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Overcoming barriers to success: Stories from Women System Leaders

Chartered College of Teaching and WomenEd collaborated to celebrate International Women’s Day, 2022.

We celebrate some of the amazing women leading education in England and who, as system leaders, are role models for all of us.  We asked about each participant’s pathway to success, noting barriers they overcome and challenges swept aside.

Here you can watch back the inspirational evening of storytelling and revelation.

Full membership information and the benefits of being a member of the Chartered College of Teaching can be found here – 


  • WomenEd is a global grassroots movement that connects aspiring and existing women leaders in education and gives women leaders a voice in education.
  • Glade Primary School received a wellbeing award for its focus on the emotional and mental health of its pupils.
  • London ITV News – Glade Primary School, Headteacher Farzana Hussain
  • The Muslim Teachers Association was established in 1979 and is a non-profit making organisation run by and for Muslim teachers. It provides support and advice to Muslim teachers and addresses issues that Muslim teachers and pupils are facing in school. The Muslim teachers association provides a cohesive platform that allows positive dialogue amongst all faiths and none.    
  • Decolonising and diversifying the curriculum –  further information and to access modules 
  • Education Policy Institute is to raise standards in education through rigorous data analysis, research and the exchange of information and knowledge to help inform the public and hold government and decision-makers to account.   
  • Fair Education Alliance has grown to represent 250 member organisations to ensure that no child’s success is limited by their socioeconomic background. 
  • Causeway Education is a charity supporting young people to overcome barriers in accessing Higher Education. It’s aim is to ensure students are supported to explore options effectively, make ambitious choices and produce outstanding university, college and apprenticeship applications.  
  • UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives.

Our Presenters

Vivienne Porritt OBE FCCT,  Joint Founder WomenEd

Vivienne Porritt is a leadership consultant working with school leaders on impact, vision, strategy, professional learning and development, diversity, and women’s leadership. She is Vice President of the Chartered College of Teaching in England, a Non-Exec Director of Captiva Learning Ltd, a Member of Eko Trust and a member of FED Advisory Council.  Vivienne is also a lecturer for the Senior Leaders Masters and Apprenticeship for the National College of Education.  Formerly, she was a secondary headteacher, Director for School Partnerships at UCL Institute of Education and a Chair of Governors in London.  Vivienne is also an author, a coach, and a keynote speaker, as well as being a Co-founder and, joyously, a Global Strategic Leader of WomenEd, a movement that connects, supports, and empowers women leaders in education and campaigns for increased representation in leadership roles . Vivienne is also co-editor, with Keziah Featherstone, of 10%braver: Inspiring Women to Lead Education (2019) Sage Education, and WomenEd’s second book Being 10% braver (2021) Corwin.

Farzana Hussain FCCT, Headteacher and President, The Muslim Teachers’ Association

Farzana has been teaching for over 20 years, with experience in various leadership roles. She started her career in her current Primary school, a Church of England school in Dartford, Kent, before moving to a large 4-form entry diverse inner-London school in Newham, where she taught for the majority of her career. Farzana is a Fellowship member of the Chartered College of teaching and is currently studying for Masters in School Leadership with University of Buckingham through the National College of Education. Farzana wishes to empower and inspire women to lead in education through her work with  ‘WomenEd’ and has held meetings with HM Chief Inspector of Education, Amanda Spielman, and other OFSTED professionals in her role as President of ‘The Muslim Teachers’ Association’.

She was appointed as Headteacher at Glade Primary School, in Redbridge, in September 2019.  Since then, they have successfully been through an OFSTED inspection, been accredited with The UNICEF Rights Respecting Gold Award, The EYFS Quality Mark, The Well-being Award for Schools and Eco School- Green Flag. The experience of Covid-19 has taught educators and schools to be innovative in the way we deliver the curriculum to our pupils. One of our biggest successes has been using virtual learning platforms, including video conferencing.  Glade Primary School was praised on ITV news for continuing with educational visits through Zoom.

Natalie Perera, Chief Executive Officer, Education Policy Institute

Natalie is the Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute, an independent research institute which she co-founded in 2016. Prior to that, Natalie worked in the Department for Education where she led on research and policy interventions including on narrowing the gap between disadvantaged children and the rest and reform of the school funding system. Between 2014 and 2015, Natalie was seconded to the Cabinet Office where she worked in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office.

Natalie is also a Director of a Multi-Academy Trust in South London and a Trustee of the charities, The Fair Education Alliance and Causeway Education.

Ndidi Okezie, Chief Executive Officer, UK Youth

Ndidi is the CEO of UK Youth; a leading national charity with an open network of over 8000 youth organisations and nation partners. Prior to joining UK Youth, Ndidi’s career spans across the education, charity and corporate sectors. Her former roles include teacher, school leader, Executive Director of Teach First and Vice President at Pearson PLC.

Ndidi currently sits on the Board of The Mulberry Schools Trust, NCS, Teach For All and Sky’s Diversity Advisory Council.

Vicky Beer CBE, Regional Schools Commissioner

Vicky Beer started in her role on 1 November 2015 as Regional Schools Commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire and was previously a member of the Headteacher Board (HTB).

Vicky’s role is to monitor standards and effectiveness across academies and Trusts within the area. By doing this she works closely with a number of partners, including leaders from the education sector, Ofsted, Local Authorities and Local Dioceses.

Before her appointment, Vicky was a National Leader of Education and Executive Principal of The West Trafford Learning Partnership (part of The Dean Trust), comprising of Ashton on Mersey and Broadoak schools in Trafford.

Earlier in her career she also:

  • Helped to establish and was Chair of the Teaching Schools Council (2011 to 2015)
  • Worked as an Ofsted additional inspector
  • Was the Director and founding member of By Schools for Schools, a system-led school improvement body serving the Greater Manchester area

Vicky Beer was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2013.

Professor Dame Alison Peacock DBE DL DLitt, Chief Executive Officer, Chartered College of Teaching

Professor Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, a Professional Body that seeks to raise teacher status through celebrating, supporting and connecting teachers to provide expert teaching and leadership.  Prior to joining the Chartered College, Dame Alison was Executive Headteacher of The Wroxham School in Hertfordshire.  Her career to date has spanned Primary, Secondary and advisory roles. She is an Honorary Fellow of Queens College Cambridge and UCL, a Visiting Professor of both the University of Hertfordshire and Glyndŵr University and a trustee for Big Change.  Her research is published in a series of books about Learning without Limits offering an alternative approach to inclusive school improvement.

Join us to be inspired, to be 10% Braver and to ensure more women lead education. 

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