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Private School Head Tells Girls "You Can't Have A Career And Be A Mum"

Vivienne Durham said that teachers should be realistic about the existence of a glass ceiling in the workplace.

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The head of an exclusive girls school has warned her pupils that they shouldn't expect to be able to mix motherhood with a successful career.

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Vivienne Durham, head of the exclusive Francis Holland Regent's Park school, told Absolute Education magazine that teachers should be realistic about the effects of motherhood on their careers.

"I'm sorry, I'm not a feminist. I believe there is a glass ceiling – if we tell them there isn't one we are telling them a lie. Women still have to plan for a biological fact – i.e. motherhood," she said.

Durham said she decided against having children, partly because her mum was a professional and she saw how hard it was to combine work and home life. "We had a housekeeper and the people who had the best of me were those doing the washing when I came home at 4pm," she said.

Durham is stepping down from the £6,000-a-term school in January after 11 years in charge.

Defending her views in an interview with The Telegraph Durham and said that girls should consider pursuing a career instead of having children.

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"Some of them [girls] will juggle and combine everything and that will be the future for lots of women. I certainly want women to have that choice," she said, adding that society should stop being judgmental about women who go down the "road less taken" and choose not to have children.

"There are different demands and people have different capacities and you need to make the decisions that are right for your family," she said.

"If you're lucky enough to find yourself in a job that you love, it could be very emotionally fulfilling.

"I am not saying it is as emotionally fulfilling as having children but sometimes that means that the decision ends up being right."

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at

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