“From Little Acorns Do Mighty Oaks Grow” A 2019 blog for #WomenEd #WomenEDTech

One of my mother’s favourite proverbs is “From Little Acorns Do Mighty Oaks Grow. ” It reminds us that great things may come from small beginnings, to be patient and persist.

This proverb seems very relevant to the excellent start I’ve had in 2019
My first ever peer reviewed article published in the academic journal IMPACT by the Chartered College of Teaching. You can read the full article here but in essence it is about the joy and success I found when I created and delivered  a project based learning scheme of work around building a mental health and wellbeing app with my students and Gaia Technologies


This project evolved and grew and travelled with me to a second school where we have further refined and customised it with staff and students.  Now we are not ‘just’ working with one class and a team of student wellbeing ambassadors but engaging  over 500 students in the school in creating and  inputting on the content with unique and relevant PSHE themed podcasts as we create a whole new section called My World.

app interface bhcs
In October 2018 I found out The App had been nominated for the NEW Bett Awards category – the Impact Award, We had to highlight the benefit of creating  Brighton Hill Teenmind and the positive difference it was making in our school .
The key was to highlight how the tech was making a difference to learning outcomes and the overall learning experience in our school.

bett winner banner
Blow me down – on Wednesday night we won! We were the only school to win this national award recognising us for our  EdTech achievement.
In a dream like state I went up on the stage with Gaia technologies to accept the award for Brighton Hill Community School from the  Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds .

with damian hinds

Winning this award is a wonderful endorsement that building a culture which emphasises the importance of mental health and wellbeing is not separate to teaching and learning but is at the heart of creating positive and effective learning environments.
This project was able to happen because as a teacher I was allowed to take a risk; be creative; think cross-curricular. Huge thanks to Gaia Technologies for giving the students and I  access to the experts to experiment with the technology. If we are going to create effective learning environments with maximum IMPACT we need to enable our schools access to the Technology via our Tech providers. It can be expensive but if this was subsidised by the Government giving Tech providers incentives to work with schools we can then encourage all  our teachers to explore EdTech platforms and try out different programs with their students.  Another reason why this award means a lot is because I’m part of WomenED_Tech. A  dynamic  group of women who are championing visibility, change and influence of women in Technology and encouraging greater take-up of girls to develop the skills and confidence to take the lead  in what is a traditionally male dominated industry. One of my many dream job titles would be to Lead on EdTech & Innovation and Teaching in schools and Health and Wellbeing. I am not a Techie / IT support person but I get excited about innovative  EdTech teaching which takes learning on to a whole new level for our students and how Tech can streamline the way we work in schools and support our students.

Another acorn to oaks story happening in 2019 is in May I will see the publication of my book The Mental Health and Wellbeing Handbook for Schools: Transforming Mental Health Support On A Budget
This book is the accumulation of  the last 3 years of hard work with my great colleague Chris Edwards as I researched, explored and listened to experts  building a vital role in the school as the Head of whole school Mental Health and wellbeing. I’m donating 50% of my royalties to the mental health charity Charlie Waller Memorial Trust as I feel strongly that we should not be making a profit out of Children’s mental health. I wrote the book to help children and teachers and I think CWMT is doing some fantastic support work plugging a vital gap in schools.  The Government must improve Mental health provision for our children as a matter of urgency and the DFE policy makers  need to review the way we are educating and assessing our young people.

book cover

I hope 2019 continues to be the year of me seeing the fruits of my labor. It would be  good.  I hope it also opens career doors and I’m invited to lead on exciting projects.

Thank you WomenED and WomenED_Tech for encouraging me to be 10% braver and for sticking to my values. Here is to nurturing more acorns this year championing the motto  Visibility. Influence , Change  for women in leadership positions and encouraging more girls into Tech




World Mental Health Day: This time, I’m not here to make a case but to celebrate…..

It was September 2015, first day back INSET day, I was given the stage to explain to our staff WHY there was a need for my new role – to be Head of student mental health and wellbeing.

In 2015, this role hardly existed in schools and as you can imagine, the room was filled with pockets of staunch teacher scepticism.
But that morning, I was driven by my WHY

Why the need?

