As educators, isn’t it time we looked at social value for money?

I write this piece not as an expert, but as an advocate for making this world a better place. This blog is divided into three main parts: personal reflections, a few current examples of action for discussion and finally, the what next question.  I begin with a few milestone reflections that help to position my journey to date.

  • First and foremost, I am a teacher by vocation. However, my personal journey and interest has given me a wider perspective on areas associated with social justice and equity, leadership for change and policy development.
  • Back in 2007, I was privileged to work with The Audit Commission on the SEN/AEN Value for Money (VfM) Toolkit. I remember the first meeting well.  I was the newbie on the block.  As I listened to much more learned individuals deliberate on the problem, but little on the solution, something stirred in me. I popped up the confidence to offer a possible solution already available to leaders in schools.  The civil servant in the room immediately knocked my idea down as ridiculous and so I remained silent for the rest of the meeting.  My idea, focused on a participatory process, which clearly added a social dimension to value for money discussions.  By the next meeting, colleagues at The Audit Commission had undertaken some research and the proposal I had put forward was now the leading paradigm for change.  There was one slight exception.  What I had proposed as a participatory process for the good of the community and by the local community, was now a bureaucratic template file that had to be filled in!   This, plus several other experiences, have always spurned my aversion towards review models that are tick list exercises, especially in the field of special educational needs, inclusion and disability.  If there is no underpinning collaborative theory of change – what’s the point?
  • Introduction of the Social Value Act in 2012 and school funding reforms in 2013 provided the platform for me to co-present national briefings on School Funding & Finance. Simultaneously, co-founding a social enterprise to increase community access for special educational needs and disability resources peaked my interest in looking at alternative models.  This is a work in progress, which is now (post SEND reforms implementation) gaining momentum. I recorded some of my earlier thoughts in a Pioneer Post blog in 2013.  The following academic year, I helped co-organise a panel discussion on ‘Do 21st century school offer social value?’  The contributions were passionate and reflected the true diversity of the panel and audience.
  • Around this time, I also wrote to senior officials responsible for the accountability of schools. My question was simply:  how could existing frameworks embrace the Social Value Act (SVA) 2012?  I received a non-committal response.  The revised Common Inspection Framework (CIF) in 2015, didn’t embrace the SVA.  For other reasons, the model and its subsequent revisions in recent years, is an improvement on previous approaches … but also a missed opportunity to embrace SVA.

So where are we today?

Like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015-2030, the Social Value Act requires everyone to play their part. In effect, it is complicated, as it involves several stakeholders … who all hold different views on what matters and what counts as ‘social value’.  The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 requires public bodies to consider how the services they commission and procure might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area. Commissioners are required to factor social value in at the pre-procurement phase, allowing them to embed social value in the design of the service from the outset.  From a local government perspective, I often cite Croydon local authority as a good example, though there are others on the Gov.uk website. Other case studies from health and social care.

There are multiple ways we can look at this from an education perspective. For example, Dave Boden in the publication Insight (Issue Number 15, April 2018) reflects on demonstrating the impact of personal development of pupils.  Dave Boden is strategic lead at the Grace Academy Trust.  Using a variety of tools and with clarity on the 5Ws and H of measuring impact, Dave argues it is possible to measure impact of the spiritual, moral, social & cultural (SMSC) elements of the curriculum.  I agree!  My Advanced Diploma research thesis in 2002 on the previous National Curriculum and SMSC provides a similar rationale and approach.   Ashoka Changemaker Schools is another great example.  In higher education, many institutions have adopted an approach to considering the social value for students, and of institutions.  However, this isn’t necessarily how impact is currently measured.  This OpEd by Nick Petford might help to clarify a possible vision for the future.  Sir Michael Barber et al (2012 p31) published an Innovation Framework in the essay, “Oceans of Innovation”.  The document is well worth a read.  The key messages chime with a broader perspective of leadership in education and a consideration of wider benefits. For me, leadership has always been about building teams to widen influence and impact.

