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'Inflexible' headship course ripped up

The compulsory qualification for headteachers is to be completely rewritten after complaints it is inflexible and teaches many school leaders what they already know.

Teachers will be invited to give their views on the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) over the next year. It will then be rewritten in 2007, with a new version introduced in 2008.

Steve Munby, chief executive of the National College for School Leadership, announced the plan at the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders.

He said he was keeping an open mind about what the new qualification might involve, but expected it would be more personalised and would take into account the skills teachers already had.

"Some people have said it is a one-size-fits-all model," he said. "The new NPQH might not even be a course you go on. Teachers would ask themselves what their own goals were - they might need to know more about management or about funding.

"The skills which headteachers need are changing because of technology and developments such as Every Child Matters and extended schools. We need to prepare them for the future."

Since 2004, all headteachers have needed to have completed or been in the process of taking the NPQH. By 2009, teachers will not even be able to apply to become heads without it.

Most teachers take around a year to complete the qualification, which involves face-to-face training days in the participant's region and a two-day residential course.

The ASCL and the National Association of Head Teachers welcomed the rewrite plan.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that some of his members had complained the course "taught grannies to suck eggs". It could also be expensive for schools to fund cover for senior staff away doing the qualification.


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