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A tale of two glass ceilings: how can we shatter them?

Is there a glass ceiling in schools? Research suggests so. Here, two female heads from neighbouring state and independent schools compare their experiences

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Sarah Thomas

Headteacher of Bryanston School in Dorset

Some 30 years ago, as a “top public school” welcomed its first cohort of young female teachers, a remark was overheard: “I see the decorations have arrived”. It wasn’t the pupils talking. This was acceptable in the 1980s for a certain type of male teacher – a breed, hopefully, which is now long-extinct.

Twenty-five years ago, I was appointed Housemistress of a girls’ boarding house, which had been memorably run by a very charismatic man and his wonderful wife. Many colleagues were unconvinced that a woman was up to the job. My line ...

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