As I faced my colleagues to make a case, I held the faces of many students in my mind.
Those young people, over the years, who’d hung around my classroom door wanting to chat to me….some had sexual orientation challenges, others anxiety issues, a few were early stages of self-harming, some being bullied, others considerably lonely but I , like so many other teachers, had very limited time to listen to them and in those days, feeling helpless – the norm was to refer these children to an overburdened and understaffed SEN – when I knew and they knew – their struggle was not about learning needs.
Their struggle was Mental Health.
Our school was rapidly becoming a typical example of the mental health crisis being cited in Department of Education papers:

One in ten children and young people (5-16) have clinically diagnosed mental health disorders and approximately one in seven has less severe problems (cited in Department of Education: Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, June 2014).

Two years later…
I have a new stage.
This time, I’m not here to make a case, but to celebrate!
To celebrate the infinite possibilities that exist for teachers and tens of thousands of students…..
To celebrate that it is possible – for every school to develop a robust proactive and pre-emptive mental health support program

Here is a quick overview of some of the measures we rolled out at The Magna Carta School in Staines-upon-Thames.

When it comes to rolling out your mental health and wellbeing  initiatives think 6-pronged approach:  Research; whole school values; physical resources; staff training and wellbeing; peer mentoring; parent and community engagement; PSHE and cross-curriculum resources.

Do your research.  School based research is vital. Every community is different as will their needs be. Conduct student and staff focus groups and surveys into the mental health and wellbeing barometer of your school. Don’t be afraid to hear the truth. The data will drive your initiatives and ensure you have grass roots ownership with all the changes.

Change the language of learning to ensure our mental health is seen as important as achieving good grades.
Destigmatize the topic ‘mental health.’  Our school wall murals, designed by artist Matt Lambert, publicly start the conversation about our mental health. They are given as much importance as our Growth Mind-set murals found elsewhere round the school

wb zone wall

Start at the top. Staff wellbeing is vital. Make sure you run a parallel program looking at staff wellbeing and run a ‘You said We did’ respons within the term of conducting your  survey. Make a concerted effort for leadership to model good working practice and life/work balance.

Re-evaluate the values you champion as a school. In the lead up to Christmas we roll out our #familyMH5aday campaign with years 7 and 8 and  champion the G.R.E.A.T values. These values encourage us to make small life style changes in the direction of life/work balance, bigger picture and positive mental health.
family mh5 a day 2

I was delighted to see one teacher encourage students to use this language when talking about exam preparation and devising their revision schedules. Placing emphasis on their wellbeing is vital to ensuring academic progress.

Separate Mental Health support from SEN support. Although sometimes they are inextricably linked; the interventions required are very different. Young people are more likely to self-refer or accept support for mental health if they feel that we recognize the difference between mental health and learning needs


Based on our research we knew we had to create spaces to ensure the young people knew where to go; when to go and who they could expect to speak to –  hence the wellbeing zone.  You don’t need to build new rooms you simply map your wellbeing zone with curriculum spaces. For example, by lesson time the rooms are Humanities and ICT but at lunchtimes the corridor comes alive as the wellbeing zone.

You don’t need to hire new staff – look at strengths within your own staff .  Our role as schools is not to diagnose  but instead to ensure we are proactive and pre-emptive. To make a start, You do not ‘have to have’ an in-house counselor or trained therapist. Yes, of course it would be ideal to have this professional resource and support in every school but realistically speaking, with budget cuts, this is just not possible at the moment.
What you do need are empathetic, caring compassionate peers and teachers who are properly trained in being able to spot the signs; have a conversation with the student and a robust internal referral and tracking system for intervention work. This is achievable.
Assign a senior member of staff to lead and a governing body member to have it as part of their portfolio. Free up 1 member of staff who is a non-teacher and not a TA to be your youth mental health student co-coordinator. Look at the extra curricular strengths and interests found in your staff body and tap into their expertise. One of our English teachers –  is also a qualified yoga teacher . As part of our intervention and support  she is timetabled to deliver hatha yoga and mindfulness as a weekly intervention for students suffering from increasing anxiety and panic attacks. She also offers a weekly yoga class for our staff to support their wellbeing.



Train your students and staff properly. We used RELATE the charity to train our wellbeing student ambassadors and The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust offer superb resources for staff training. We are also looking forward to our Mental Health First Aid training coming up in a few weeks.

wellbeing ambassadors

Think out the box with your interventions.  We have in place opportunities for 1:1 and group work but sometimes – for numerous reasons-  the young person does not want to sit and talk. Finding time for intervention work during the school day is also difficult.

