Women facing class battle to reach the top in teaching

SUFFOLK: More must be done to redress the disproportionately low numbers of female headteachers in Suffolk schools, a leading teaching union claimed today.

New figures from the county council, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, reveal that there were many more male headteachers in high schools in the county between 2006 and 2009.

Although in high schools, women teachers outnumber men in Suffolk by nearly two to one, there are nearly twice as many male headteachers as there are female heads.

In primary schools female teachers outnumber their male colleagues by nearly nine to one – but among heads there are only twice as many women as men.

Chris Lines, national president of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), today said the statistics were a reflection of sexual discrimination. “There are a number of reasons why we have fewer female headteachers, but sadly although technically there shouldn’t be a glass ceiling effect – there is in many instances,” he said.

“I would argue that to be head, a woman has to go to the top in two careers.

“In the sense that she has to reach the top and then will possibly take a career break to start a family, on returning she then has to reach the top once again. Woman remain unrepresented in the highest levels of education.

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“Even in these modern days, discrimination still stands and sexism is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Mr Lines said he believed the number of female headteachers should reflect the number of female teachers, claiming it would be “logical” to have at least 60 per cent female heads in Suffolk.

There has been no significant change in the numbers between 2006 and 2009. However the region appears to be bucking the national trend in which there has been a sudden increase in the appointment of female headteachers.

The figures come just days after it was revealed that the highest-paid headteacher in Suffolk is a woman – Sue Hargadon of Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge, who earned nearly �120,000.

County councillor with responsibility for children Graham Newman said: “There is no bias against ladies becoming heads of secondary or middle schools, as indeed there is no bias against gentlemen becoming heads of primary schools.

“Headteachers are selected on the basis of their aptitude, and appointed to posts where they have been able to demonstrate that they can deliver the required educational outcomes for young people.

“In Suffolk we are proud that the vast majority of our headteachers are excellent leaders and managers, whether they be male or female.”

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