I am appreciative.  Having become a mathematics teacher some ten years earlier, my third career since university, begun in my forties, you could say that the experience cemented my fast track to headship.  Women supporting each other on any level is an important dynamic to model to girls.

I have been inspired by many people throughout my education and leadership journey; most recently by Mary Myatt and her work on educational values.  I have been asked to list four words which I believe describe my approach to leadership.  I would say, strategic, ethical, creative and courageous.  Twenty-first century state school leaders certainly need to have courage to lead their schools, given the increasing level of underfunding we experience on an annual basis.

I am delighted to be Joint President of ASGS.  The opportunity to champion the collective work of our schools in advancing the education of girls so that they can be academically, socially and economically independent young women in the future, is a privilege.  Individual schools benefit from the collaboration offered among our members and collectively we benefit the education of girls everywhere, when we speak as one.


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.

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

Deputy Executive Headteacher, Coombe Academy Trust

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.

The Coombe Academy Trust comprises of five schools within the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames.

What is your present role & school?

I’m Deputy Executive Headteacher of the Coombe Academy Trust. I have over 25 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 partnerships 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.

 

Julian Dutnall

 

Please provide details of your present role & outline information about school:

I am currently Executive Headteacher of Frances Bardsley Academy in Romford in the London Borough of Havering.  The school is 8 FE with a strong focus on positive mental health, wellbeing and creativity as well as strong outcomes for all students.  I am also CEO of the LIFE Education Trust which consists of five academies and one independent school in Essex and Havering.

 

Summary biography:

After studying Law, qualifying as a barrister and working as a Crown Prosecutor for two years, I made a major career change into teaching in 1997. Since then I have worked in five schools in three different local authorities.  Three of these were girls’ schools. 

I became Headteacher at FBA in September 2011 and have been on the ASGS Steering Group since then serving as Joint President for three years.  Last year I became a founder committee member of the Global Action Research Collaborative into Girls Education which consists of educators from Australia, America and the UK.  I am a serial student, finally finished my MBA last year and have now started a professional doctorate.   I am married with three children two of whom are currently at University.

 

Two professional achievements of which you are most proud?

 

1.

Helping to build an ethos based multi academy trust

2.

Seeing my staff develop and grow into leadership positions

 

 

Four words which best describe your approach to leadership?

 

1.

Thoughtful

2.

Pragmatic

3.

Visionary

4.

Creative

 

What have you learned about effective leadership most recently?

Most recently I have been studying the importance of values in leadership.  Performance and achievement are obviously very important.  Equally, having a sense of your own self, your strengths and weaknesses but also your values and what motivates you is crucial.  This enables you to be consistent and to work from what you believe to be important even when decisions have to be made quickly and with limited information.

 

 

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

 

1

Don’t give up

2

Find a mentor

3

Learn who you are

 

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models?

 

A number of people have been extremely influential in my life.  In particular I have met regularly with a friend, who is not a teacher, almost every week for nearly twenty years to share life.  My former headteachers such as Nicole Chapman at Chelmsford County High have helped shaped who I am and what I believe.  Currently I follow Arianna Huffington and Lisa Damour and find their work highly thought provoking.

 

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

I think mental health is clearly a huge issue at the moment.  For me it is about helping to find our identity and learning to succeed in the ways that we want.  The current UK educational obsession with data, results and improvement has some benefits but can also cause serious health issues if not managed intelligently and thoughtfully.  Another important area is identity and I believe we are only beginning to explore this. 

 

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

 

Lisa Damour’s books: Untangled and Under Pressure

Leadership on the Line by Ron Heifetz

A Survival Guide To Life by Bear Grylls

 

Stephen Lawlor

 

I was appointed as Headteacher of Chelmsford County High School for Girls (CCHS) in 2019, having served as Deputy Headteacher for eight years at the school. CCHS is a proud grammar school community and has been delivering outstanding educational opportunities to girls since 1907. We, as the twenty-first century guardians of this significant inheritance, have chosen to honour this legacy by defining and pursuing an ambition for CCHS to be progressive grammar school, committed to excellence in girls’ education and empowerment.

