By the end of International Women’s Week we’re delighted to confirm that we’ve had an incredible response to the Pledge sign-up. Thank you to the Teaching School Alliances, the governing boards, the schools, leadership organisations, university departments and individuals who have not only signed the Pledge but also sent innovative examples of what they’re each doing to bring the Pledge alive, to shift the gender imbalance in school headship.
Some messages have asked how The Pledge came about and who The Leading Women’s Alliance is. So here’s the context …..
The Pledge forms part of the Leading Women to Headship Strategic Plan which aims to implement the outcomes from the Leading Women to Headship Summit, held on 15th January 2016 in London, in which over 100 school and system leaders and policy makers developed a set of strategies to address the gender imbalance in school headship. Our Leading Women to Headship Strategy, including promotion of The Pledge, serves to build both the quantity and quality of headteachers, thereby improving the likelihood of every school, and groups of schools, being led by an effective Headteacher.
The Summit was organised by The Leading Women’s Alliance, 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 Schools Alliance). The day was informed by a range of research evidence and practical expertise . It provided practical tips for women seeking to secure headship and considered the changes we need to make in the wider educational landscape to enable their progression. Delegates left inspired and supported to apply for headships. A network of over 80 women wanting to coach /be coached by experienced women headteachers had been formed.
The Summit Planning Group met in February 2016 to analyse delegate evaluations and Summit outcomes, in order to develop a two year strategic plan. Our objectives have been prioritised as follows:
- To disseminate and implement the Leading Women to Headship Pledge across schools, governing boards /recruitment panels, leadership organisations and government. The Pledge operates at both organisational, system level and at individual, professional level. It serves to influence change in practice across the school system in order to counteract factors that may deter or prevent women being recruited to headship and which supports authentic leadership for women in headship
- To coach, mentor and apprentice a network of women considering headship/executive headship by matching aspiring heads to experienced, serving women headteachers who will encourage and support women into headship
- To create and deliver a professional development framework made up of programmes for the following groups: (a) aspiring women leaders , enabling them to approach headship with confidence, with a secure knowledge and skills base and with a peer network which nurtures women heads nationally (b) support for new women heads in their first year of headship (c) governing boards /interview panels in order to challenge gender inequity through unconscious bias
- To develop a Leading Women to Headship pool of researchers, speakers and facilitators, who effectively present key issues to a wide range of audiences and continue to research inequity in school leadership.
The Leading Women’s Alliance will endeavour to fulfil it’s strategic plan, with a particular emphasis on encouraging individuals, schools and leadership organisations to sign the Pledge. Regular blogs and headlines for the network will be sent using newsletters as well as blogs, so that the network is kept alive and informed.
So, the message is, although the week of International Women’s Day is over, the work of The Pledge has only just begun. keep on promoting our message. Encourage others to sign The Leading Women to Headship Pledge. Let’s aim to empower more women to headteachers, so that every child can benefit from going to a school lead by a great Headteacher.