New teachers should be bold and look for leadership positions as soon as they start working in schools, Fiona Hyslop has urged.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education made the claim as she pinpointed the "huge untapped leadership potential" among teachers early in their careers. "I would urge you to go into your first job with ambitious thoughts," said Mrs Hyslop at an Edinburgh ceremony for newly qualified teachers, organised by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.
"I'm not suggesting you take over from the headteacher within the first couple of years, but do think seriously about the contribution you can make to the leadership of your school from the outset. It's never too soon to be thinking about wider leader-ship responsibilities."
Mrs Hyslop said she had recently addressed an audience that included 50 or 60 headteachers and several senior local authority figures. Many, she said, were "beginning to realise that there is a huge untapped leadership potential among teachers early in their career".
She added: "I would urge you not to shy away from any such opportunities that arise, so that you can develop your leadership involvement in the school from the outset, so that you feel comfortable in such roles and, in due course, feel equipped to take on more demanding leadership roles in your schools and authorities."
John Mulgrew, Learning and Teaching Scotland chairman, said: "I am very positive about leadership permeating educational establishments, and I think it's very en-couraging to hear that, in her early days as Cabinet Secretary, she is talking positively about leadership. Most people think of it as the senior staff within the school, but I don't see it as that."
Judith McClure, convener of the Scottish Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society and head at Edinburgh's St George's School for Girls, said: "The sooner young teachers are able to take part in a collaborative approach, the better. It's a wonderful message to give to young people, to get involved in leadership initiatives and take forward small areas of activity in the school as soon as they can."
SELMAS is holding a leadership conference at Edinburgh's Murrayfield Stadium on September 7