In response to this we have rolled out extra-curricular intervention support which may last a few weeks or a few days:

The Love Bread challenge: Students learnt all about the science of making their own bread and then they got to bake their own pizzas, focaccias and take a ‘mother’ sourdough starter home to feed and nurture.

The Chef’s Challenge: Students cooked a different 2 course meal each week, set up by chef Mark Lloyd, and then sat down to eat & chat celebrating each other’s efforts in cooking their evening dinner.
The Bicycle Challenge: Old bicycles have been donated and under the guidance of 2 enthusiastic bike engineer teachers, from the DT department, they are being taught how to remove worn bits and re-assemble with new parts so they can cycle away with it.

The Bush craft Challenge: Students got to explore Survival Bush craft skills: fire lighting, tracking, shelter building, Nature art, campfire cooking, outdoor trust games, 1 to1 sessions, personal development exercises and Mindfulness in nature

What was essential was:
The Staff used were ready to move out of their teaching roles and get on a level playing field with the young person and complete a creative task with them, engaging in discussions and listening with compassion and empathy.  Students feel deeply appreciative when they are simply understood – not evaluated, not judged, simply understood from their own point of view, not the teacher’s.

Track your interventions measuring impact. We have trialled out various systems including a software called Provision mapping so our SEN, Behavioural and Mental health interventions can all be tracked in one place ensuring we effectively triage before an intervention is rolled out; we don’t double up; are all joined up and get an overall picture of a student’s progress.

Engage your parents and local community. We have a parent wellbeing ambassadors network group who have advised on how we could conduct the #familyMH5aday campaign mentioned earlier and, together with a local charity East To West, hosted half termly  ‘parent headspace’ chat sessions.

Use your PSHE lessons to effectively deliver mental health awareness lessons and to teach positive mental health strategies. We are in our first year of  rolling out MINDUP which is a 15-week mindfulness and resilience program being delivered in PSHE to over 200 year 8 students.

Think cross-curricular and embrace the theme through your subjects. We got a class of mixed ability year 9 media students to build their own mental health and wellbeing app called My TeenMind. They built it with the  help of Gaia tech and the support of local charity Woking Mind. This app is now part of a 7 lesson PSHE scheme of work where the students are presented with  fictitious scenarios about a peer and they have to explore and  use the app to find the right  information to help signpost support.


Finally, there is no quick fix. Don’t think a 1 day or 6 -week intervention will ‘sort’ the problem out.

The key to a school based mental health program is about ensuring our staff and our young people are literate about their mental and emotional health; that they take ownership of it; that there is no shame in talking about it; and that there are spaces and people who are trained and have time to listen enabling us to make informed choices when we are faced with the inevitable struggles that life will throw at us.

Blog written to mark  2017 World Mental Health Day.

The virtue of Resilience #bethechange #leadership #womenED

The months of September and October have been, on a personal level, the most challenging months I have had to face in a long time. My husband, children and whole extended family set up has been rocked to the core.

The details are too personal to share online but I have been ricocheting from one crisis to the next. It has been costly on my own personal wellbeing and impacted on my ability to respond to the myriad of deadlines in my leadership role in my school.

One thing I’ve learnt about being an effective leader in a school is to allow myself to show my vulnerabilities to colleagues and for people to see my humanness. As a result, I found an incredible network of support of people offering me flexibility at work, texting me, DMing me, sending me flowers and gifts all letting me know they were here to support.

2 years ago, I committed to #Bethechange by being authentic; owning my values and to be defined by my soul not my role. This has paid off time and time again.

1 year ago, I committed to #Bethechange by supporting great education movements and their leaders who champion values which MUST become central to our future education landscape. #WomenEd; #DiversityED; #BameED; #LgbtEDuk; #DisabilityED. The values that I wake up and am prepared to go to work for. The values that define me. Seeing @educationgovUK reference these in a latest statement gives me hope that the DFE are listening.

During these hurricane months my complimentary copy written by my wellbeing #heforshe hero, James Hilton, arrived through the post and the title was perfect for what I was going through:  Ten Traits of Resilience: Achieving positivity and purpose in school leadership.

In the first chapter I read :

Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. No-one escapes pain, fear and suffering. Yet, from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength – if we have the virtue of resilience (Eric Greitens, 2015)

Instead of me falling into the trap of feeling like a victim and helpless I hung on to these words in the belief that wisdom and courage and strength would prevail out of these hardships.

So, my #Bethechange #leadership #womenED blog this year is about the wisdom I have gained; the courage I will have to face something difficult this year and the strength to believe I will get through this.

