International Women's Day

International Women's Day - Lisa Peterkin - Director of Secondary

In honour of International Women's Day, we had the privilege of interviewing Lisa Peterkin, the Director of Secondary, about her impressive career path and the obstacles she has overcome in leadership. She shares her journey from a teacher to a Headteacher and school improvement advisor for Lambeth, and the advice she would give to other women aspiring to leadership roles in education.

Can you tell us about your journey into leadership?

I started out as a teacher of Sociology, Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, and Key Stage 3 (KS3) Humanities. I enjoyed working with young people in a formal setting and eventually moved into leadership through taking on additional responsibilities such as leading on Literacy and English as an Additional Language (EAL). From there, I progressed to Middle Leadership as Head of Year and Inclusion Lead, and later took on a senior leadership role as Head of Department for Humanities. I then became a specialist subject leader for Humanities in Birmingham before moving back to London to become Deputy Head for Teaching and Learning. After that, I was appointed Senior, sole Deputy, and Associate Head, leading on school culture, before becoming a Headteacher and eventually a school improvement advisor for Lambeth.

Could you tell us about your current role and any barriers you've faced?

I am currently the Director of Secondary, where I lead on secondary education strategy. Unfortunately, in the past I have faced direct and indirect racism, with assumptions being made about my abilities based on my ethnicity and gender. To overcome these barriers, I rely on resilience and personal anecdotes to highlight the issues, challenge perceptions, and promote diversity and inclusion in leadership roles.

What advice would you give to women starting out in leadership?

My advice would be to believe in yourself and your capabilities, seek out relevant training and development opportunities, find a trusted mentor who can offer guidance and support, and have frank conversations with current leaders in the field to learn from their experiences. It's also important to take risks and seize opportunities for growth, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. With hard work and determination, women can succeed in leadership roles and make a positive impact in their organizations.