 

We are pioneering – increasing to six forms of entry from September 2020, we hold to a determination to achieve greater social diversity as our community grows and evolves. Working with our increasing number of partner primary schools, we share our expertise regarding teaching able students from all backgrounds to ensure that talent and aspiration are served.

 

We are engaged – teaching & learning practice is strengthened by working with the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE), with leadership & management practice being developed through our work with the Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI). 

We are dynamic – students are provided with a wealth of opportunities, as we work with the Association of State Girls’ Schools (ASGS) in Britain and the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) internationally, to instil confidence, fire ambition and promote advancement.

Summary biography:

 

I was born in London, and lived for several years in the Republic of Ireland before relocating to Essex. I read History at the University of Essex. I considered training to be a solicitor, having worked in two law firms in London, but realising that they earned far too much money, I decided to pursue my passion. I secured my PGCE at the Institute of Education and went on to teach History at Robert Clack School, Dagenham. I undertook Head of Sixth Form work there, before moving to be Head of History at The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School, Upminster. I moved in to senior leadership there and then secured my Deputy Headship at CCHS. Additional qualifications gained during my teaching career include PGCPSE (Open) and NPQH (UCL IoE). I am married with two daughters and enjoy spending quality time with my family, listening to an eclectic mix of music, film, reading and long walks.

 

 

Two professional achievements of which you are most proud?

 

1.

Becoming (and staying) a teacher. My work with every student that I have taught and supported is a great source of pride. The joy and privilege that teaching brings is immeasurable. Being able to share your subject passion and exercise your leadership acumen is so professionally rewarding.

2.

Being appointed Headteacher of CCHS. Knowing the history of the school, its standing in the local community and country, and being immersed in the CCHS community for several years already – this is a very special professional moment.

 

 

Four words which best describe your approach to leadership?

 

1.

Ethical

2.

Listener

3.

Creative

4.

Determined

 

What have you learned about effective leadership most recently?

For all the issues that one faces, whether they be big or small, relating to students, staff, finances or buildings, you must always remain focused on making principled decisions. And at the heart of this is people – what will be the human cost? Leadership is one thing. Educational leadership is quite another.

 

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

 

1

Enjoy the responsibility and opportunities you will have – shaping lives and making a significant difference in your community.

2

Listen to advice from your colleagues – and remember to seek this advice, even when it is not forthcoming.

3

Stay true to yourself and make time for you, your family and friends.

 

Who have been your influential mentors/ role models?

My first Headteacher at Robert Clack, Sir Paul Grant, was a font of determined energy and impassioned to transform the school – which he did. David Mansfield, Headteacher of The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School when I was there, was a creative free-thinker – a real inspiration. The most significant role model for me is Nicole Chapman, former Headteacher of CCHS. The way she blends standards, passion, wisdom and compassion is just wonderful. And finally, daily interactions with students and colleagues – you learn so much every day.

 

 

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

 

Our schools provide safe, caring and stimulating environments for our students. The pernicious side of the internet age, with the misuse of social media, cyber-bullying, etc. have generated a range of issues that are harmful to girls and young women in particular. Our job is to work hard to provide the very best education to these wonderful girls, to empower them meet the challenges and seize the opportunities when they move on. We, as leaders of girls’ schools, have a duty to be guided by the example and courage of the Suffragists and the Suffragettes to recognise that much has been achieved, but so much more needs to be done to ensure equality and justice for young women as they make their way their professional lives.

 

 

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

 

Rather than straightforward leadership and management texts, I would recommend:

 

  • Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’ – a seminal work, providing an intellectual framework for female empowerment and leadership.
  • Diane Atkinson’s ‘Rise Up, Women! – an insightful exploration of the lives of the Suffragettes, with lessons in moral courage and determined campaigning.
  • Mary Beard’s ‘Women and Power: A Manifesto’ – both a historical and a personal story about identifying and challenging stereotypes, realising ambition and taking on the responsibility to be a leading voice calling for change.