  1. To be less reactive to a crisis and more proactive. To ask myself what I could have done to pre-empt this. To be curious. To carry on learning. To explore options and be reflective; be prepared to change something about me and my situation if I need to.
  2. To have the courage to tackle male mental health in schools and the workplace and to do what I can to highlight this topic. Lives are being lost because too often men feel they can’t open up and talk about their mental health. Children are losing their fathers; mothers are losing their sons. I have now consolidated arrangements with my headteacher, Chris Edwards @chrisedwardsuk, for our school to host its first mental health & wellbeing teachmeet on the 27th June 2019 with the focus being Male Mental Health: Time to talk where the following incredible keynote speakers will be presenting: Mike Armiger @MikeArmiger, Pran Patel @PatelAwesome and Ross McGIll @RossMcGill & @TeacherToolkit,
  3. To have the strength to carry on,  knowing I have a really supportive school,  @womenED and #HeforShe community behind me, supporting me as I straddle challenging times as a mother, wife, sister and aunt and that being a resilient leader means I need to first practice self-compassion and self-care. In the words of James Hilton:

Remember nothing lasts forever and neither will your current problems – our difficulties do have an expiry date. The sun will come out again, sooner or later. Remember that.

image from: After the storm,the sun comes https://i.ytimg.com/vi/zYwSyyEVezs/maxresdefault.jpg

‘Mottos only matter if you live by them rather than fill your house to make it look nice’ (guest blog by @heley007)

“Morning ladies- not sure if you have seen my call to women in education for a blog on #pledgeforchange… not sure if you are interested in taking part” (@cerasmusteach) such an empowering and exciting statement which instantly provoked a mixture of thoughts, ideas and feelings within me (not bad for a dreary Tuesday morning before any coffee had been consumed).
Initially, I thought ‘Wow! Brilliant! Count me in’ which was quickly followed by ‘ I’ve always wanted to write in an open forum or follow that dream of being an author- maybe this could be my springboard?’ Then the ‘Girl power’ side of me came out and I thought, ‘join these inspirational and empowering women in a pledge for change in Education and stand together in unity to promote the amazing work we do… where do I sign up?’
However, once I had dug out my ‘90s Ginger Spice union Jack dress and was just getting ready to do some high kicks in a Sporty Spice style, that annoying voice came slithering into my head, you know the one which we all have and seeks to undermine us and makes us want to hideaway forever.

‘You can’t blog. Why would anyone be interested in what you have to say?’
‘How can you make a pledge for change when you can’t even decide where to eat for dinner or have a coffee with your friends if you are asked let alone make a decision about what you want to change in the new academic year!’
‘You always talk the talk but let’s face it, you never walk the walk’
‘You know that you are a fraud as an English teacher and therefore cannot write at all… so let’s stop all this nonsense, grab a bar of chocolate and hide under a blanket until this all blows over.’

AHH- don’t you just hate that voice? And isn’t it amazing that it seems to overshadow our positive voice? Not very ‘Growth Mindset’ is it?

That’s when it hit me; I was a fraud, not as an English teacher, but a fraud more to myself. I spend 95% of my time and energy telling those around me not to give up, that they can achieve anything they want and, most importantly, I bang the drum for ‘Growth Mindset’. This is not only in my role as a teacher and SENCo, but also with my family. I have two gorgeous nephews and I am constantly telling them they can be whatever they want to be as long as they put in the practice, never give up and believe they can achieve. I even read the fantastically written ‘You are Awesome’ by Matthew Syed which encourages children to focus exactly on that- never giving up, believing in themselves and being more ‘Growth Mindset.’
So, how could I look my nephews, my family, my friends and students in the eyes and tell them to embrace ‘Growth Mindset’ if at the first opportunity I have to try something new or start that step towards a dream, I reach for a blanket, grab a bar of chocolate and hide away?

