#InternationalWomensDay Interview with Ms Cole

You've been at the helm of The Petchey Academy since it was built 10 years ago, what are you most proud of in its 10 year history?

I remember taking evening classes at the school that used to stand on this site, it was a very uninspiring place to learn. I’m incredibly proud of our academy and all that we have achieved. Hackney has changed dramatically over the past 10 years and it’s been incredible to be part of that momentum for change in the area, giving young people many more opportunities. Our Celebration of Achievement evening is one of the best parts of the year for me, Petchey students make me proud year after year. Last week I was privileged to watch our GCSE drama students’ exam performances. It was wonderful to see the culmination of their hard work paying off through some astonishing performances.

What's it like to work at The Petchey Academy?

Our motto “inspiring and supporting every child” means that at Petchey we place as much emphasis on the importance of being happy and participating in a wide range of experiences, as we do on academic success. Both students and staff are expected to embody our four Petchey Ps - Politeness, Positivity, Participation and Perseverance, in everything they do. The academy aims to nurture and stimulate our students whatever their interests and ambitions, and we have an incredibly engaged and energetic body of staff who work hard to achieve this. We have a very strong leadership team and a real culture of developing and nurturing talent from within.

What advice would you like to give to any aspiring female leaders?

My advice would be to seize every opportunity to learn, develop yourself and show what you are capable of, and don’t be afraid to take on a new challenge. If you’re already in a role and aspire to move up, actively put yourself forward, seek out opportunities to take on more responsibility to support your line manager and demonstrate your ambition. Women are just as capable as men at taking on leadership roles in every walk of life, but it’s also important to have the confidence to put yourself forward.

We keep hearing that there is a shortage of women studying and pursuing careers in STEM, how can we inspire more young women to get involved in these subjects?

We’ve got some extremely talented female leads in STEM subjects here at Petchey who already work very hard to provide a varied and engaging curriculum so we’re seeing more female students than ever go on to study these after Sixth Form. Sadly these students don’t always end up pursuing a career in a STEM related role, so my advice would be keep going, do what inspires you in a subject you’re passionate about because there are plenty of roles our there for talented women.  STEM subjects can lead to a huge variety of different career paths from engineering to teaching and being female should never be a reason

What or who inspires you?

Recently it’s been the athletics and our young athletes that I have found inspirational. I love sport and have huge admiration for the drive and sheer dedication it takes to become a professional athlete.