Inspirational Woman: Sarah Mullin | Deputy Head, Priory School

Sarah Mullins

Sarah Mullin is the Deputy Head of Priory School, a co-educational independent school for children aged 6 months to 18 years in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

She is currently completing her Doctorate in Education with Newman University.

Sarah is passionate about education and feels that education has the power to open doors and change lives. As a highly skilled practitioner who is committed to driving social change, Sarah has helped thousands of children to maximise their learning potential enabling them to achieve academic and pastoral success which has increased their future life choices. Sarah enjoys leading CPD sessions for aspiring, training and experienced teachers at schools, colleges and universities nationwide and she has mentored educational professionals all across the UK, many of whom have progressed professionally to become educational leaders themselves.

Sarah is proud to be a Founding Fellow of The Chartered College of Teachers, a Fellow of the RSA, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. She is also a Chartered Teacher of English, a Chartered Manager and a Teaching and Learning Academy school leader. As an inspirational educationalist, Sarah has contributed to educational texts and her own book is due to be published in 2019. Of all her achievements and accolades, Sarah credits becoming a mother to her three children as her proudest achievement in life.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

After graduating from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in English with Linguistics, I studied for my PGCE and began my first teaching post as an English NQT. I was soon promoted to the role of Deputy Head of English before becoming a Head of English, an Assistant Head and a Deputy Head. I am passionate about growing as an educational leader and after completing my Masters in Education, I began my Doctorate in Education. I am proud to be a Founding Fellow of The Chartered College of Teachers, a Fellow of the RSA, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. I am also a Chartered Teacher of English and a Chartered Manager.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always been ambitious and conscientious – qualities that my parents instilled in me from an early age. However, as a teacher, I was actually encouraged to apply for these positions of responsibility by my colleagues. It was their positive words of encouragement that gave me the confidence to realise that I could play an active role in driving positive change by leading others.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I was promoted to the role of Deputy Head of English at the age of 24, just after completing my NQT year and I was appointed as Head of English at the age of 26. I was delighted to become a member of the Senior Leadership Team in my early 30s, positions which are statistically more often held by men. I am incredibly passionate about what I do and have been told that my positivity is infectious, even in the face of adversity. I am proud to have lead positive change with demonstrable impact in each of the roles that I have been appointed to, proving that an excellent leader will be successful irrespective of their age or gender.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Without a doubt my biggest achievement has been becoming a mummy to my three wonderful children. My children make everything I do worthwhile. I am so incredibly proud of them and I strive to be a positive role model for my children.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I would say that resilience is an important quality to have as a senior school leader; no two days are ever the same and you never know what each day will bring. A sincere smile, positive attitude and the genuine desire to help others have earned me the affectionate nickname ‘mummy of the school’ by some of the children and parents! I have also benefitted from being a member of various support networks such as The Chartered College of Teaching and #WomenEd, a grassroots movement which connects existing and aspiring leaders in education. These organisations are lead by truly inspirational women who are amazing role models.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I firmly believe that there is no greater resource than the skills and experiences of each other. We would not be where we are today if it was not for the guidance, wisdom and support of those who have mentored us, challenged us and given us the opportunities we needed to flourish as leaders in education. I have mentored teachers nationwide and my leadership style has had a ripple effect: many of those who I have supported have become leaders themselves. I am currently a WLE Coach where I am able to offer support and guidance to women seeking to develop their leadership skills and reach their potential as a woman leading in education.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Despite the workforce being predominantly female in secondary schools, just over one third of all head teachers in England are female. I believe that the young people of today must experience gender equality in schools by seeing women more equally distributed in leadership positions if they are to really understand and appreciate gender equality.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Everything happens for a reason; trust the process!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I am delighted that my own book ‘What they didn’t teach me on my PGCE’ is due to be published this year. The book aims to provide readers with an informal collection of tips, anecdotes and experiences written by professionals working in education for aspiring, trainee and newly qualified teachers. The pressure of being a new teacher is immense, but teachers are rarely aware that those of us who have enjoyed career success have endured challenges along the way!

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