life starts

My hypocrisy stared at me in my face…literally. I have a cushion on my bed with the motto ‘Life starts at the end of your comfort zone’ and there it was on the floor, discarded from the night before after I had thrown it off the bed, staring up at me and questioning where my drive had gone.
I had bought the pillow 18 months early when I started to separate from my Ex- Husband and wanted to take back control of my life. And boy, had I…
I had started to make changes around the house to make my own mark, I joined the gym, went swimming, saw family more and slowly changed and adapted to a new way of living. I even had stepped out of my comfort zone and had joined an amateur dramatic group to get out there and meet new people.
Now on this dreary Tuesday morning, I realised that I had not stepped out of my comfort Zone for such a long time that I felt I had become stagnant and the world was passing me by.
Thus the final realisation came to me, where had my confidence gone?
To my colleagues and friends this might come as a surprise, but actually I am not a very confident person at all. Sure I can be loud, the life and soul of a party and there for a laugh when needed, but when it comes to being a teacher, SENCo or Middle Leader my confidence levels are rock bottom.
I began to wonder, how many women out there had put in the groundwork into a new project or idea before passing this on to someone else to add a finishing touch to and watched, amazed, as they took all the recognition and praise for their efforts because they did not have the confidence to speak up and ‘own’ the work they had done?
There have been a few occasions over my career where I have had an idea that I wanted to run with but never had the guts to speak out about it. I have metaphorically kicked myself when that same idea has been floated by someone else and has caused for positive change to take place.
How was this being a confident woman of the 21st Century or even encouraging an ethos of change for women in education if I was blending into the background and not telling people about the things I had achieved?

little fierce 2

‘And though she be but little she is fierce’ this was recently referenced by @vickmerc in her blog #pledgeforchange and my initial thought was ‘Oh this is my motto and I can’t use that now as people will think I am copying her’ (I have an abridged version in my light box and the quote is my ‘cover photo’ on Facebook and not just because I think it looks ‘nice’!) Then I reminded myself that I am not a teenager and that this is something I have surrounded myself with in my house in order to give me the confidence and courage to push myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself for change. If this also brings some courage and confidence to a close colleague and friend, than lets be little and fierce together and start making changes for women in education!
Fellow women in education, indeed in all industries, here are my pledges for change and my promise that I will no longer have mottos in my house because they look nice.
1) Challenge: this relates not only to me continuing to challenge my students’ fixed mindsets in becoming more growth mindset but to challenge myself to become more growth mindset and practice what I am preaching.
2) Communication: Share my ideas regardless of whether I think they will be successful or not- essentially ‘Be more pirate’ (another excellent book I read over the summer by Sam Conniff Allende.) If I want change to happen or if I don’t agree with an idea, communicate this and come up with a solution or new way of working.
3) Confidence: have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone in order to help progress my career and my personal life in order to feel that I am contributing and in control of what is happening around me, that my ideas are not worthless and that I am not simply observing changes but actively driving them.
4) Collaboration: work with the other fabulous women in school to develop and shape cultural change in education and to provide that safe space where we can share ideas and how we are feeling without fear of judgement.

A guest blog by Helen Heath for #womened #pledgeforchange #DGMeetweek

I am not lost (by @vickmerc)

(This is a Guest Blog for  debut blogger Victoria Mercer @vickmerc for the #WomenEd #Pledgeforchange #DGMeetweek)

In my career, I have faced the challenge of being young in the world of teaching. I first stepped into my school at age 21 and remember a senior member of staff telling me they were worried that I’d “get lost” in the classroom; firstly because I’m short and secondly because I was so young.

I didn’t let that stop me.

I’ve never worn heels in the classroom and I often teach Year 10 & 11 students who are over 6ft tall and tower above me.

4 years down the line, I am not lost.


I am now going into my second year as Head of Year and have embraced the challenge of pastoral leadership. It comes with difficulties and everyday I face something new and unfamiliar. It is by no means an easy job.

I sometimes have parents look at me like I’m too young, or meet a parent after weeks of speaking on the phone and they comment on how young I am. I have a baby face and sometimes I do feel like I’m playing the part of a teacher – rather than actually being one. But I’m doing alright for myself and more importantly, I love it.

In October last year, 4 weeks into the new role, I cried my eyes out after a phone call with a parent who shouted at me. I shut my office door and sobbed to my colleague. I couldn’t do this, how could I have people be so rude to me and be okay with it? But that was the first step to learning.

A few weeks before we finished for summer, I had a similar phone call with a different parent and came off the phone feeling as tall as my gangly Year 11 boys. I’d stayed calm, I’d talked her down from her anger, and more than that, we ended the call on a positive. For every difficult parent and every uncomfortable conversation, I have to remember that there are twice as many people rooting for me, proud of what I’m doing and encouraging me to grow (metaphorically, of course.)

So at 25 years old, 5ft 1 (at a push) and 4 years into teaching, I genuinely believe that I have the best job in the world. A student messaged me on results’ day this year and thanked me for believing in her, when she didn’t believe in herself.

