For some headteachers, the Columba 1400 leadership programme has been life-changing and cathartic. For others, the space offered by the six-day residential course on Skye has provided a much-needed opportunity for reflection. They have emerged renewed, their confidence in their leadership role restored, their sense of mission reaffirmed.
However, despite such evangelical fervour, the evaluation report into the Columba 1400 Headteacher Leadership Academy makes clear that further longitudinal research will be needed to evaluate whether it has any significant long-term effect (page three).
It may be that exposure to the wilds of Skye helps nurture the principles underlying the Scottish Executive's Determined to Succeed enterprise education strategy, such as innovation, creativity and community. That link still appears tenuous, although the entrepreneurial support of Tom Hunter makes it clear enough. But headteachers showed little awareness of it before enrolling in the academy and we may therefore be sure that the connection to enterprise will be lost on most others.
As the Executive prepares to roll out its full armoury of strategies for the creation of a cohort of sharper, more effective school leaders, Columba 1400 will be valuable in enriching headteachers' personal development. But, like all evangelical endeavours, it will be more effective with some than others and will serve as a complement to other leadership promoting measures.