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Labour pledges 'gold standard' headteacher qualification

Labour will introduce a new “gold standard” qualification for headteachers and create a school leadership institute to address the looming shortage of heads, should it come to power after the general election in May.

The current government’s decision to stop leadership qualifications being mandatory has placed headteacher standards “under threat”, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt (pictured) will say later today.

Just 194 candidates graduated with a National Professional Qualification for Headship last year, compared with 1,165 in 2012, and applications for the qualification have more than halved, according to Labour figures.

The party will also launch so-called leadership partnerships, where businesses will work with heads to improve their management skills. Headteachers are increasingly being handed control of multi-million-pound school budgets.

The proposals will be set out by Mr Hunt at the City Academy in Hackney, East London. He is expected to say that the changes will address the “slip in standards” overseen by the coalition.

“We have many excellent headteachers in this country, but under this government standards have been allowed to slip, with ministers waiving the requirement for heads to hold qualifications,” Mr Hunt will say.

“The lack of support for headteachers is a major reason why Ofsted has found that thousands of schools are now facing a crisis in leadership.”

With the help of headteacher associations and their members, Labour would establish a school leadership institute that would accredit heads with a newly created qualification. The institute would also be tasked with increasing the number of female and black and ethnic-minority school leaders. 

According to Labour, only 6 per cent of headteachers in England are black and ethnic-minority, while just 36 per cent of secondary headteachers are women – despite the teaching profession being predominantly female. 

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads’ union the NAHT, said he was “excited” by the prospect of an institute led by the profession.

Peter Kent, president of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it welcomed Labour’s “focus on the importance of leadership”.

Schools will be partnered with businesses in a further attempt to raise standards and, it is hoped, to encourage more of the workforce to consider taking on headships and other leadership roles.

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, said: “There is much that school leaders and the world of business can learn from each other to improve their day-to-day management and vice versa. Businesses have a major role to play in supporting school leaders to develop the skills demanded in a 21st-century education system, from managing large staff numbers to handling significant school budgets.”

Related stories: 

Miliband tells TES: 'We are offering a new beginning for teachers'20 February 2015

Miliband to issue 'call to arms' to bring back former teachers – 12 February 2015

More than 1,700 female headteachers 'missing' from England's schools – 8 February 2015

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