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EIS attacks system of 'superstar' heads

Headteachers who see themselves as charismatic figureheads, emulating the Tom Hunters in business, are no model for school leadership, it is claimed.

The Educational Institute of Scotland has warned the Scottish Executive against establishing a leadership system based on the individuals at the top. The union wants instead to focus on creating leaders across the school in the collegiate approach advocated under the post-McCrone national agreement.

Leadership must be inclusive, the union says, and "it most assuredly cannot focus on the qualities of one individual; even less must it glorify the qualities and personality of one individual.

"We reject outmoded concepts of charismatic leadership, which apart from any issues of principle, have shown themselves to be extremely ineffective in the context of positive long-term change."

In responding to the Executive's consultation on leadership, part of its Ambitious, Excellent Schools programme, the EIS says it believes some heads and others in senior management appear to have "internalised such notions" of the charismatic leader. Any suggestion that such successful heads can mentor others will merely "reproduce 'clones' of an approved system", it continues.

The union is also highly sceptical about leadership training such as the ministerial-backed Columba 1400 programme, although it does not name it. It said it was important any full evaluation must recognise any negative impacts in schools, "whether these are in terms of financial costs, stress, excessive workload, internal division, or exclusion for certain groups of young people".

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