Editor's comment

14th November 2008 at 00:00

The grand plan by the General Teaching Council for Scotland to investigate the "professional culture" of new entrants to teaching has had a curious outcome (p1). It is easily summarised: exuberant young teachers are eager to embrace change and, unsurprisingly, headteachers love it (heads lauded their "willingness to comply", the report notes). In other words, the findings are predictable. The real interest in the report, despite the intended emphasis on fresh talent, lies in what it has to say about leadership and experience.

Perhaps too much so, it constantly contrasts the "confidence and openness" of new teachers with "enduring professional norms" which require to be eroded - presumably lack of confidence and openness. While it pays occasional tribute to mentors and senior teachers for the encouragement they give new colleagues, the report appears uneasy about giving experience its place.

It is certainly remarkable that two outcomes of a report on new entrants are likely to be a better deal for teachers further into their careers and a Standard for Leadership, to be developed by GTC Scotland. As Tony Finn, its chief executive and a former head, put it delicately, there must be "more focused support for the leaders of schools" so they encourage greater collegiality and a better understanding of teachers' needs. The clear implication is that senior teams have to raise their game. It is sobering to reflect on the finding that, while up to 75 per cent of teachers in the study felt they were given recognition for their work by their peers, only 38 per cent said senior managers did so.

The president of Scotland's secondary heads, who met in Cumbernauld this week for their annual conference, has endorsed a Standard for Leadership, although with the aim of encouraging middle managers such as principal teachers to apply for headships. The report will provide them with as much food for thought as it will for new entrants.

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