Redefining stereotypes by showcasing positive Black and Ethnic Minorities contributions, and empowering and inspiring the next generation.


Marva Rollins

I am…a visionary who believes that a vision is only as good as the actions that follow…

Who are you?

I am a visionary who believes that a vision is only as good as the actions that follow. I am a catalyst for change. I understand the challenges that face each of us and have worked hard over the years to learn, share and help others to define and action their vision.

What is your present role?

I have been a Headteacher for the past 24 years. I am a Mentor, Coach, Speaker and Trainer/Facilitator. Combined, these roles have given me the opportunity to self develop, learn from others and have a positive impact on the lives of children and adults. .

Tell us about your life journey so far. What has brought you to your current role?

I spent the first 12 years of my life growing up in Barbados where education was greatly valued and high expectations was the norm. My parents came to England in the late 50s and my siblings lived with our grandparents. We joined our parents in 1964.

I attended a Secondary Modern girls school, with its low expectations of all students and I left school at 16 and undertook a six-month training course as a Comptometer Operator. This meant I could acquire work in the finance department of companies, whilst the expectations were that most of the girls would work in factories.

The challenges of my generation are well documented and I faced all of these. At the age of 32, and a mum of three boys, I started a four-year B’Ed (Hons) course and started teaching at the age of 36. I immediately started my MA in Education.

Due to all the skills, knowledge and experiences I had acquired as Chair, Secretary or Treasurer of several Black and other community organisations, I was able to transfer these to education. I became a Headteacher eight years later.

I was the first Black teacher in that school, and I went in as the Headteacher. It is hard to document the challenges I faced in the first 18 months of my Headship. However, with the support of a strong mentor I overcame the challenges and after five years moved onto a larger school.

I have taken the opportunity to be part of groups of very powerful, confident women and men who offer support and guidance to each other. I would not want to underplay the hardship and challenges of this journey in this synopsis, but I remain optimistic and undefeated.

In your field of work, what has been your observation and/or experience of white privilege, discrimination and prejudices?

The under-representation of Black Leaders in education remains a concern. I have been one of several BME leaders who have led/lead programmes to address this gap. This means that we must be supportive of each other and not be isolated.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were younger?

I wish I had known that wisdom comes with age and that all I was going through would one day shape my adult life in a way that would help me to use my experiences to help others. Also that everything passes.

What advice or top tip would you give to the next generation of BAME individuals?

Surround yourselves with positive people and recognise that elders will tell you stories to guide you which may not make sense until later in your lives.

Value education in general, and know your history and heritage.

Have a mantra and use it daily to remind yourself of how great you are and those generations before you have challenged, and fought for your right to be here today.

Know that inequality exists and that you must join forces with others to constantly challenge this.

Give some of your time to voluntary work as this will strengthen you.

As you move up, look back and hold someone’s hand.

What song, quote, statement or image do you find most encouraging?

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. I have many quotes and images that I use in my daily life but this encompasses them all.


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.