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Queen Mary Fellow comes out of retirement to help schools in disadvantaged area

Queen Mary Alumna, Fellow and Council Member, Bushra Nasir, has come out of retirement to lead Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust in Tower Hamlets.  Previously Bushra was the UK’s first ever Muslim female secondary school head teacher at another East London school, but that was more than 25 years ago.

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Bushra Nasir
Bushra Nasir

Today Bushra heads up all four schools – two primaries, an infant and junior school and Drapers’ Academy secondary school – as CEO, although she officially retired seven years ago. 

Bushra explains her decision:  “My inspiration for working as the part-time CEO of Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust was to use my knowledge, experience and skills to help four schools in a disadvantaged area to improve the outcomes and experiences of their students.

“Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust is co-sponsored by Queen Mary University of London.  Being an Alumna, Fellow and Council Member of the University and living locally, I am very passionate about Queen Mary.  I am very keen for the Drapers’ students to benefit from links with the University and raise their future aspirations.  Queen Mary has provided a five year bursary to a Drapers’ student to study medicine which will be a catalyst for future Drapers’ students”.

Bushra’s own education had humble beginnings.  Her early years were spent in Pakistan where she attended a school where the children sat on the floor. She could read Urdu but had to learn English when she came to live in East London at the age of eight. 

Having graduated from Queen Mary in 1973 with BSc Honours in Biology, Bushra looks back with some advice for today’s students:  “Make the most of your university experience.  Develop a passion for your subject that you are studying, develop good relationships with your peers and staff and extend your experiences.  The time at university goes by very quickly, do not have regrets!”

Soon after university, Bushra decided that a career related to medicine was not for her and instead she made education her life’s work.  She started teaching at Connaught School for Girls in nearby Leytonstone, where she herself had been a pupil just nine years earlier.  Her career went from strength to strength, not only becoming the country’s first Muslim female secondary school head teacher, but also being named the Times Educational Supplement Headteacher of the Year shortly before she retired in 2012, being awarded a CBE for services to education in 2003 and the ‘Asian Professional Woman of the Year’ award in 2005.

Bushra is now bringing all that knowledge and experience to bear in her post-retirement role at Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust.  She says:  “My days are now busier and very satisfying.  I enjoyed the leisurely pace of my early days of retirement but I was ready to try different ventures about six months into retirement.  I took on a number of voluntary activities as well as some consultancy roles.

“I have learnt that retirement means different things to different people.  For me retiring from headship at the age of 60 has allowed me to try a variety of roles.  Rather than doing one job as a Headteacher that I loved, I now do a variety of things that give me a lot of satisfaction”.

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