Drilling through concrete ceilings

Schools Week Venue 4


Women Ed Strand


Being an ethnic minority woman increases the barriers women leaders face. With regards to secondary education we know that only round about 38% of heads are female compared to over 70% of the teaching workforce overall. However, when we look at ethnicity we can see that the situation is even more dire. DfE statistical release figures (June 2016) show that only 3.7% of secondary heads come from Black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds compared to 3.2% in primary and 3.1% in special schools. Meanwhile, due to the slow pace of change at the top, the gap between the diversity of our pupil population and our leadership in secondary education is rapidly widening. Over time the proportion of pupils from BME backgrounds has been steadily increasing. DfE data for 2016 shows that in primary schools, 31.4% of pupils are of BME backgrounds which was an increase from 30.4% in January 2015. In secondary schools, 27.9% of pupils are of minority ethnic origins, an increase from 26.6% in 2015. It is evident that unless concerted action is taken to close this widening gap the situation will continue to worsen.

This session will focus on research undertaken by Sameena with support from Leeds Beckett University and Northern Lights Teaching Schools Alliance in which BME female secondary heads and senior leaders share their experiences by outlining the barriers they have faced and more importantly, the enablers that have facilitated their success. It is hoped that this research will provide a blueprint to support more BME women who aspire to school leadership to progress in their careers and lead the way in diversifying the leadership of our schools.