Innovation Framework

I often hear school leaders talking about the constraints of the current assessment and accountability system.  I find myself often disagreeing.  I do believe there is opportunity for greater autonomy.  However, whether this autonomy is used wisely, nor not, is another matter.  It was encouraging to read in a recent blog by Sean Harford,  about the need for schools/leaders to shift from meaningless data to ‘meaningful assessment of the right things at the right point in the curriculum’.  For sure, there is a debate to be had as to what constitutes ‘meaningful’.  In my mind, I would categorise the social value of learning as meaningful.  Mary Rayner HMI (2016) also clearly stipulated the need for us educators and leaders to ‘measure what we value, not value what we measure’.  What is it you value?  What is it your local community (including pupils, parents and families) value and how do you know?  This brings me, full circle back to the ‘participatory process’ I shared with the Audit Commission back in 2007.  Many settings (cross phase, mainstream, special and independent), still use this method, called a Provision Review to collectively define high-quality teaching and additionality, year on year.  it is cost effective and everyone has a voice.  Please note a Provision Review is not the same as Provision Mapping (which is part of the paperwork approach often put forward).  The strength of a Provision Review lies not just in the process, but in the engagement of all stakeholders, in defining what matters, whilst simultaneously reducing the paperwork!  Social dialogue to define social value.

Call for action

So, what can we do? Below, are just a few questions, which will hopefully act as pointers.  You may have ideas of your own, which I would be interested to hear about.  As an educator and leader:

  • Consider what value you and your organisation add to society, over and above the academic and monetary returns
  • How can you measure this added ‘social value’ and is there a common consensus?
  • How you promote and celebrate added social value?
  • In commissioning and procuring goods and services, how can you/your institution, utilise more efficiently, organisations that clearly define and demonstrate their social value?
  • How is your learning community contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals?  Can you do more?

As I shared, at the onset, I don’t’ have the answers and I’m an advocate, not an expert.  However, I do believe we need the debate and we need to stop missing opportunities.  What I do know is, I want children and young people to grow into confident men and women committed to improving the world, not just for themselves, but others too.  I want children and young people to have an educational experience that is more than just academic.  An experience that develops them as people and leaders, whatever the future holds.  I want individuals (including myself) to think less about the self and more about the other.  None of this will happen, unless we change the paradigm and embrace the importance of social value.  Change does not come without a cost.  However, the gain of a sustainable social value lifestyle, far outweighs the short-term cost.  Are you up for the challenge?  Together let’s be courageous!

Further reading:

Social Value Hub http://www.socialvaluehub.org.uk/

Buy Social https://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/buy-social

Case study: Changing Education system | Margret Rasfeld from Germany (Video) – student voice on social value of education

Three #DigiMeets & PedagooHampshire 2016-2017

#1 Developing and strengthening #Teams 2016

The political events over the last few weeks have certainly served to highlight the power of teams and leadership. There are many facets to leadership; but for me a key aspect is ‘developing & strengthening teams’.

In my professional role, I am part of several teams and I also lead a national team of SEND specialists. These specialists are located across the country, come from different backgrounds and offer an amazing range of skills and expertise. Collectively we deliver evidence-based online CPD across the globe. Our mission is simple: improving outcomes for learners through targeted workforce development.

So how do I manage my team?

1) Choose wisely – in building a team in the first place, I look for people who are not only different to me, but also better than me! I think about the collective dynamic.

2) Clarity – Different people means different perceptions. So, I believe strongly in open dialogue, modelling and harnessing a culture of support & challenge. Nurturing relationships is key.

3) Communication – I invest time in planning my communications and sending timely updates. I get lots of feedback from the regular top tip info-graphic I send out. My team, can also book regular one-to-one time with me and one of my key questions is “How can I support you?”

4) Listen – I am keen for my team to grow in all aspects of their lives. So I listen to what drives them or what they place a value on and make a point to home in on these during interactions. I actively seek out opportunities to support their growth.

5) Encouragement – there is such a joy in seeing someone develop.  I make time to express my gratitude for the work they do. Publicly and privately I honour them for the amazing people they are and not just what they do.

