The changing road to headship

The route to headship is not an easy undertaking for teachers who have heavy workloads, so more manageable pathways are being considered. Raymond Ross reports

The Scottish Qualification for Headship is the only route for aspiring leaders to gain the standard which will become mandatory for all heads from 2005. But the Scottish Executive is reviewing the course to look at new pathways to leadership.

The annual turnover of headteachers averages 200 a year in Scotland and it is hoped that a pool of more than 600 qualified applicants for headteacher posts will be established by 2005. Some 240 teachers - mostly depute heads - have already achieved the standard for headship.

"The SQH is not a light commitment," says Fergus Millan, the Scottish Executive Education Department's policy adviser on continuing professional development. "It's a demanding one- to two-year course. It's a lot to take on for teachers in middle or senior management who already have heavy workloads.

"This is one reason why the ministerial strategy committee on CPD established the Leadership and Management Pathways Subgroup to review the situation," he says.

LAMPS is due to publish its framework and guidance next Easter, outlining activities promoted teachers should be expected to undertake. The implementation of any guidelines will be up to local authorities.

Judith McClure, headteacher of St George's School in Edinburgh, is the chair of LAMPS. She says: "We want to look at different pathways to leadership, flexible routes to middle and senior management and to headship.

"A young teacher might know at an early stage that they want to go into management. Or they might want to stay in class as a chartered teacher or simply aim for middle management as a principal teacher. These same people can and will change their ideas over time. So we need flexible professional development which can allow them to achieve the leadership qualities and qualifications they will need.

"We are trying to dovetail with the SQH a development programme which looks at project leadership, team leadership and whole school leadership."

In a paper delivered to the national conference of the Scottish Education Leadership, Management and Administration Society in May, Dr McClure outlined four potential leadership and management pathways: l an introduction to leadership and management, for aspiring and recently appointed principal teachers in primary and secondary schools

* a development programme for leaders and managers, for aspiring and recently appointed members of senior management teams

* an introduction to headship, for aspiring and recently appointed headteachers, and

* opportunities for educational leaders, for experienced and successful principal teachers, depute heads and headteachers.

The principles of good practice include development programmes to encourage staff to take charge of their own professional development; programmes that have in-school tasks and use local networks; mentoring; local and national accreditation; involvement of higher education institutes and the business world; flexible provision and access to programmes supported by appropriate use of information and communications technology.

"We must bring on young teachers," says Dr McClure. "It's a dynamic time in education.

"Headteachers must be trained properly in collaborative leadership and recognise that all teachers are leaders in the class. There's no place for the authoritarian figure now. Leadership must be participative."

Whatever the specific guidelines are next spring, one underlying principle for CPD pathways is that they must have an impact on classroom or school practice.

Mr Millan says: "Although the SQH is the only route at the moment, other bodies like universities, local authorities, unions and private companies may come along and offer ways to meet the standard for headship.

"Not only would we want to work in partnership with them but partnership will be one of the criteria that they will have to meet.

"We are trying to get away from the idea of there being one programme for everybody to follow."

Danny Murphy, the director of the Centre for Educational Leadership (SQH) at Edinburgh University, believes that, while the SQH has been a success, there is room for more creativity in the system.

"The Scottish Executive Education Department is going to loosen the reins a bit but how new provision is going be quality assured has not been stated yet. I'm not against opening up to new providers as long as the quality continues," he says.

"With 32 local authorities with different levels of expertise in different areas, there has always been an issue of the quality of access to leadership CPD. The SQH has evened this up.

"If there is to be a consortium of providers, the question will be: who does the quality assurance? Neither SEED nor the General Teaching Council for Scotland has the means for quality assurance. There will need to be a consultation period on this."

One thorny issue might prove to be the status and role of the new chartered teachers. It is already being mooted that chartered status could be a possible pathway to management, although the post-McCrone agreement states that chartered teachers should have no management responsibilities.

Will chartered teachers go the way of the old senior teacher posts which, although intended to reward the classroom teacher, became a stepping stone to promotion and to management?

"How chartered teachers are used is important," says Mr Millan. "There are 30,000 teachers who could apply for chartered status in August next year. If it goes down the senior teacher road, we'll have blown it."

"Local authorities will have to find ways of supporting senior management in schools which do not involve calling on chartered teachers to help out.

"That said, I don't know how you could stop it. It will happen. But it's up to the local authorities."

Mr Murphy feels that, in the short term, chartered teachers will remain separate from management if only because initially many will be mature teachers with no management aspirations.

"In the next 10 years or so, however, many young teachers will be seeking chartered teacher status as a statement of their professionalism and commitment. A chartered teacher in their early thirties will probably want to move on. It may even be that, in 10 years' time, school boards will look to appoint as headteachers only - or mainly - those who have come through the chartered teacher route," he says.

There are justifiable fears, given the figures, that the chartered teacher courses will not only prove more popular than the SQH course but that there might not be enough SQH applicants.

Mr Millan says: "Again, this is a matter for local authorities who are in charge of all CPD with the exception of chartered teachers. You have to assume they will invest in the right people. And all authorities should or will have to provide equality of access to the standard for headship."

With the post-McCrone agreement requiring all teachers from class to senior management to undertake CPD of quality and variety, CPD is now intrinsic to all educational practice. This puts considerable pressure on finding new ways of delivering appropriate courses and also on every teacher to maintain a portfolio.

"It's important now for teachers to have CPD because they have to maintain a portfolio in order to go for chartered status," says Mr Millan. "But you can only maintain a portfolio if the local authority is providing appropriate CPD opportunities.

"CPD is now intrinsic at all levels in education and local authorities must grasp this."

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