Two thirds of all teachers are female and yet only one third of Headteachers are female. Many years ago, when I first heard this startling statistic, I decided to try to find out why that was (this decision became my Masters). The research cites a number of reasons including the obvious (women have children and are more likely to put their career second once they have a family), the worrying (leadership is more often perceived as a male domain) and the interesting (relationships with fathers and early mentors are key to enabling female leadership).
Certainly formative experiences are all important for female leadership aspirations... from school days to early career. This makes me very glad that one of the strengths of High Storrs School is the inclusive and supportive culture. There is not a certain way to be in our school. At High Storrs you get to be who you are. This brings to mind one of the best things I read whilst researching leadership; 'the leader you are comes from the person you are' (Bennis and Nanis). I have shared this quotation so many times; with students, with the aspiring female leaders on our 'Leading Women' programme and when speaking at WomenEd events, because it gives women young and old permission to be a different kind of leader; to not try to ape something that they think a leader should be. We are seeing a lot of different approaches to leadership in the country and the world at the moment; some admirable and some deeply worrying.
I think the girls at High Storrs are well placed to be in the next generation of admirable leaders…and, of course, the boys too. I have really relished my meetings with the Student Council representatives this year – they are always thoughtful, always articulate and always passionate. They have persuaded us to trial a ‘phone zone’, they have led a campaign to tackle litter, they have reviewed feedback from our ‘safe spaces, happy places’ form discussion and identified steps we need to take to tackle secret smokers and use our gorgeous building even better at lunchtime. These students (and the fabulous, outgoing Y13 Head Team) demonstrate that leadership is quiet, is soft, is gregarious, is loud, is pragmatic, is principled and so very much more.