I look at the students I teach, particularly shy and anxious girls, and it makes me believe that my #pledgeforchange is to encourage all students that they can take the brave leap into the world of being an adult, and I hope that they too feel like they can find themselves; no one wants to get lost.



Halfway. Bring it on.


I started teaching in 1993. I took about 5 years out to travel, explore other professions and have 2 children leaving about 20 years actively in the classroom. I’ve been told by the Government that my retirement age is 68. I’m 48. That leaves ANOTHER 20 years of teaching. Crikey. That means I’m now halfway.


Only halfway? I ask incredulously.

Working 5 days as a teacher is full on.
I hear some of my colleagues cashing in at 55 and saying, “enough!” securing another life after teaching.
Others opting out because ……
Teaching is a tough gig.
It does not feel as if it’s getting any easier either – as I go up through the ranks it’s definitely tougher. Not just the workload expectations of having to back up evidence for everything; chase paperwork; be a fortune teller and predict impossible grades in a constant changing education landscape but also a magician and work wonders with a decreasing budget!


So, what are my options?

opt out?

Hell no. it’s going to be a case of opt more in.

If this incredible profession is going to get the best part of my lifetime then I will make sure that it’s worth it, that I am an active part of it and can help shift the status quo striving to campaign,  raise awareness and implement the values that are important to me.

So, my #pledgeforchange for #womened #dgmeetweek

1. It’s about balance & I will speak up. Balance for teacher wellbeing but also balance in the curriculum. It is not raising standards and academic grades at the expense of mental wellbeing.
2. To support the leaders behind great movements and values I champion. I search high and low to work with great leaders who I share the same values with – which is why I am at my current school – BrightonHill Community school  working with Chris Edwards. We often are so busy looking at what an organisation can do for us we forget to think about what we can do for those who we admire and are leading. It’s my pledge to keep supporting courageous leaders and to help champion the shared mission. I aim to actively support leadership voices I admire in #WomenED, #DisabilityED, #DiversityED , #BameEd ensuring change towards a more equitable & inclusive education system and society.
3. Make the most of coaching and mentoring – I have been offered wonderful support from two GREAT #womenED supporters and educators both who have journeyed as outstanding Headteachers – Sue Webb and Alison Kriel –  and I intend to make the most of their leadership expertise and their powerful mantra about values and authenticity.
4. Prepare myself physically and mentally for the long haul in this profession I’m on a mission to shift a few pounds and have had a great 5-week holiday focusing on this and will continue to focus daily on my breathing and mental self through mindfulness.
5. To keep learning things which have nothing to do with my occupation. Behind every attempt to try something new I learn something more about myself and life.

An anecdote:

Recently I challenged myself to complete a 2 day windsurfing course. Last time I embraced water sports was 25 years ago, so this was out of my comfort zone
What I loved about Windsurfing is that it  demanded ALL of my attention – everything else I was  thinking about  just slipped out of my mind. At the end of the day – when I came back to it – I seemed clearer about what I had to do.
What have I taken away for my lessons in LIFE?
• Balance is key. Don’t work against the forces but rather harness the energy of the forces to move you forward in the direction you want to move in.
• Live in the moment and concentrate on what is at hand.
• Listen to your body and respond ensuring there is no unnecessary strain or pain.
• Carpe diem- seize the day and savour the feeling of Joy when it all comes together and you get it right.

Finally – If you don’t fall off the board anymore you have stopped learning. Once you have mastered something ditch the routine and try something new on the board.

If I can keep learning, not fearing the fact that I will fail – I will have the right attitude to the multitude of challenges I have yet to face.



Me,  hanging in there and loving it 🙂

IN 2018/19 WHAT WILL BE YOUR PLEDGE FOR CHANGE? #womened #pledgeforchange #DGMeetweek

pledger for change

Nearing the end of the academic term I’m feeling a mixture of hope and frustrations


Hope because there are increasingly more leaders in education who are embracing the concept of staff and student mental wellbeing as being intrinsic to what we teach, how we teach and what we value as central to having a positive culture and education environment.
Hope because the organisation #WomenEd, which aims to Connect existing and aspiring women leaders in global education, has grown in numbers and countries in tackling gender equality; gender pay gap; gender and diversity representation in leadership; flexible working conditions and is empowering women to be 10% braver.
Hope because thanks to The DfE coaching pledge, inviting all current leaders to make a voluntary pledge to coach aspiring female leaders, I have been offered coaching sessions supporting me in my leadership role, through leadership development opportunities & sharing of great practice.


