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Could you follow our leaders?

Agrowing corpus of literature acknowledges the need to develop leaders at all levels within schools. It is increasingly recognised that a model of single leadership is unsustainable at best and at worst creates a bottleneck for continuous improvement.

So, how do we encourage those teachers without a title to take on leadership roles and, importantly, give formal recognition for it?

Project Leadership is a course designed by Edinburgh City Council to encourage teachers to take on school improvement.

Candidates seek the sponsorship of their headteacher, as the teaching element requires their attendance in collaborative project planning.

Covering two days, the session aims to define the ethos of distributed leadership and explore leadership styles.

Practical activities investigate the nature of influence (below, across and above) and how to harness the motivation of others. Guidance is also given on the improvement and goal setting. The teaching element provides a taster of themes that the candidates are encouraged to reflect on critically in their own reading as they progress through the implementation of their project.

The hands-on school improvement initiative is expected to last an academic year and within this time further advice and guidance is given through on-site tutorial support from council staff.

At the end of the project, the candidate evaluates the impact of their initiative on the learning and teaching of the school and on their own practice. This forms the basis of the written commentary on the project and is authenticated by portfolio evidence.

The headteacher is also required to submit a report reflecting critically on the initiative's impact on the school and the candidate.

The hope is that this programme will enable the development of leadership skills in a supported environment and recognise the impact teachers can have on school improvement as they take on the role of change agent.

Bruce Murray is development officer for teacher professional development in Edinburgh

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