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“When Recruiting Our School Governors, Only White Males Applied”

Hannah Wilson’s #BAMEed pledge, and how she plans on building a diverse faculty in her school

Hannah Wilson
by Hannah Wilson

Why am I reflecting on ways my new start-up school can flip the system?

The conversation on diversity in teaching has only just got started and needs to be opened up; we need transparency, and we need to challenge the system. Starting up a new school enables me to do things a bit differently. With core values of #wellbeing, #diversity and #equality I need to ensure that we ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’. I don’t want our values to be tokenistic or ‘laminated not lived’.

So, imagine how disappointed I was then when recruiting my governors that we initially only received applications from white male volunteers.

I am not discrediting their experience or their potential input, but I am keen to model a diverse team at every level of the Aureus staff structure.

These are the challenges and solutions that I expect to face, and for which I am creating strategies (these are still a work in progress):

What are the barriers for BAME teachers?

I am excited that Jess, my coachee, is pitching a PhD to research this, as currently I make judgements and increase my understanding based on anecdotal feedback. Through her research and through the Diverse Leaders programme I am curating I will gain more insight into the barriers – personal and systemic – that are holding BAME educators back.

My pledge is to tweet, blog and speak about my findings to amplify the discussions.

Why do we have so few BAME teachers?

Teaching is not seen as an aspirational profession for some cultures. Schools need to work on their careers guidance to raise the profile of educational careers for all students.

My pledge is to ensure that career guidance at Aureus School crosses some of these cultural barriers.

How can we recruit more BAME leaders?

BAME teachers are in a minority, so the progression of those who do enter the profession represents a small group of teachers and leaders.

My pledge is to ensure that at Aureus School and across the GLF trust that our talent management identifies and nurtures the potential of diverse leaders.

Why do we have a blockage in the BAME leadership pipeline?

BAME teachers seem to leave the system or get caught in the system at middle leadership level. I will continue to research and unpick why this is.

My pledge is to embed unconscious bias training and an equitable talent-spotting system at Aureus.

How can we support and develop BAME leaders on their career progression?

Career planning, development and coaching is something that our profession does not do very well, in my opinion. Through our #womened events and programmes we are addressing this for existing and aspiring women leaders.

My pledge is to volunteer to run practical sessions at #BAMEed events and support those who are writing applications and letters to help them get through the door to interview.

What are my next steps as a systems leader?

As a headteacher and a leader in a MAT/ TSA, as well as co-founder of #womened I will continue to be part of a growing community of educators who are challenging the system.

My first step is the launch of a new blog called ‘Talking Heads’ where I will profile a different headteacher each week – to share different leadership experiences, identities and trajectories – thus breaking down some of the perceptions of headteachers.

Hannah Wilson is Headteacher of Aureus School and Co-Founder of #WomenEd. You can follow her on Twitter at @Miss_Wilsey, on StaffRm or on her headteacher blog, thehopefulheadteacher and Talking Heads blog.

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