Part of my role also involves liaising with external partners for my team members. Each comes with a different set of expectations; which isn’t always easy.

So, what have I learnt this year:

  • Plan: Investing time in the strategic makes the operational a natural process – forward thinking based on reflective practice is priceless
  • Patience: Recognise some team members need reminders and repetition – knowing the difference between equity and equality
  • Praise: Value what each team member brings to the table – however big or small: it all counts, and diversity is our strength!
  • Performance: When we focus on supported quality input – the output takes care of itself

This year, I also launched the 1st National SENCO Masterclass. My dream is to develop the professional expertise and pathways for SENCOs beyond the National SENCO Award. This has been a different team building approach … but that’s a story for another day!

#2 The Challenging Nature of Leadership 2016

Leadership is not easy. It is not about personality traits but learned behaviours that develop overtime through the synergy of conceptual knowledge growth and experience. Authentic influence is acquired, not an automatic reaction.

In this blog, I seek to focus on 5 aspects around the nature of leadership; sharing some observations and hopefully providing ideas for further development. I do not think there is a single solution to any situation. Effective decision making is born out of open dialogue.

Top tips for success: Use every opportunity to articulate the connection of your vision to your values. Give voice to the direction of travel. Invest in supportive mentors, coaches and friends.

  • Identity

People often talk about leaders being role models. However, this behaviour is rooted in a core knowledge of knowing ‘who I am?’ This identity knowledge is the catalyst for defining beliefs, values and principles – thereby determining character.

Over the years, a number of eminent leaders (including Ralph Waldo Emerson & Stephen Covery) have quoted the following:

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

Thoughts speak from a place of who we believe we are.

Top tips for success: Sieve your thoughts, consider options & be open to new ideas.

  • Clarity

Leaders need to not only articulate where they (and others) are headed, but also define the direction and pace of travel. This is about more than communication. It embraces sustainability i.e. not losing track when distractions come along, but equally being flexible and open; responding to changing circumstances.

 

  • Challenge 4 Change

Ironically, I think this is the one most leaders find a challenge. They want change, but do not want to be challenged. In recent months, I have seen two common responses by school leaders to challenge. The first to take it personally and in doing so lose sight of the discussion. Fragile egos often get in the way of progress. The second is to respond with ‘I know’ – great way to stop conversations. Since more & more conversations take place on social media, we are in danger of becoming an industry that feeds on false empathy.

Top tips for success: Be open to challenge and if you need to challenge 4 change, avoid seeing it as a trade-off for being popular!

  • Enable

Leadership can be infectious and has the potential to ignite thousands of hearts and minds into leadership. Our big stories feed the wow factor but have a short shelf-life. Our best stories help others feel ‘I can too’.

Top tips for success: Invest in others – share you best stories!

  • Hope

It is too easy to criticize, much harder to be a leader of hope. Hope needs to be real and not just a there, there factor.

Top tip for success: Know what you are hopeful for and share it regularly.

Be the best of who you are, because your best is well designed and unique!

#3 Prepare for success: Leadership 2016/7

We all want success. But what does success mean? What does it look like? Do we embrace success when it arrives?

A man of faith has a dream one night. In it, the Lord appeared before him and said, “Whatever happens, I will be there for you, I will help you”. He awoke felling safe, secure and protected. A few weeks later, his town was hit by floods. The water was up to his knees. The rescue team knocked at this door. ‘No, no, no the Lord will save me!’ He declined their help. The water level now filled the first floor, a boat came by and offered him a ride to safety. ‘No, no, no the Lord will save me!’ He declined their help. Finally perched on the roof, a helicopter flies by and offers to rescue him. ‘No, no, no the Lord will save me!’ He declined their help. The man drowned. When he met his maker he asked why the Lord had not helped him. To which he received the reply, “Who do you think sent the rescue team, the boat and helicopter?”

