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Diversity in educational leadership

Watch this video in which female school leaders from minority ethnic groups discuss the challenges they faced when striving for leadership positions.
Being an assistant head teacher is very personal to me in terms of when I grew up, I was the very first female in my family to go to university and I was very passionate about making change. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I did a degree in chemistry and from that, when I became a teacher, I realised that that was my passion and as I’ve gone through the teaching system, I’ve realised that there is very few ethnic minority, female women in leadership posts and for me, I want to make change and bring about change and see for young people that I can be a role model and I can show them that they can equally have a leadership post in any school institution and strive at it, and it’s possible to do that.
When I took on the assistant head role, it was a new role and it was more about leading across this way and across the school. So I up skilled staff, I delivered training for assessment recording and reporting. But I didn’t have any direct staff, I wasn’t responsible for any staff directly and then I had to liaise with my colleagues, the deputy head at the time to delegate to members of staff. I also knew, recognised that actually as a leader, you have to lead people. So I wanted more opportunities to lead people.
So I took performance management opportunities to lead some of the staff across the school, which was great in on section school, senior school and primary school as well and that gave me opportunities. I put it in my own performance management with the head that I want to aspire to be a deputy head and get the opportunities through coaching, through shadowing him, through shadowing the deputies to give me that range of experience. To become a senior leader in a school is my dream. I want to be a head teacher.
Currently in the country in the state sector, only nought point two percent of Pakistani female head teachers exist and that is minute if you think about the working population of head teachers and teachers generally, and for me it’s about bringing about that change. When I did the MA and I was on, I was interviewing for it and one of the professors on the interview panel said to me that for a woman to become a head teacher, you have to reach a glass ceiling and for an ethnic minority woman to become a head teacher, you need to break that glass ceiling and I now see that today when I’m looking at being in a leadership role and I can see what the statistics show.
I want to be that person that breaks that glass ceiling. I want to make that difference and I hope maybe in the future, in the next 12 years, that’s my aim, to become a head teacher. That’s my journey for me. I can really make that change. So if you have a vision and you want to be a role model, which is what I want to do, you can bring about that change. So take that step and become a senior leader and make that change.

Before we get started with this week’s topics, we want to hear your thoughts on an important issue within educational leadership: diversity.

Teaching has long been a female-dominated profession, yet only 36% of headteachers at secondary schools in England are women (O’Conor, 2015). What’s more, in 2019, over 92% of headteachers in the UK were White British (DfE, 2021).

Watch the video above in which female school leaders from minority ethnic groups discuss the challenges they faced when striving for leadership positions and how they overcame them.

Your task

How do you think schools could benefit from greater diversity at the leadership level and what can be done to help close the gap?
Share your thoughts in the comments section.


O’Conor, L. (2015, February 11). Where are all the female headteachers? The Guardian. Web link

Department for Education. (2021, February 18). School teacher workforce. Web link

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Educational Leadership: Improving Schools through Effective Leadership

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