Frustrated because of the lack of Diversity on our school leadership boards . Great Britain is not an all white, all male society: Why am I predominantly seeing this on many of our school leadership boards? What message is this sending out to our young people and to our fellow colleagues?

Frustrated because some of my colleagues, around the country, are still micromanaged- their authentic styles and spirits muted due to a desire for control and cosmetic uniformity and the culture still exists that you should sacrifice your family by working at weekends and late on week nights meeting impossible deadlines and expectations.

Frustrated because I recently had a conversation with a senior female leader and we were discussing her leadership journey. Part of her reply was this: I had to work 10 x harder to be recognised. I had to be 10x better than the men to be legitimatised for the appointment.
This left me deflated as I felt this was still intrinsic to female leadership opportunities in the workplace

During the summer holidays I hope to spend a lot of time reading, swimming, cycling, camping and relaxing with friends and family. This period is a vital window for me as a teacher – allowing me to completely unwind and focus on my wellbeing, my relationships, my family.

But as August ends I will start to feel that familiar tightness in my stomach as I acknowledge the infinite list of things I must get through in the first academic term; The juggling act of work-parenting -being in a relationship; The difficulty of striving for balance so my own mental wellbeing is carefully monitored; feeling passionate and driven enough to do ‘another year’ because I feel like what I’m doing matters – has value – makes me feel valued.
I will also find myself dealing with the familiar self-doubts creeping in; questioning my career journey – the possibilities that might happen – and those deep frustrations echoed earlier with the status quo and the nation’s education system. I don’t want to have these same frustrations next year.

The conditions surrounding my working life cannot be on ’Repeat.’

It is important I harness these thoughts and frustrations and channel the energy into bringing about positive change.

To do this, I’m calling on the tribe #WomenEd to join me in writing a blog where we announce our Pledge for Change.


WHEN: Post a blog, anytime in the last week of August from Friday 24th August till Friday 31st August
WHERE: Post your blogs on social media platforms (Facebook or/and Twitter)

HOW: Use all three hashtags when posting #womened #pledgeforchange #DGMeetweek

WHO: Anyone who supports the #WomenEd values including #HeforShe supporters. You don’t need to let us know you will post a blog  – simply post a blog sometime in that week. 
OBJECTIVE: In the spirit of the WomenEd 8 x C values – To communicate and be heard; to find solidarity though our global connection ; To build relationships, collaborate and be forward and outward looking ; to challenge our thinking and the organisations in which we work; to read each other’s pledges and remind ourselves we are not alone but we are a powerful community ready and committed to supporting each other; to believe in ourselves and be 10% braver with our pledges, taking ourselves out of our comfort zone, and building confidence; to blog with clarity about the changes we want to see and what we will do to enable that change.

I hope the thousands of followers will join me in being 10% braver and reflect and pledge on how we can harness our thoughts/frustrations/energies into bringing about positive change for gender stereotyping in education; young girls still denied an education; female representation in education; gender pay gap; mothers working in education and our own career paths in education as we smash those glass ceilings. Always being driven by our values and desire for an inclusive culture that promotes equal opportunity in every aspect of education.


#stillmarching #100years


I’m still marching so that ONE DAY ……..

…no woman feels she has to cower in fear whilst a man physically, mentally and emotionally abuses her and their children and she remains silenced by his voice and force.

…..Domestic, rape and sexual abuse  is tackled through changing culture in our society  and not have to be tackled through law courts

….all women have the ‘Right to choose’ and backstreet abortions by desperate women and subsequent fatalities are prevented

….all institutions, in every workplace, ensure they are paying more than lip service to the principles of equality and diversity and are held to account to  create pathways inspiring all to lead; ensuring fair representation and leadership for all minority groups.

……. the school curriculum, in every school, delivers robust lessons every year, which raise the profile and empower young women to be part of the change and engendered bias is recognised

….. a woman’s hormonal cycle…her period and menopause is not ridiculed, mocked, ignored and in some cultures seen as shameful

…….my daughter’s ‘big dreams’ will be reached and that she embraces her inner power to lead, change and empower and thinks beyond the stereotypical roles limiting young girls in our society

…. All young men are given great #Heforshe role models and my son will grow up to be one of them

I’m still marching……