Sometimes we are so caught up in striving for success, we don’t recognise it when it arrives. Other times, we have fixed views on what we think success ‘should’ look like, we miss out on what it ‘does’ look like. Each of us is unique.

My leadership pledge: to prepare for success; embrace it and enable others to the same!

Success involves change. If it didn’t we would be stagnant! There is a positive synergy between learning and change that accelerates success. Success breeds success. So in effect our journeys are from success to more success! That might be big leaps or small steps. It doesn’t matter. Without the journey, there is no destination. Without the destination, there is no journey. Where to start? Gratitude. Being grateful, I find, helps me to align my thinking. It stops me being distracted by the day-to-day mundane issues and focuses my attention on the bigger picture. So do we really prepare ourselves for success? Do we engender a culture (devoid of jealousy and comparison) to say it’s ok to be successful? Do we allow success to be part of our identity? Are we comfortable in celebrating the success of others? Do we choose a joy-filled lifestyle?

Since I was 14, I have been continually refining my dream on what I want the educational experience to be like for children and young people, in this country and around the world. It’s in my DNA. It takes collective effort and will plus a sustained commitment. Along the way, I’ve taken risks, I’ve made mistakes … and I’ve embraced opportunities when there was a knock at the door. The successes came in all shapes and sizes – they still do!

I wish everyone optimum success in the coming year in all areas (work, relationships, goals, dreams or just doing life).

Have the courage to answer the door and celebrate! 

PedagooHampshire 2016-17 (see photo above)

Simplify: 4Cs + 4Es

Reflections often (not always) include a rewind. So this my Rewind << of #pedagoohamphire16:

As a previous senior leader, I would habitually probe my staff after CPD on not just what they had learnt, but what that would change in the classroom/for pupils. Face-to-face and with established relationships, this was easy to do. So as @vivienne‍ led the final keynote, I was heartened to hear her remind us of the distinction between professional learning & professional development. In recent years, as I have delivered more CPD externally, I have asked attendees what they will do as a result of my input. Too often, the reply was a to-do list! That’s not change. In my field of SEND, I started to shift into strategic planning evaluations. Whilst this had stronger mileage than to-do lists, I still wasn’t hitting the right chord for professional development. Vivienne’s presentation was erudite and energising; hitting the right balance between challenge and support. We were asked initially, what in our thinking has changed?

Successful schools for me, have three core elements:

1) Practitioners have a model OF learning, which they use to identify and address barriers to learning

2) There is a shared language FOR learning, which serves to ignite meta-cognitive dialogues

3) There is an appreciation of the ‘joy of learning’ and the development of #JoyChampions (more on this at a later date)

Working in many schools, as I do, I see a variety of models of learning. A recent one, that caught my attention was: Collect (knowledge/info) – Connect (make links) and Create (apply what you have learnt to develop something new). The children in the school found this easy to grasp, discuss and deliver.

So, what shifted for me?

Rewind <<

The first keynote speaker Patrick @ottleyoconnor mentioned his recent participation in a conference in Vietnam. The focus of the conference was the three Es: energise, engage and empower. Awhile back, I developed the 4Es to support the SEND Reforms. This for me combined the learning and development, we would need to deliver the changes ahead. I still stand by these

What struck me about the Vietnam experience though, was how they mirrored the same conference theme for students and staff simultaneously. So in the same vein, surely the 4Cs above (revised model post #pedagooampshire16) could be used for staff and students. I have already drafted a staff template; which I will use at a CPD in October – watch this space for feedback. Any thoughts, in the meantime – much appreciated. This (as am I) is a work in progress!

Sandwiched between the two keynotes were a number of well-paced thought-provoking sessions and of course lunch! Grateful to all involved.

Rewind <<

That takes me to the start of the day and the night before, both marked by fun social interactions, generosity and encouraging banter.

And that’s where I think I will begin my Monday back at work … socially engaged with a new paradigm. What will I rewind on Friday?

