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Focused, but not too narrow;School Management

Phil Revell reports on the early progress of the new National Professional Qualification for Headship.

One man able to compare the pros and cons of a Masters degree in management with the NPQH is Mike Gledhill, deputy head of Westwood high school in Leek, Staffordshire.

Mike is coming to the end of an education MBA at Keele University and is just beginning the NPQH. Happy with the course materials and with the information he has received, he is following the OU course which was set up with the support of the National Association of Head Teachers.

"I knew NPQH was coming and hoped that there would be complementary features which would allow accreditation of prior learning. The compatibility is there in theory, but the work I have done doesn't transfer easily. The subject matter overlaps a lot, but the assessment is very different."

Mike feels that the Masters allows people to get deep into the theory of management - theory which may originate from business practice as well as the world of education. "You immerse yourself in the theory then move to practical applications," he said.

"But the NPQH is different. It starts with practical assignments, then you have to look for theories which underpin those situations."

Last year there was some concern from academics that the training agency would produce a one-dimensional qualification. The NPQH was variously described as rigid and utilitarian.

Mike feels that the NPQH is certainly focused, but he doesn't feel that the course looks too narrow.

"The NPQH starts with a view of the future," he said. " An attempt to secure the management style they want. Their question is:'how do we get people to that point?' "By contrast an MBA or MA starts with what has gone before - and lets people make their own mind up about what the future should look like."

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