Launching the first ASCL women-only, fully-accredited NPQSL on International Women’s Day (8 March), and preparing to share more at the forthcoming ASCL Annual Conference, is generating much excitement, for we do so in the knowledge that this is a key intervention in redressing the gender and BAME imbalance in school and college leadership.
The power and impact of women-only leadership programmes has been demonstrated by the success of those run by NPQ providers which have utilised the Equality and Diversity Fund. Building on what we have learnt from our experience of designing and delivering on so many such programmes, we in the Leading Women's Alliance (LWA) are delighted to be working in partnership with ASCL Professional Development and Leadership Live, run by Lawrence Sheriff School (which has experience of delivering a full range of accredited NPQ programmes). We know what makes for an effective women’s leadership programme because our network of women school and college leaders tell us at our regular Women Prepare For and Support Through Headship Pop-Ups, as well as other Teaching School Alliance programmes. What is striking is that we always have fun and top tips to share, whilst building a network of women leaders who develop confidence and resilience. Women share solutions and network with other women leaders within a nurturing and challenging peer-learning programme led by our partnership team of experienced women leaders who understand leadership issues that affect women in particular.
So why a Women’s NPQSL and why now?
There’s been an increase in the number of early stage senior leaders - Assistant Heads – over the past six years, as set out in School Leadership in England 2010 to 2016: Characteristics and Trends, July 2018. This group is less experienced, progressing more rapidly to leadership than previously, and over half are women. This, then, is our pool of potential school and college leaders who we need to encourage and equip to become (and retain) as our leaders of the future. We need to encourage them to become a network, a support group to which they may turn when challenges arise and the going gets tough. In that pool are women we need to cherish now so that they stay to cherish our schools and colleges of the future.
The time is right. Ensuring that we build greater diversity in leadership is not enough – what we do and how we do it as women leaders in post is what matters. Kate Chhatwal clarifies the LWA vision as an organisation when she writes “ethical and values driven leadership in a divided society need strong values-led leadership in today's divided world”. ASCL’s launch of ASCL’s recent launch of an Ethical Leadership Framework driven by pioneering Headteacher and commission chair Carolyn Roberts, supports this focus. At a time of such national and international turbulence we need to grow our next generation of school leaders with an ethical framework. The Women’s NPQSL supports this endeavour.
So, in essence, the ASCL Women’s NPQSL Programme will grow and nourish the pool of women and BAME Assistant Heads, and early senior leaders, to develop the ethical, values-driven and diverse leadership that our schools and colleges need. They will achieve an accredited, nationally recognised leadership qualification by completing a leadership project focused on improving outcomes for our children and young people.
Join us at our interactive workshop
We look forward to welcoming everyone interested in supporting, enrolling on or simply finding out more about this innovative programme at our forthcoming interactive workshop, We’re On! Evaluating, promoting and accrediting women’s leadership through ASCL’s Women’s NPQSL at 11.30am on Saturday 16 March.
You will leave with leadership top tips, as well as the knowledge that you are contributing to a forward-thinking and accredited leadership programme which equips our leaders of the future - a sign of things to come.
Carol Jones is Chair of the Leading Women’s Alliance and Course Director for the ASCL Women’s NPQSL. She is a twice-serving secondary headteacher and former Leadership Specialist for ASCL.