#WomenEd 2015-2017

#1 Being Authentic
I choose me!
This blog post is a prelude to the learning conversation I am facilitating this weekend at the @WomenEd Unconference 2015. The aim of my blog is to encourage reflective thought and dialogue among attendees, as well as those looking in.
Authenticity is defined in the dictionary as ‘real or genuine, not copied or false, true and accurate’. Words such as trust, truthful, authoritative & integrity are often used to describe how authenticity is observed or recognised in daily life.
I like to think of ‘being authentic’ as ‘being intentional’ i.e. values-based and with heart. This implies a deeper awareness of personal agendas. Adopting a very simplified model, personal agendas can operate at two levels: technical and operational.
Technical
The specialist knowledge of who we are i.e. our values, strengths, talents, experience, aspirations, joys, hurts, inhibitions, desires etc. We are the only person to have lived with ourselves from birth. Someone once said to me “We are three people – the one we think we are, the one others think we are and the one we really are”. Interesting perspective. Individuals with whom we share an intimacy and frequency of communication often do have a greater insight into us through their objective outsider and empathetic perspective. Equally, often our perceptions of who we think we are and who others think we are do not always align with potential. The early days of The Beatles is a good example of this. As a young band, they enjoyed performing together and they believed they had something to offer to be famous. Several record labels initially turned them down for being too distinctive or without musical gravitas. No-one then knew the legendary phenomena they would turn out to be influencing generations across the world even beyond the life of the band and the life of individual members. The opposite can also be true. We can hold ourselves in higher esteem than we really are. You only need to watch a few shows of the X-Factor or BGT to see this. I guess it’s about accurate personal calibration.
Operational
This is the way we communicate who we are to ourselves and others. This is about the synergy of head (our thoughts, decisions and reasoning), heart (our beliefs, feelings and emotions) and behaviour (our actions). I am not implying that we need to share everything we think and feel with everyone. No, there needs to be a discerning filtering process depending on the relationships we have and the roles we are in. We all have vulnerabilities that we need to process in aligning our past, with the present as well as building for a future. This occurs against the continual backdrop of ‘life happens’ (unexpected eventualities). Each relationship carries with it a different level of intimacy and influence that also determines the extent to which we feel comfortable sharing, at what time and in what way. Our personalities also play a part. As an INFJ, I am all too aware of the environment I need to really open up. In addition, I would like to propose that in developing an increasing synergy between our head, heart and behaviour we need to be aware of masks or barriers.
There are times in my life when I have thought something in my head (e.g. I want to forgive X for hurting me), but I haven’t really felt it in my heart or even possibly shown it in my behaviour. We forgive for our own healing; therefore, it doesn’t always involve a behaviour to the other person. We may choose never to speak to them again, but we can still forgive. Awareness of this mismatch/masking behaviour has enabled me to pursue ‘authenticity’ at a deeper level. What I noticed is my behaviour changed, when my heart changed. Memory (real and perceived or active and subdued) also has a part to play. Masking can exist when we pretend to be someone we are not. This simply implies we haven’t sorted the technical or operational stuff out (often unintentionally) or we haven’t connected the technical with the operational. Human beings are complex.
Recently, I tried an experiment. I declared in my head “I choose not to be offended. I choose not to partner disappointment”. I didn’t feel it in my heart (misalignment), but I embraced it in my thoughts. In the weeks that followed, what I noticed was when challenges came my way – these two declarations became my rock for blocking out negativity in my heart and thereby changing my response/reaction. Affirmations (positive and/or boundary-based like my example) often start off in our heads as repeated statements, but as they seep into the heart, behaviours change. Well that’s my experience anyway.
By no means, do I have the answers and writing this blog to explain intrinsic processes hasn’t been easy. But I hope it makes us all think and think differently. If you disagree with what I have said – great … I hope you feel free to tell me how and why. If you can relate to what I have shared again, do please get in touch.
The @WomenEd Unconference has given me the opportunity to articulate some of these issues, but it is an on-going journey. I look forward to meeting some of you at the event and others … may our paths cross at the appropriate juncture in time, experience and life!

