Editor's comment

1st August 2008 at 01:00

There have been almost as many definitions of leadership in the last decade as Scotland has seen education ministers. Charismatic leadership used to be all the vogue; inspirational leadership has had its day in the sun too; and distributive leadership has become the latest buzzword, with heads expected to share responsibility with their members of staff.

This week, at the International Summer School on School Leadership in Edinburgh, the focus has been on "learning-centred" leadership and how people at all levels of the education system can contribute to improving how well pupils learn.

Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, has emphasised the importance of leadership in delivering her transformational agenda. She wants everyone from education directors to chartered and classroom teachers to play a leading role in bringing about the cultural change demanded by A Curriculum for Excellence.

There are plenty of examples of schools showing the kind of initiative and creativity she expects. But many others are still debating some of the questions that have arisen at this week's conference: what does leadership for learning look like?; how do you know you are being a leader for learning? Casting aside all the jargon, does it just mean being a good teacher?

We are on the threshold of a new world in educational leadership, says Graham Donaldson, senior chief inspector of HMIE. Technological developments will soon allow pupils to access lessons from a teacher in Delhi as easily as from their own teacher. So Scottish education leaders will have to show young people they can make a difference.

Amid all the rhetoric about leadership, let us not forget that HMIE's "state of the nation" report, Improving Scottish Education, finds there are still important weaknesses in leadership across all areas of education.

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