Its said that as 74% of teachers are female, the fact that there are 65% female heads means there are female heads “missing” in England. My problem with saying women heads are “missing” is that it assumes they all did want to be heads. Some may not want to leave the classroom. Some may want to continue doing the thing they became teachers to do ie teach a class full of children. So, they may not be actually “missing”. We aren’t looking for them in the right place, the classroom!
I totally agree that those who want to be heads should be able to do so and should be supported. GBs should be aware of unconscious bias. But I also feel that governors should be given credit for appointing these 65% female heads. We never hear about the majority of governors who have not discriminated against women. All we hear is that governors can be biased. Yes, some may be, in the same way as female primary heads may be biased against male primary teachers.
My other problem is how male heads will feel knowing that we think some of them don’t deserve to be heads and have taken up a post which rightfully belonged to a woman. Being a head is hard enough without us saying to men that they didn’t deserve that post.
The way I see it everyone who wants to be a head should be supported to become one. Innovative solutions should be looked at like job shares to facilate parents (fathers as well as mothers). Governors should be aware that they may have unconscious bias because everyone has it; it’s how you deal with it that’s important. It should not be assumed that all governors discriminate against women because the vast majority of us don’t. If it’s the impostor syndrome stopping women then that needs looking at too. Men should be encouraged to go into teaching, primary as well as secondary. Teaching itself should be considered to be a job worth doing and if some people decide to stay in the classroom rather than cross the corridor and sit on the head’s chair then they should be supported too and not made to feel that the pinnacle of teaching is headship and if they don’t get there there is something wrong.
Kate Chhatwal said, “Every child deserves to benefit from the skills that an exceptional headteacher brings to a school”. I so agree with this! Thing is, that’s what the vast, vast majority of governors try to ensure. People don’t go into teaching for the money. We governors certainly don’t join GBs for the pounds! We are there to ensure children get the best education we can give them and this includes appointing the best heads.