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Leadership mentoring 

Encouraging more women teachers from state and independent schools into top education jobs.


  • Girls’ Schools Association (GSA)
  • Association of State Girls’ Schools (initial 2017/18 cohort)
  • All interested state schools (ongoing cohorts)
  • Bright Field Consulting


There is a crisis reported in the numbers of head teachers in our schools, with a shortage of up to 19,000 senior leaders predicted by 2022. This partnership works with women teachers in state and independent schools. It enables them to learn the characteristics and skills required for senior leadership in schools through a two-year programme of mentoring with high-performing leaders from the worlds of business, the justice system, public service and the Army, all co-ordinated by Bright Field Consulting.

Participants receive operational and emotional support, coaching and mentoring and the opportunity to network. Women can join the programme at any point in their career, whether the next leadership step for them might be running a school project or running a department.

For the first cohort (2017-18) GSA worked closely with the Association of State Girls’ Schools and now the scheme is open to women in any state school. Where feasible, independent and state school teachers work together in the programme, with each GSA participant paired with a state school counterpart, so they can share experiences outside their current school context. As well as meeting separately with their mentor, each pair works together on a local community project, paving the way for further independent-state school partnerships.


Cohort 1 (2017-18)

During 2017-18, 63 women took part, 4 became Heads and 6 were promoted, and a number of new state-independent school partnerships are now up and running with others brewing. The administrator, Ian Wigston of Bright Field Consulting, has been commissioned by John Catt Educational to write a book about the programme.

Participants – 63 – of which 37 were from 30 GSA schools and 26 from 18 ASGS schools Headships – 4 – four women (3 GSA, 1 ASGS) have become school Heads since taking part in the scheme Promotions – 6 – six women (4 GSA, 2 ASGS) have been promoted since taking part in the scheme

“Having a mentor has made such a difference to me, it’s added impetus. For me it’s fantastic to have that external support that ironically has nothing to do with schools. It has made me more reflective, more outward-looking.” Dr Charlotte Exon, Director of Music

“I found the mentoring programme to be fundamental to my eventual appointment as a Head. The quality of the coaching and the efficacy of the feedback given provided me with a great deal of insight into my leadership style, personal strengths and interpersonal skills. I would thoroughly recommend the scheme for all aspiring leaders and future headteachers.” Simone Niblock, Headmistress

A number of new state-independent school partnerships are now up and running as a result of the scheme. They include:

  • Readaxation: three Birmingham schools are exploring the impact of reading – as an alternative to social media – on students’ mental health
  • Student mental health: participating schools are comparing experiences and practices for the benefit of all
  • Diversity conference: some schools are working on a conference to share experiences and learn more about best practice in diversity and inclusion

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