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Heads count

Where now for the Scottish Qualification for Headship? Your report on the training for aspiring heads being offered by South Ayrshire (November 19) surely reflects current attitudes towards the importance of attaining the SQH prior to headship.

This is reinforced by the responses from Tony Finn, chief executive of GTC Scotland, and Maureen McKenna, Glasgow's director of education. When asked if they thought achieving the qualification was a prerequisite for headship, they said it was not. So with few applicants for each post, why bother with the expense and time the SQH demands?

We also ignore at our peril the evidence of the report by Professor John MacBeath and his team, The Recruitment and Retention of Headteachers in Scotland. Although commissioned by the Scottish Government, it has been buried. Some evidence suggests that many heads feel ill-prepared for the complexities of their job, particularly with conflict and the "messy" aspects that require high levels of people skills and negotiation.

If leadership in schools is important, why are we are giving mixed messages to future heads and diluting even further current training needs? The Scottish Government, through the GTC, should be clear in its commitment to high-level, academic and experiential training prior to appointment.

The formation of a Scottish College for School Leaders, under the auspices of the GTCS, would be a step in the right direction.

Gordon Smith, Milngavie Road, Glasgow.

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