International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.
We spoke to our new Principal Toni Rhodes about her career so far, the challenges she has faced, who inspired her and why it is important to #ChoosetoChallenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world.
When I left school I went straight into administration before going into Social Care. In my mid- twenties I decided to go to University, I was given my first role in a College as a Placement Officer, I have progressed undertaking various roles from a Teacher, Curriculum Manger, Associate Principal, Executive Director and Vice Principal.
I have always continued to study during this time and following my Degree I went on to study a Master’s Degree, a level 8 in Leadership and became a Senior Fellow of the HEA.
I have also had some great experiences for example achieving Ofsted Outstanding, supporting other Colleges to improve and winning Beacon awards. I became a Beacon Assessor which I continue to do and more recently I’ve been appointed as the Principal for Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form.
I have met many great female leaders during my career in Education that have inspired me, I couldn’t narrow it down to one person.
I think the biggest challenge was when I went to University, my children were only one and three at that time and I worked nights in Social Care, sometimes I didn’t think I could do it but I got through it.
I didn’t choose to work in Education originally, I wanted to be a Social Worker but the more I studied and shared information with peers the more I enjoyed supporting others and made a decision that teaching was what I wanted to do.
I have never felt I had any difficulty because I am a woman but more the difficulty of having a young family and trying to do both at times has been challenging and I have often seen that for some woman they have felt that they would struggle to progress with young children.
I always say don’t let anything ever stop you pursuing your goals.
It is always important to make sure everyone has equal opportunities and challenge where you feel this is not happening, if you hold strong values you would never want to see anyone else disadvantaged.
People always ask me this question, I really don’t have any hobbies as my spare time is taken up with football runs and after school clubs like many parents.
I do enjoy walking with friends but it’s probably more the social time that I enjoy than the walking.
Yes I did, well I imagined it, I’m not sure if I thought I would, I have always been very goal driven so knew what I wanted to achieve and was always looking for what else I could do to support that.
Sometimes it changed but I have always felt if you commit to something and set a clear goal, give it 100% then you will achieve it.
By being passionate about the positive impact we have on our learners, but also it is about being authentic and supporting each other. If people believe and trust the journey that you are taking them on as a leader, then they will go on it with you.
Work has started on a world-class training centre in Sheepfolds.
December 4, 2023
EPNE has confirmed the local contractors who will deliver the next phase of a multi-million-pound investment plan.
July 28, 2023
A Sunderland College Games, Animation and VFX student Lily Roadley, shortlisted for a BAFTA Young Game Designer award.
July 5, 2023
Our achievement rates are well above the national average.
We are the College of the Year.
(*Top college nationally for BTECs, Pearson 2019)
100% of our HND and HNC students progressed to employment or further study.
(*Destination data, academic year 2016/17, HNC 19+)
We have recently invested £50 million in our facilities.