Thank you to everyone who joined us for SSAT’s Women in Leadership and Education event on 4 May. The contributions of all our speakers and participants made for a powerful, thought provoking and truly inspirational day.
Being in a room full of amazing, passionate, experienced, and aspiring female leaders and role models made that day something very special. As participants arrived, it was evident from their smiles, comments, sighs of relief, and relaxed conversations with new acquaintances, how greatly a chance to step away from the day-to-day to come together to focus on this important theme was appreciated and needed.
At the start of the event participants were asked to briefly share the mood, energy or spirit that they were bringing to our day. Excitement, pride, hopefulness, a desire to learn, build relationships, extend networks, seek motivation, and make change happen were amongst the energies driving those present in the room. Also expressed was frustration and anger at the fact that in 2023 gender inequalities in our sector persist and barriers that hinder the progression of women, and particularly women of colour, into the top leadership roles, continue to exist.
We were privileged to be able to draw on the wisdom and wealth of experience of an exceptional line up of speakers to inform and stimulate discussion and influence actions.
- Baroness Sue Campbell’s captivating session provided some great lessons in leadership. Refocusing us on our moral purpose and mission, there was much to take away and apply from her insightful comments on culture, attitude, team, resilience, ambition and creativity.
- Facts presented by Vivienne Porritt, OBE, and especially those that relate to the gender pay gap, were eye-opening. Her empowering message urged us to explore and unleash our superpowers, bravely challenge the status quo and become catalysts of change.
- Evelyn Forde, OBE, shared personal experiences that highlighted specific challenges faced by black, Asian and minority ethnic women on leadership journeys. Her “golden nuggets” offered invaluable advice on being true to oneself, knowing one’s worth, networking and seizing opportunities
Our serving school leader panellists Angela, Joan, Sophie and Tina very honestly reflected on their different pathways to leadership and on personal and professional challenges they have had to overcome. Each panellist gave their views on how gender inequalities in our schools and in the system can be tackled. Their words of advice were uplifting, and much was said that resonated with and encouraged the experienced and aspiring leaders gathered.
A key aim for the for the day was to create a safe space in which stories could be shared and achievements celebrated. The lively discussions and engaged interactions in every session, as well as during breaks and lunch confirmed how crucial events and activities like this are in helping us sustain the momentum to actively address gender inequity.
Everyone left the session re-energised and buzzing with ideas about how they were going to apply learning from the day to themselves, in their schools and further afield.
This week’s edition of Sunday Supplement shares four steps that all school leaders can take to support female colleagues into leadership and to ensure equal opportunities for all. We hope that you will reflect on these, share them with colleagues and identify small changes that could work in your context.
Coaching was mentioned by many of our speakers as an invaluable tool to support progression. SSAT offers a wide range of support to schools looking to develop their practice in coaching; further details are provided at the end of this edition of Sunday supplement.
In the run up to the event, incredible female leaders from across the network contributed videos, blogs and profile pieces focused on our theme and on these three key questions:
- What has helped or inspired your own journey into leadership?
- What should schools focus on to address barriers to the progression of women into leadership?
- What advice, tip, or word of encouragement do you have for the next generation of female leaders?
You can use the questions in your schools to help encourage reflection, generate discussion and shape strategy. If you would like to share the outcomes of discussions with us in a blog or short video, get in touch with your Relationship Manager.
Our school leader panellists were:
- Angela Appleby, Deputy Headteacher, Haydon School
- Joan Deslandes OBE, Headteacher, Kingsford Community School
- Sophie Powell, Executive Headteacher, The Compass Partnership of Schools
- Tina Harvey, Executive Headteacher, Perseid School
Develop coaching in your school with SSAT
We provide national online training, bespoke support and 1:1 coaching sessions.