Who got that job?

4th September 2009 at 01:00
Ever wondered who got a job you saw advertised in The TESS? In our occasional series, can a woman still be called a rector?

Through her appointment as rector of Kelvinside Academy, Lesley Douglas has made a little bit of history. Not only is she the first woman to be head of the Glasgow independent school, but she is also the first woman to be appointed head of any HMC - Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference - school in Scotland (the first appointment of a woman as head of an HMC school in England happened in 1992).

The term rector is traditionally applied to men - so the question arose whether Mrs Douglas should be referred to as "rectress" or even "rectrex". Joking aside, she decided that the title went with the post, not the person holding it, so rector she remains.

At 52, the latter part of her career has been spent in the independent sector in what must have seemed like a yo-yo existence between both ends of the M8. She joins Kelvinside Academy from Mary Erskine's School in Edinburgh where she was depute head; previously, she was assistant rector at the High School of Glasgow; and before that, an assistant principal teacher of maths at Stewart's Melville College in Edinburgh.

Originally from Monifieth, Mrs Douglas qualified as a primary and secondary teacher after graduating from Edinburgh University. She then taught maths in local authority secondaries in Edinburgh and the Borders, her first post at Broughton High in Edinburgh.

Will having a female head make much difference to the pupils at Kelvinside, an all-through school with a roll of around 620?

"I think it makes a difference to some boys, just as to some girls. Some children are more gender-aware than others," she says.

Many of the boys and girls have told her it's "fantastic" having a female head, although she's not sure what they have in mind.

Having worked in the state and independent sectors, she says she appreciates the independence granted to teachers and managers in the latter. "There is a greater degree of autonomy which enables us to put in place the very best resources, curriculum and teaching. I know from experience in the maintained sector that decision-making was taken out of the schools' hands so that they were not able to make their own decisions. There's more delegation now, but it's very much in the interests of our boys and girls that what we do is the best for them."

As local authority schools tackle the implementation of A Curriculum for Excellence with various degrees of trepidation this year, Mrs Douglas feels ACfE is already embedded in Kelvinside's curriculum. "We are putting all the strengths and capacities that are described in ACfE in place, and have been implementing them for a long time."

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