Headteacher at Coombe Girls’ School & Sixth Form
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?
- Understand and then be understood.
- Be outward looking and seek collaboration and partnership.
- 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?
- Having the confidence to acknowledge that they are as good as, if not better than the next person.
- Being brave and bold in a society that can be challenging and frightening.
- 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)