A female-only headship qualification has been launched with the goal of tackling the “chronic underrepresentation” of women at headteacher level.
The programme, which the organisers say is the first of its kind in the country, is aimed at supporting women who feel excluded by local headteacher meetings that “feel like boys' clubs”.
The national professional qualification for headship (NPQH) has been developed by the Leading Women’s Alliance, WomenEd and Ambition School Leadership. The deadline for applications is 28 January and the first cohort begins training in March.
'Affirmative action for more female headteachers'
Kate Chhatwal, co-founder of the Leading Women’s Alliance and executive director of Southwark Teaching School Alliance, said the organisers “jumped at the chance” of providing a women-only course when the Department for Education invited providers to propose programmes tailored to particular groups.
“The need for affirmative action is evident in the chronic underrepresentation of women in headship when compared to the teaching population as a whole,” Dr Chhatwal said.
According to 2016 workforce data, just 39 per cent of secondary school heads are women, compared with 63 per cent of teachers. The figures have not changed dramatically since the first census in 2010, when 37 per cent of heads were women and 61 per cent of teachers.
The new NPQH will cover the same material as the Ambition School Leadership headship programme. However, Dr Chhatwal said it would "be led and undertaken by the diverse female role models aspiring women leaders consistently tell us they need, with emphasis shifted to focus on those issues that matter most to the women in the room”.
She added: “Aspiring female heads want a space where they can explore how to build and leverage networks in the many areas of the country where headteacher meetings feel like boys’ clubs.
“And they want to see and hear from leaders whose values and practices more closely resemble their own.”