#2 Celebrating Uniqueness
So glad I am me
The #WomenEd Unconference (03.10.2015) was more than a historic event or moment in time. It was a catalyst for change – personal, organisational & national.
As I entered the conference what struck me most was the delightful tones of women gathering and chatting. This continued throughout the day – it was purposeful banter! I’m not a great chatterer myself, but I do enjoy listening to others positively and with animated articulation share their perspectives. The opening presentations were both erudite and pertinent. From the first utterance of ‘Good Morning’ on the podium, the supportive and challenging learning process started. We were off to a flying start. This was propelled through laughter, music and a mega emphasis on the Fun Factor!
Women from up and down the country; in all colours, shapes and sizes, with wide ranging backgrounds and experiences led most of the day. This was diversity in action. Sixty odd sessions in total with a breadth and depth of ideas and perspectives. All the sessions I attended were well paced, thought-provoking and led by women being authentic to their experience. There was a dynamic synergy between the ordinary and the extra-ordinary! One presenter prepared her planning notes on a t-shirt … and as participants we were given the opportunity to express our ideas and thoughts on a t-shirt too. This was not a #BTDTGTTS moment … it was a creative step to rewrite the t-shirt & dump the baggage!
I had the privilege of leading a session, entitled “If you’re your authentic self, there is no fear or competition.’ The fluorescent post-it notes were out … and some thought “Oh no! …”, but then there was that magic moment of change & the wow factor took over. These women were on fire and they were sharing in a way that was real and genuine. The focus of the session followed a stream of consciousness from identity to authenticity to fullness of life! Technology was used to engage wider personal networks in the dialogue in the moment … we were sucking up the goodness others see in us and defining our identity at the same time.
By the time we got to the plenary, the pervading thought being where had the day gone? … and yet so much had happened on so many levels! It’s all about relationships – with ourselves and with others.
The final session was not cheesy at all … #genderedcheese is an interesting dialogue. Have a look on Twitter. The notion of #genderedcheese boards makes me chuckle and think about how we change the accepted norm. Sometimes, wisdom presents us with the answers and our challenge is to define the question and then act upon it. The adventure has only just begun …

Each one of us left a different person; celebrating our individual uniqueness as a ‘Women of …. (fill in the blank with a word that best fits you). [If you are male reading this then try ‘I am a Man of (personal positive attribute)’].

We are certainly better for the experience of #WomenEd, the friendships & the start of a journey. Heartfelt thanks to the dynamic #WomenEd Co-ordinating Team, ALL the awesome presenters, the courageous attendees, who took a leap of faith in #WomenEd & our amazing hosts – Microsoft.
Till next time …
#3 What’s your 2016 message?
This is a spontaneous blog! I saw an advert with a bracelet stating, “She believed she could for she did 2016”.

This got me thinking: four months into the year, if I was to design a bracelet message to sum up the year I anticipate (i.e now looking forward) or in the future looking back (i.e. Dec 2016) – what would it say?

Do share your thoughts & ideas … it would be good to look back on these in Dec 2016 & celebrate the joy of the moment!

#4 Be the change you want to see!
#IWD17
Over the years I have lead or facilitated numerous events to support the empowerment of women, in education and the community. These have been organised locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally. I have lead regular local professional groups for women, I have taught refugee women basic IT skills on their arrival to the UK and I have supported youth workshops in the villages of Africa. Talking to young women in Africa, our aim was to show them they had a choice before being tied down with early pregnancy at 14. Especially when that early pregnancy came in exchange for a bar of soap!
This year the theme for International Women’s Day is #BeBoldforChange. Boldness is indeed a desirable quality – the application of courage. Boldness, however does not always imply change. Sometimes boldness is about being still and saying no! Change also comes in all shapes and sizes and our response to change or even what needs changing varies. Change is a desire for what could be and sometimes in driving change, we miss out on what is.
The Milton Keynes #WomenEd team decided to BE the change we wanted to see. As a result, our event is a celebration of ‘What’s your joy!’ We believe ‘our playing small does not serve the world’ – quote from Marianne Williamson.

