We were so proud of Newton Prep this
week, when we – and our co-hosts from St George’s – threw open our gates to
Secretary of State for Education Nicky
Morgan MP, Jane Ellison MP, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Shami Chakrabarti,
psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos and experienced head Bernice McCabe and over
170 delegate teachers for our ‘Empowering Women in Education Leadership’
Nicky Morgan, introduced to the stage by her old friend and our staunch supporter, Battersea MP Jane Ellison, spoke warmly about the need for women to pursue leadership opportunities. With teaching dominated 90% by female teachers, but with men accounting for at least a third of headships, there is clearly a point at which men outstrip women in the pursuit of senior positions. In my own speech, I talked about my own passion for breaching the citadel of male-dominated leadership teams and encouraged the delegates to take a leap of faith into leadership based on an improved self-belief . TV psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos then took up the baton and spoke about the hurdles that women erect for themselves: the confidence gap between men and women (men wing it, women under-sell themselves) and gave out some key psychological tips for getting ahead as a woman (for example: key into the perception that women are nurturers, by making demands based on the need of 'the team' rather than personal requests). Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Shami Chakrabarti then had the audience spellbound, as they both talked about their personal life experiences. Doreen Lawrence spoke about the circumstances that led her to having leadership thrust upon her, saying that she thought it was so important that as you climb up the ladder to power, that you never pull the ladder up after you, but instead reach down and lend the next person along a helping hand up. Finally, after lunch, Bernice McCabe, a headmistress of 24 years' standing, gave her experienced perspective of what it takes for women to get into school leadership, with Jan Hilary and I concluding the conference. Jan gave a wonderful, impassioned send-off to the delegates, making sure that they left with an empowered spring in their step!
It was certainly the biggest ‘outside’ event we have hosted at the
school and involved a certain amount of disruption, so I am grateful to both
staff and parents for bearing with us on that front and appreciating the
‘bigger picture’ of how immeasurably this has added to Newton Prep’s reputation
outside our school gates.
One delegate who wrote to thank me said, “Over 170 educationalists are going away and will mention Newton Prep as being an amazing place, to probably 20 friends and colleagues… and each of them will play it forward. You can’t pay for that sort of coverage!"
Hearing debate and insights from both independent and
state teachers all day, I was delighted by the very real partnership it
represents between us and St George’s Cof E Primary; we are beginning to
develop some exciting initiatives with the wonderful Jan Hilary and Sarah
Collymore there. Many delegates remarked upon not only the amazing facilities
of Newton but the smiling friendliness of both our children and our staff.
- Headmistress Alison Fleming
Alison & SoS Nicky Morgan
Jan Hilary speaking
Spontaneous thanks from one delegate!