Diary of a headteacher: Where are all the female leaders?

When our headteacher diarist is presumed to be a primary leader because she is a woman, she reflects on why secondary school leadership is still failing to close the gender gap…in SecEd.

I left my house at 7am this morning. A regular morning and not an unusual time to leave. This was not a usual journey, though. I was travelling to Colchester to join my first local authority headteacher conference.

It was actually a very interesting event. A former schools minister (and current Knight of the Realm) gave some thought-provoking ideas on school system change. Whether anyone in the room agreed with these suggestions was another question.

Next came the national director of education for Ofsted. Imagine two hours immersed in the proposed new framework with someone who has actually been involved in writing it. The truth about his presentation is perhaps surprising. He was very warm and engaging and, dare I say it, even funny. Imagine that.

An interesting conference overall, but something made me think. That morning I had been pleasantly surprised that many of the faces which had turned to stare as I made my grand late entrance (think pub scene from American Werewolf in London) had been female. However, as the day unfolded, my initial positivity changed. There were lots of female heads – but not in the secondary sector.

I remember reading some research when I started my headship last year. Statistics from the Department for Education show that 63 per cent of all teaching staff in English state-funded secondary schools are female. Despite this, just 38 per cent (1,400 of England’s 3,700 state secondaries) are headed by women. The gender ratio for all secondary school teaching staff in England suggests that this should actually be closer to 2,330 female headteachers. This statistic resonated with me as I sat among my peers, not least when one fellow head assumed with no prompting that I must be a primary school leader.

Read the full article Diary of a headteacher: Where are all the female leaders?

So where are they all? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter : Tamsin

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