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Carole Anderson says motherhood is no bar to interview success

I remember going for a headship interview while I was still on maternity leave. I got down to the final two, which is an interesting place to be when you have a 14-day-old daughter. Certainly, I was prepared to do some fairly silly things for the right job. I didn't get that one, although I was quite relieved.

This is my first headship. I have been here since September, so I'm new in this role. My children are still very young - four and two.

I've been fortunate. Before I was here, I was deputy head at the Blue school in Wells, Somerset. The culture and style of the school was family-friendly. It was acknowledged that in the end we were in education and if we in education can't be family-friendly, who on earth is going to be? It was used as something to promote, as a strength.

As a deputy there, and now as a female head with a young family, I see myself as a role model, particularly to girls coming through the system. It's making the statement that you can have a career at this level and raise a family no matter how difficult that juggling is.

I work long hours during the week. Then there's that discipline of going home, and it's time for the children. Most heads work a 60 to 70-hour week, and I'm doing that, but a lot of the work goes on at night as well as during the day. But there has to be that time in the evening that's children's time - bathtime, bedtime, storytime. And you click back into professional mode when it's over.

Being a mother with young children hasn't been an obstacle, although I don't know if other women in my position have shared that experience. I've always felt I've been treated fairly. Maybe I've just been interviewed in enlightened places.

One of the things I particularly focus on in my interviews is knowing the person behind the professional facade. And one of the things we have done, particularly at senior level recently, is to have the person talking about the highlights of their life.

For me, that's particularly revealing because the sort of person I'm looking for will be able to tell me the highlight of their professional life and their personal life, and be able to share that and see themselves as a rounded person who has a lot to offer an education institution.

The insight I get from that part of the selection procedure is more important to me than anything else.

Carole Anderson is head of Monmouth comprehensive school, Monmouthshire. Interview by Martin Whittaker

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