Recently (and rightly) there has been a lot of discussion, especially on social media, about the lack of enough female leaders and about lack of enough BAME leaders. Numbers are quoted but I’m never sure if the numbers tell the whole story or if they actually do tell a story. If X% of classroom teachers are female does it necessarily follow that X% of head should be female? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying there isn’t a problem. What I am saying is that looking and comparing these two figures may not tell us if there is a problem. What if there are Y% of heads who are female and X-Y are the number of female teachers who do not want to proceed up the leadership pole? I am not saying that’s the case because I have no way of knowing and that’s the problem! We need robust research into this (and not anecdotes) then maybe we’ll come to some conclusions and then we can find solutions if the research shows there’s a problem.
The other thing which gets a lot of reaction on social media is “appointing the best person for the job”. Sometimes the reaction I see is one along the lines of
- You mean you couldn’t find a X (insert a characteristic) person to appoint?
- Are you saying no X person was better?
- You SAY you’re colour blind but…
I’m speaking for myself as I write this. I have had all of the above said to me at some point or the other. The fact is that
- I can only look at the applications which come in
- I do judge them on merit
- I can’t say if a person better than the one appointed isn’t out there but I can only appoint if they apply
- Yes, the information which goes out will show that being inclusive is important to me
And why can I say the above? Because I can look myself in the mirror, I can sleep at night knowing I’ve done the best for the children and because I have a strong moral purpose which tells me that I need to do the best I can for the children. I will not appoint someone less able than the other candidate in order to tick a box. My moral compass is always pointing towards my moral purpose and that’s the direction I travel towards when making these decisions. Again, to reiterate, I am talking about myself. I don’t doubt that there are others who are also driven by strong morals. I’m also not making a judgement on your moral purpose if you don’t think the way I do. All I’m saying is if you see/read someone saying they appoint the best candidate/ask the best available person to sit on a panel/are colour blind then just do them the honour of believing them and don’t pass judgement on them or put them down by making a patronising remark.
People talk a lot about needing to give children role models. Well, it’s time we put our money where our mouth is and become a role model on how to react when we hear any of the above.