More chance to spread the word

Local authorities should be briefed on how best to tap into the experiences of headteachers who attend the Harvard Graduate School of Education leadership programme, an evaluation of last year's cohort has found.

It said there was a sense of disappointment among some of the 12 participants who, last summer, took part in the first Scottish residential at the American university, because their experiences had not been used to the best advantage by their authorities. However, on a personal level, the participants were extremely positive about their time in the United States.

"It was a rich learning experience," says Margaret Alcorn, co-ordinator of the National CPD team and facilitator on one of the courses, The Art of Leadership: leadership for large-scale improvement. "It has had a huge influence on those who took part."

This summer a further six delegates, including head and local authority officers, will be off to Harvard for an eight-day course entitled Leadership: an evolving vision. Working with people from other countries, they will refine their leadership and management skills. The aim is for them to pass on their learning through presentations at school and on local and national levels.

The 2006 cohort, who were a mixture of headteachers and authority-level officers, spent eight days on the intensive courses last summer. As part of the Ambitious, Excellent Schools programme, six joined Mrs Alcorn on the large-scale improvement course, while another six attended the Improving schools: the art of leader-ship course.

Since then, many have found ways to share their experiences with colleagues, including speaking at national conferences. But there has been frustration as some believe there should have been more opportunities to spread the word.

The evaluation also discovered that the other course members - from the US, Australia and Argentina - were impressed with the Scottish system.

"In Scotland, people have the opportunity to take risks and to apply their learning to their situations. There is a feeling that this is not always the case elsewhere, due to pressure to achieve targets," says Fiona Taylor, CPD adviser on the national team and author of the evaluation.

"Discussions during the visit also suggested that other nationalities were impressed by our plans for A Curriculum for Excellence and thinking related to this."

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