Name: Emily Dalton
Role: Assistant Head
Region: East Midlands
Years Served in Education: 11
I have worked my way from main scale Geography teacher, to Head of Key Stage Humanities, Head of Geography, Head of Humanities and to Assistant Head.
I have been inspired by some great people along the way. My first mentor was the NQT lead in my first few years of teaching who was a strong, fair and forward looking woman. Her name is Julie Humble and she has now retired. I have been inspired by a number of people involved in Women in Leadership for example Kay Fuller at the University of Nottingham and Christine Horracks at the Elizabethan Academy. I have had some positive male role models too; my current CEO is quite forward thinking and supporting Women in Leadership initiatives at within the Academy group.
Twitter Handle: @nottmedwomen
Why do you volunteer to contribute to the WomenEd community?
I think that raising awareness of some of unique challenges faced by women in the work place is extremely important if we are to adjust the balance of gender leadership in the sector. Being connected to the WomenEd community means that I will be able to work with other people around the country to ensure that the schools I work in are considering and leading some different approaches to the recruitment into leadership as well as flexibility around leadership roles and fair pay. This includes proper job shares or TLR/leadership payments paid in full even if the post holder works from home some of the time.
Why do you think we need more equality in the education system?
If we are to encourage girls and boys to strive to be the best they can be and have high aspirations for themselves, it is essential that there are positive role models at all levels within the school setting. A balance of men and women in leadership positions within any organisation is proven to be more productive than dominance of one gender. Diversity brings healthy decision making and balanced places of learning.
How do you lead?
I am a very clear communicator who has high expectations of those who I lead. I set realistic but ambitious goals for the teams I lead and have a very clear framework for the leadership of teaching across the school including what needs to be done and when. I am fair and hold others to account through the goals that I set them and with them. I am empathetic and understanding about the challenges that people face in the busy climate of a school, however my expectations remain high but manageable for people.
How do you maintain a work life balance?
I am highly organised and manage my workload efficiently. I have highly developed multitasking skills to ensure that work is completed within a certain time frame. I delegate work where appropriate and ensure that those that I lead remain within time frames. I do strictly ring-fence my time at home to maintain time for my two small children as well. It is important to keep perspective and have cut off points. I believe this is key to being productive and efficient.
What change would you like to see in the system?
I would like to see and am determined to contribute to changes to parental leave and how the system views fathers’ involvement in actively bringing up children particularly when it comes to extend paternity leave. I would like to see parents and careers supported by proper ‘returnships’ so that talent is not wasted and potential leaders of the future not left behind. I would also like to see a more creative and flexible approach to all roles within education from classroom teachers to senior leaders and beyond. I think that this would make a real difference to the sector and ensure we have a wider and more diverse range of leaders.
What has helped you progress in your leadership career?
I have been very determined and requested flexible working at Head of Faculty level as well as actively putting the case forward for flexible working and full payment of TLRs when people work from home. I have also challenged the norm within the organisation that I work by applying for and being successful as a senior leader whilst also being a parent of small children. The CEO within the academy group has also encouraged me to develop a Women in Leadership project across the schools in the group. It is very important to have men working along-side women who want to facilitate change.
I had a female mentor when I was in my first few years of teaching who I mentioned above. I remember discussing with her the dilemma of having children and carrying on being career-focussed. At the time I was Head of Geography. She said to me:
‘Someone has to be the first to make change happen, so go for it, put yourself forward and be that first person’.
And I did!
I read a lot of fiction as well as non-fiction. One of the most inspirational fiction readers I have read material from lately is Sue Monk-Kid who explores various challenges of race and gender discrimination through various periods of history from the 18th century slave trade era in the American deep south to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Each novel tells the story of a range of inspirational women and men who rise and are determined in the face of adversity. In terms of impact on leadership, it ensures that I stay determined even if the going gets tough sometimes; if people in these circumstances made change happen, then so can we.
“Be clear with yourself about your professional goals; be clear with others about your ambitions to facilitate change for the better”.