Development - Why future leaders are in good hands

7th February 2014 at 00:00
Headteacher `fellows' to share their expertise with the sector

Future fellows of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership will become "leaders of leaders", expected to share their knowledge across the education sector and support the headteachers of tomorrow.

The new college will "tap into" the experience of long-serving school leaders and use them as a resource, said Tony Finn, interim chair of the SCEL.

A paper on the pilot programme, published by the SCEL board, says that the fellowship - which is expected to be in operation later this year - will serve as a "form of recognition at the highest level for leaders in education whose status . is recognised within and beyond the teaching profession". Membership is likened to being accepted by the Royal College of Physicians or as a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

The paper explains that SCEL fellows would be expected to become "champions for leadership and the teaching profession and share their expertise in a variety of ways".

The pilot will involve 12 experienced headteachers taking part in a nine- month schedule of workshops. It will be open to leaders with at least five years' experience and a proven track record of leadership. Successful applicants will engage with policymakers and academics to discuss ideas, initiatives and research. Participants will also be asked to carry out an in-depth investigation into a particular aspect of policy.

Headteachers will be offered individual coaching sessions and will be able to apply for funding of up to pound;2,000 to support their projects. Participants will be expected to produce a paper on the results in order to share their knowledge.

"An important part of the programme will be the dissemination of (the results of) their work and participants will have the opportunity to contribute to SCEL sessions at the Scottish Learning Festival in September (2014)," the paper states.

Fellows could also lead seminars at local or national events. Such involvement would go some way towards tackling criticism that headteachers have not felt adequately involved in their own development.

"Eventually, we hope the college will be as relevant to teachers coming into the profession as to experienced school leaders," said Professor Finn.

Susan Quinn, former president of the EIS and the union's representative on the SCEL interim board, told TESS: "This project potentially offers a quality CPD (continuing professional development) opportunity for experienced headteachers and, if properly developed and funded, could have significant benefits in promoting good leadership practice across the country."

However, she added, "as with all CPD programmes, the key will be to ensure sufficient funding to develop and sustain the programme in the long term".

The creation of SCEL was confirmed last year by Scottish education secretary Michael Russell. The education sector had long been calling for a leadership college, but while some favoured a physical building, others feared the cost implications and called for a virtual college.

Last October, TESS reported that the SCEL would contain aspects of both, offering an extensive online database of resources for leaders and aspiring leaders, as well as a register of organisations providing courses and training. Occasionally, it will also host its own training events.

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