As a specialist leadership and permanent service recruiter, one of our main missions is to place representative leaders into leadership teams across the UK. This is why we find it of the utmost importance to celebrate the BAME community within leadership and important head figures in creating change in the Education sector like Betty Campbell, the first black headteacher in Wales.
This being said, we wanted to take the time to commemorate Sukhdev Singh Mangat, the country’s first Asian Headteacher and from the Midlands - where we’re based.
Born in Rampur, India, in 1934, Mangat had to flee Pakistan with his family at the age of 14. However, these hardships didn’t stop him from achieving two degrees in English and Science before becoming a university lecturer.
In 1960, he and his wife decided to relocate to England where he found work in a foundry in which he was forced to cut his hair and stop wearing his turban. Despite this discrimination, Mangat continued to work hard and eventually gained the relevant qualifications to teach in the UK.
He got his first teaching job in 1962 at Willenhall Comprehensive as a physics teacher. Once he got the job, the head of the education authority told him “You are the first (Asian), what happens now is up to you” leaving him with an enormous amount of pressure we can’t even fathom.
Instead of crumbling under the pressure, Mangat blossomed, integrating the school and community and becoming a role model for the BAME community in his area. After deciding to make the switch to primary education he began teaching at Ashmore Park Junior School and then became deputy head of Dudley Road School.
In 1979 he was appointed as headteacher of West Park Primary School in Wolverhampton. At the time West Park was struggling and many said that turning it around was an impossible job. However, with his community-centred approach, he managed to bring pride back to the school creating a legacy for himself.
We all have something to learn from individuals like Sukhdev Singh Mangat, his determination and sincere desire to better education and act as a representative role model for pupils coming from BAME backgrounds. This is something we need more of so if you’re concerned about diversity in your leadership team read our blog that details a variety of ways you can encourage and support more diverse candidates.
If you are looking for a new leadership opportunity within the education sector have a look at our latest roles.