Headmaster's Blog - 12th February 2018
So half term is here, and I've taken the opportunity for a bit of R&R time at the best place for that, i.e. at my Mum's house. Having the time to sit down and read a newspaper and watch some TV has made me aware of a couple of news stories at what might be considered to be opposite ends of the "importance and value" spectrum, but which I could put within the same section of a Venn diagram if I drew it carefully enough.
The first story to which my Mum drew my attention was that we have just passed the 100th anniversary of women first getting the vote in the UK. That deserves some celebration in itself, but most people remain unaware that only certain women were included in that legislation (including those over 30 and those with a university degree), and it took some years before women were afforded the same treatment as men when it came to elections. That said, the UK was in a far better position than a number of other, apparently enlightened, countries: in Switzerland it took until the 1970s for women to be able to vote!
I happened to be listening to my mother's wise words on this topic whilst reading a news article about a possible reunion of the Spice Girls. I accept that mentioning this after writing about women's suffrage is a supreme act of bathos, but it seemed odd to me that I was able to read about a pop act, albeit a very successful one, from twenty years ago getting back together, but could find nothing in the same publication (I shall keep its name out of this post) referring to the important centenary that could be described as helping to lead indirectly to much of the equality that we see today. Maybe, if I am kind, that is simply because we take some types of inequality for granted now, although I am well aware that there is much still to be done.
This comes hot on the heels of the debacle last year when the BBC was forced to reveal the gap between the highest earning men and women, and the spotlight is quite firmly being held on all industries and businesses now to report on their own situations. I'm delighted at the outcome here at Wellingborough (click here to view our Gender Pay Gap Report on the policies page), which shows that over half of the top 50% of earners are women. It is not something we consciously think about, because it really is a case of making sure that jobs go to the best people, but I am glad that the pupils at the School are learning in an environment in which gender is not a determining factor, and both girls and boys can see female and male staff who are Senior Leaders, Heads of Department, Housemasters or Housemistresses, or performing significant roles in the Support Staff.
I've just seen a follow-up piece suggesting that the Spice Girls won't be either touring or recording, so I'm really not sure how that counts as a reunion, but if it gets Girl Power back on the agenda, it doesn't really matter. When the School reconvenes next week, the Prefect selection process will begin in earnest and it will be interesting to see who has put themselves forward for consideration. I'm sure that all our wannabes will put a strong case, and I shan't have to ask, "Who do you think you are?"!