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Constructive improvements

I agree with those who wrote to you last week that the Scottish Qualification for Headship has proved to be challenging and transformational to many of the teachers who have successfully completed the programme. I believe that the programme is of very high quality and should continue to be offered.

However, it has always been the case that it is the achievement of the Standard for Headship that marks the readiness of teachers to be school leaders, and not the SQH programme. So in my input to the Scottish Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society conference on September 10, I suggested that for a number of reasons it was an appropriate time to consider the development of alternative routes for teachers to show that they have achieved the Standard.

Clearly SQH has made a positive impact on the development of many teachers, but this is not true of everyone. Many local authorities struggle to attract enough applications of suitably experienced teachers, and it is clear that the SQH programme is not regarded as motivating by all of those who have the potential to lead in our schools.

The success rate across authorities and cohorts is uneven, and in one authority there has not been a single successful candidate. Among those who have succeeded, there are different levels of preparedness for the role of headteacher. This can be seen in the success or otherwise of SQH graduates who apply for headteachers' posts. Put simply, we do not have enough teachers who can provide evidence that they have reached the Standard to lead our schools in the years ahead.

The writers correctly identify some of the elements that are present in SQH as excellent - "critical self-evaluation, development of a personal learning plan, situational analysis and the wide range of learning experiences". But they are present in a number of high- quality learning opportunities.

The point I made at the SELMAS conference was that, as we move towards greater choice and flexibility in the curricula we offer to our students, it is reasonable to consider also issues of choice and flexibility for teachers who are interested in the leadership route.

The implementation of our national CPD framework and the publication of excellent documents such as CPD for Educational Leaders mean that we are able to develop exciting and innovative programmes of CPD for leaders at all levels in our schools.

I believe the time is right to look at this issue with fresh eyes, to retain what is best about our current provision and to bring forward creative and innovative responses to improve our leadership development.

Margaret Alcorn National CPD Co-ordinator Rosebery House Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh

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