Sign up to our pledge

We are proud to launch The Leading Women’s Alliance Pledge today, on International Women’s Day, in order to encourage and empower more women to take up headship.

We want individuals and organisations across the education sector to sign up to the Pledge and commit to taking specific actions that will ensure every child benefits from going to a school led by a great headteacher. This means drawing deeper from the pool of female leadership potential in our schools.

The Pledge was developed by the Leading Women’s Alliance and refined by over 100 women school leaders, researchers and development organisations at our Leading Women to Headship Summit in January. It recognises that the contributions we can make depend on the role(s) we play – as recruiters, employers, leaders and mentors, development organisations, individuals, colleagues and role models. Many individuals and organisations fulfill more than one role. The bullets below each element of the Pledge are suggestions that delegates at the Summit made about how to make the Pledge a reality.

Support the Pledge by leaving your details below and let us know what you plan to do or are already doing to encourage and empower more women to take up headship.

The Pledge

We want to encourage and empower more women to take up headship.

We pledge the following:

In recruitment, to manage explicit and unconscious bias in the recruitment process and offer flexible working.

  • Adverts stipulate openness to job-shares or part-time working, where feasible
  • Use blind short-listing
  • Design interview and assessment to minimise impact of individual bias
  • Assessor training to include training on unconscious bias and taking unconscious bias test
  • Independent quality assurance of recruitment processes
  • Identify and monitor ineffective or discriminatory interview practice by governors, liaising with National Governors’ Association to improve practice

As employers, to ensure there is no pay gap between men and women doing the same role.

  • Develop and publish fair and transparent pay systems
  • Audit current pay structures and address any discrepancies
  • Publish salary differences between male and female school leaders

As leaders and mentors, to nurture female talent in our schools and communities, and champion aspiring female leaders at all levels.

  • Use appraisal and professional reviews to systematically identify talent and potential at all levels (including for non-executive roles)
  • ‘Aiming off’ for our own unconscious biases to ensure leaders from diverse and underrepresented groups are spotted
  • Have explicit conversations with those whose talent has been identified – give them a ‘tap on the shoulder’
  • Work across schools in a multi-academy trust, local authority or region to consider how best to identify, nurture and deploy talent to maximise opportunities for talented individuals
  • Create a culture of opportunity – distribute leadership opportunities; create/point people in the direction of training, mentoring and support programmes
  • Champion well-being, flexible working, job shares, etc. and ensure staff are aware of their rights
  • Be a role model of how to be a great leader and have a life

As leadership development organisations, to provide programmes, mentors and support to empower women and build their confidence to be authentic leaders.

  • Facilitate networking and match-making between people looking to job share
  • Provide more coaching/mentoring opportunities
  • Offer more conferences and training opportunities tailored to the needs of women
  • Give feedback
  • Encourage individuality
  • Share success stories

As individuals, to be determined, resilient and committed to leading our schools so that every child receives a great education.

  • Always keep the ‘why’ in mind – vision, values and ethos with children at their heart – and revisit often
  • Take time to reflect
  • Look after own health and well-being
  • Go for it! Recognise that you don’t have to have mastered everything before taking the next step

As colleagues and role models, to create a diverse and supportive network of female leaders and aspiring female leaders who share our goal of transforming the life chances of children and young people.

  • Walk the talk. Be a role model of how to be a great leader and have a life; collectively demonstrate that there are many different approaches
  • Join networking forums and contribute to them as speakers, on Twitter, etc.
  • Commit to mentoring/coaching an aspiring female leader – NCTL are asking those willing to do so to sign up here
  • Act as a role model: aspire and inspire; challenge and take risks
  • Recognise and address your own unconscious bias
  • Have the same high expectations and openness towards adults as we do to children
  • Champion and advocate BAME leaders
  • Be a governor
  • Ensure male colleagues are attuned to the challenges women can face

The Leading Women’s Alliance

The Leading Women’s Alliance is an alliance of leadership and academic organisations (ASCL, The Future Leaders Trust, UCL/IoE and #WomenEd) and schools (Mulberry School for Girls and Hackney Teaching School). We came together to plan and deliver the Leading Women to Headship Summit in January 2016. The Pledge was initiated by The Leading Women’s Alliance and further developed by over 100 female delegates from across the education sector at the Summit.


Support the Pledge by leaving your details below and let us know what you plan to do or are already doing to encourage and empower more women to take up headship.