I’m reminded of a fable. The wind and sun decided to play a game: who could remove the man’s coat the fastest. The wind was confident and blew and blew. It just made the man hold on to his coat tighter. Then the sun shone as brightly as she could. The man feeling really warm had no choice but to remove his coat.

Each and every one of us has something special to offer, a unique gift of joy to give and receive. In Milton Keynes, we wanted to celebrate what educators do over and above their professional calling to feed their joy and the joy of others. The contributions reflect a range of generations working in education, cross phase and a variety of subject specialists. We are delighted an MP will be there to support us #HeForShe. In shining brightly, being the best of who we are – we are advancing the NOW generation!
So our #BeBoldforChange – we are living the moment!
We wish you all a joyful International Women’s Day 2017 #WhatsYourJoy
Call for action:
• What is the change you want to see?
• How to make that a reality in the NOW?
• Make a list of all the unique gifts you have to offer education and the NOW generation and then make time to share and celebrate!

#5 Ripples of influence
October 2018
#WomenEd (as a movement) emerged two years ago against the backdrop of accelerated change in educational reform and diminishing local networks.  Ignited through social media, it went on to be far more than just an online dialogue. #WomenEd became a community of diverse individuals (men and women) supporting each other. My initial engagement was through curiosity – what would a gender community in education look like and what difference would it make? My pre-and post-unconference blog 2015 has been shared above.

A year ago, as a Regional Lead, I was privileged to host a 1st anniversary party We played chocolate Jenga and a whole range of other party games! Chris Holmwood (Senior Deputy Head at Shenley Brook End School) kindly ran the creche. Since then we have continued to hold half-termly meetings in Milton Keynes.
So, what does #WomenEd mean to me and what has been the impact?

For me, there is a central theme that runs through the 8 principles of #WomenEd. – ‘People Matter’ #WomenEd provides a space for us to collectively be the unique individuals we were created to be. To live our purposes (our whys) and develop our plans for further growth.
My why is ‘I believe in the JOY of learning’. As such, I love to see people, of all ages, learn and develop into their potential and fulfill their destinies. I do believe, we each have a unique path to follow and these paths cross for a reason – we have something to give and gain. Giving and gaining are interlinked – when you give you gain; when you gain, you have a bigger/wider responsibility to give away … and so the cycle continues.
#IWD2017 in Milton Keynes was a celebration of women under the theme of ’What’s your joy?’ We had woman from different roles in education sharing their passions/ interests … the things they do, outside the day job, that feeds their sense of fulfillment. What a creative and life-affirming 90 minutes!

As giveaways, children with behaviour difficulties made individual coasters for all the speakers and guests! (See photos above)

Feedback …

We have further meetings planned for 2017-18 including participation in ‘Walking in her shoes’ global event (May 2017) and #IWD2018 already has a great speaker line-up. We are also beginning to team up with other #WomenEd networks in different regions / women in other countries.

So, what’s been the impact?

  • Personally, I’ve become more aware of the strengths colleagues have, as well as the challenges they face. I have further clarified my values and boundaries. Boundaries are not the same as barriers or glass ceilings – it is about choice.
  • As a local network, we are seeing women grow in confidence and self-worth. The regular local meetings facilitate follow up and greater support; which is not always possible on social media.
  • Locally, we’ve put #WomenEd on the map. A local MP recently asked a council employee to consult with us on a prospective project proposal they are putting forward nationally.
  • Nationally, local colleagues have attended the national #WomenEd Unconference 2016 and are developing their own networks, based on common interests.
  • Globally, we have linked up with another women’s organisation and our intent is through technology engage in a live chat at one of our future meetings. The ‘Walking in her shoes’ participation will help girls in less developed countries attend school, by providing fresh water. They won’t have to walk 5 miles to fetch it. We need to invest in the next generation now!

So, to conclude #WomenEd is about relational leadership and the ripple effect of influence. It’s about inner and outer connection. At the heart of it is simply: People Matter … that includes you!
Happy 2nd anniversary to the #WomenEd Community!