26 thoughts on “Sign up to our pledge

  1. When I see an advert I will pass it on to a potential candidate and encourage them to apply because they have the ability and skills. Moral support is vital.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I pledge to promote a change in working patterns to enable amazing women to lead in education! It’s time to thing differently about established roles and enable women everywhere to be mothers and leaders.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m signing up as an individual who is a woman leader and is passionate about supporting women into headship having been a head myself. I am also signing on behalf of @WomenEd, the grassroots organisation already supporting and enacting the aims of the Pledge. We do this through our 8 Cs, our Twitter account, our events and through our 12 regional networks. We want to partner, support and help.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. As a Vice Principal of a London school I pledge to ensure that there is equality of opportunity and parity across teams for wowen in my workplace. I have been fortunate to have been inspired, motivated and challenged by a range of inspirational women throughout my career. In turn, I will ensure that active talent-spotting, coaching and celebration of skill becomes the norm for women. Furthermore, as someone who aspires to Headship myself, I will endeavour to be the very best version of myself and demonstrate a ‘we can’ attitude in everything that I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As headteacher of an Oxfordshire primary school I pledge to be a role-model for strong female leaders in education. Leadership is tough, challenging, rewarding, fulfilling and a rollercoaster of highs and lows – consistency is key, as is a relentless tenacity to hold true to the vision you have for your school, even when the educational climate threatens to pull you down.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As former deputy headteacher, teacher educator and currently researcher in gender and educational leadership at the University of Nottingham, I pledge to use my research to inspire women to take up leadership toles and reponsiblities in all its forms and to encourage others to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The Future Leaders Trust is proud to support the Leading Women’s Alliance Pledge. We are committed to ensuring that all children go to schools led by great headteachers. Last year more than 50% of those we supported to headship were women. We will continue to do all we can to enable the exceptional women leaders in our network to become great headteachers, and we will share our expertise in this area with schools and other organisations. Our aim in all we do is to improve outcomes for children across the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. St. Francis’ College girls’ school has an ethos of instilling social responsibility and compassion into the hearts of our pupils. The College is committed to inspiring our girls to go and seek their dream by showing them that with hard work and determination they can make things happen. We seek to provide them with the skills to flourish into confident and able young ladies equipped with the drive and expertise to succeed in today’s global marketplace. We hope that they in turn will have the compassion to inspire and lead the next generation.

    On the eve of International Women’s Day we launched our programme of inspirational talks at St. Francis’ College. Between 7-8.30pm last night we heard from three women who each had their own inspirational story to tell. Brita Fernandez Schmidt (Executive Director of Women for Women International), Wendy Smith (GB ladies basketball team representing our country at the 2004 Paralympic games in Athens) and Emily Jupp (Inspirational founder of the award winning Millie J Shoes – special edition shoe-sculptures and art-to-wear shoes).

    At the same time, we sought to promote awareness of the charity ‘Women for Women International’ and their #sheinspiresme campaign. Since 1993, Women for Women International have helped nearly 429,000 marginalized women from countries affected by war and conflict.

    At the end of the talks, our guests were invited for refreshments, where we served canapés inspired by the Women for Women International cookbook. Today, our girls have come in dressed as women who inspire them. Over the past two days we have raised enough money to sponsor two women from the Women for Women International programme.

    As an Assistant Head teacher I am passionate about providing a safe environment for children, where they can take risks and thrive. Equipping the children with the skills to become whatever they choose to be, and in turn hopefully inspiring our young ladies to be successful future leaders. I pledge to be a role-model for strong female leaders in education.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The TBAP Teaching School Alliance, led by a female part time headteacher is committed to supporting this. I am personally committed to supporting, developing and growing other female Headteachers and senior leaders. Our Trust Executive Leadership team is 50/50 gender balanced and stronger for it. We are delivering the National College Diverse Leaders Programme with immense success. We are also hosting the first @WomenEd Regional Event in London.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I feel it is so important to have the very best school leaders in place and women are so greatly underrepresented in school leadership at the moment. As a serving secondary school head, I pledge to coach and mentor female staff with the potential for leadership, have open conversations with them about the challenges female leaders can face, and support them in overcoming those challenges and realising their own potential.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As a current Vice Principal, with experience of advisory work and Ofsted training I am inspired and hope to inspire those potential leaders around me to recognise their potential and strive to lead with confidence and commitment. I just have to make that next step too.


  12. I greatly welcome and embrace this movement which is most timely. Passionate about every child succeeding, we must as leaders encourage women to lead and harness their talents. As Head Teacher of an All Through School, we are committed to seeing this thread run through our work with both the youngest and oldest girls. I pledge to coach, mentor and promote women as leaders.


  13. At Oasis Academy Enfield we are happy to sign up the this pledge and are proud that 70% of our senior leadership team are not only female, but all aspiring to be the next generation of headteachers.


  14. Encourage all developing women leaders to have the confidence to put themselves forward for promotion in the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership.


    1. As a newly appointed Head, I will be proactively encouraging my female staff (and my female students) to have confidence in their ability to lead and ensuring they receive targeted Professional Learning support and development to move on successfully in their careers.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. WomenEd are delighted to continue as a partner of the Leading Women’s Alliance. Our community and our regional networks offer events tailored to the needs of women, encourage individuality and share and highlight success stories in keeping with our mantra of being #10%braver. Our values empower and support women leaders to be authentic and to collaborate and challenge to bring about much needed change.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Southwark Teaching School Alliance is proud to support the Leading Women’s Alliance. By identifying and nurturing talented women leaders so that they are inspired and equipped to take on headships and executive leadership roles, we will play our part in ensuring more children and young people are able to go to schools led by great headteachers.


  17. The Primary First Trust is proud to support the Leading Women’s Alliance through our work with The leading women in education coaching work.
    We will continue to coach and develop our women leaders to become school and Trust leaders.


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