Importantly respect for professionalism is something that has to be shared between teachers and headteachers - not just between Government and headteachers.
That is a big test for you in the context of assessment in Curriculum for Excellence - particularly in relation to literacy and numeracy in primary, where teachers will be expected to use the National Assessment Resource, developed by professionals, implemented by professionals and quality assured by professionals.
There may be a number of ways in which headteachers can be empowered to meet those demands. East Lothian Council, for example, is exploring a proposal that would bring local primary and secondary schools together in clusters under community-led boards. The proposals are at an early stage but represent an interesting suggestion of a way to achieve community empowerment.
Let's be quite clear, however, that these ideas need to balance the pressures on school leaders. You and your colleagues' focus must be on leading in learning and teaching. That role is paramount.
Different structures may work in different areas and I do not, at this point in the debate, wish to dictate those centrally. However what I do insist on is that, whatever the approach, we see headteachers enabled to work with their staff and wider community to instill excellence at the heart of every strand of learning and teaching.
I've had many opportunities to discuss how we can do that at first hand with colleagues around the country. It was also a key focus of the national events for headteachers that the Scottish Government has held this year.
In March, for the first time in memory, all secondary heads in Scotland were invited to come together at Celtic Park. More than 250 were able to attend. In addition over 1300 people have attended the five subsequent events around the country for primary and early years leaders.
I get a clear sense from those discussions that there is a growing, shared understanding that the vision for professional leadership that I've just outlined is right.
However if there are barriers in your way you need to tell me what they are and I will try to remove them.
Part of our collective responsibility is to engage in a critical debate about leadership and professional responsibility in education. That dialogue needs to be based on evidence and I was very pleased to see the publication earlier this week of HMIE's report "Improving teaching, improving learning".
This is an important and timely document. It gives clear messages that will be useful to local authorities and schools as they continue to develop the professional ethos that will underpin the successful implementation of Curriculum for Excellence.
I want to take a few moments to set out my views on some of the key messages from the report, which include reference to continuing professional development [CPD], collegiality and Chartered Teachers.
In relation to CPD, the report strongly reinforces its central importance. It confirms that much is going on and that it is increasingly focused on the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. It makes the point that CPD needs to achieve the greatest impact on outcomes for children and young people and so needs to make the most effective use of time, expertise and resources.
It recognises that often the most effective CPD is that where teachers are collegiately working with their colleagues, with a focus on children's learning. When they do this, they need to be open to learn from others, including from local and international evidence of successful practice.
Though it is of course not cost-free, the message is clear that approaches like that are often the most effective - both in terms of cost and the impact that they have in changing practice.
It remains the responsibility of local authorities to resource CPD. The Government has reinforced that message as I and my Ministerial colleagues have met with senior councillors and officials from each and every local authority over the course of the last nine months.
The Scottish Government for its part has delivered what it can to add capacity to the system, in particular enabling the extra in-service day and putting in place four million pounds [pound;4 million] for the 100 extra teachers for Curriculum for Excellence.
However I am keen that, above all else, we focus on outcomes from CPD. It is the responsibility of everyone to make sure that we are able to demonstrate impact - improved learning and teaching and so improved outcomes for learners - from CPD.
I am glad that we will be able to further develop approaches to CPD in an environment that is positive and forward-looking - including promising examples of how `Glow' can be used.
The report also gives very positive messages about collegiality in schools. It provides evidence that many teachers are becoming more open to learning from the best of each other's practice. Although individuals should be responsible for their own CPD as professionals, we need a more structured approach by headteachers to shaping the abilities of their teams.
Improved collegiality indicates that we increasingly have a shared agenda and that stands us in good stead for what will undoubtedly be challenging times ahead as the impact of the pound;500 million cuts from the Westminster Government affects budgets.
It is therefore also important that we see evidence of the value of all the investment that we make in Scottish education and that also applies to the final area that the HMIE report focuses on - that of Chartered Teacher.
I again welcome the fact that the report found evidence of the value of chartered teachers in some schools. However we need to make sure that value is consistently maximised.
The revised Standard for Chartered Teacher, developed in partnership by the Scottish Government and GTC Scotland, has now been launched and is complemented by a very helpful Code of Practice from the SNCT.
Together these give much greater clarity to the existing roles of Chartered Teachers and provide a framework within which schools, headteachers and chartered teachers can work together to make sure that the contribution of their expertise makes the maximum difference for learners.
The messages from the "Improving teaching, improving learning" report are key ones. As Graham Donaldson says in the report: "The benefits of the Teachers' Agreement have yet to be fully realised. Successful implementation of Curriculum for Excellence relies on this."
I expect that schools and local authorities will use the report to gauge their own progress and areas for development and address its recommendations.
The messages are clear - that's not in the main about money. Effective CPD is based on evidence, is about teachers working with other teachers and is focused on making an impact on each learner's progress. You have a key role in making sure that's the case in your schools.
Local authorities also need to look to what they can do to maintain and build that capacity. You can be assured that I will continue to press them to do so.
We know that Curriculum for Excellence will increasingly make different demands on Scotland's teachers - that applies to CPD but it also applies to our whole system for teacher education in Scotland from initial qualification, through induction and ongoing professional development.
We face a time of change and one of challenge. Not least is the need to ensure the very best outcome for every pound of public spending. I believe that now is therefore the time to take a hard look at whether our existing system of teacher education in Scotland is as well developed as it can be to support the flexible, creative, learner-centred teaching profession we need over the next generation.
I'm therefore very pleased to be able to announce today that I am setting up a review to consider the best arrangements for the full continuum of teacher education in Scotland.
The review will consider initial teacher education, induction and professional development and the interaction between them. This recognises that a teacher's professional development does not end at graduation or at the end of induction but continues throughout his or her career.
Here are some of the key questions that I expect the review to address:
- What kinds of teachers do we want teacher education to develop?
- What model of teacher education is right moving forward?
- How do we organise the initial qualification, induction and professional development of teachers in a way that is coherent and effective?
Those are some of the major questions facing us and I want them to be given the fullest consideration. Let me be clear that this is a fundamental review. We owe it to Scotland's pupils to make sure that nothing is off the table and nothing definitely on it.
We also need to make sure that this review is inclusive - that every stakeholder is fully engaged. The review must also be evidence based and I want it to take account of experience, evidence and best practice from Scotland but also from across the world.
We therefore need one of the biggest hitters in Scottish education to take on this task.
I'm therefore delighted to also be able to announce today that Graham Donaldson, shortly retiring from his role as Her Majesty's Senior Chief Inspector, will lead the Review, reporting directly to Ministers.
The review will begin in January 2010 and will report by the autumn of 2010. The timescale for implementation of the review's conclusions will be determined by the nature of the conclusions themselves.
That will be a crucial piece of work and I look forward to its conclusions. In parallel with that we also need to address other immediate concerns.
Headteachers play a key role in developing the profession and it is important that, as we look at how we develop a profession of leaders, we reflect on the particular position of headteachers themselves.
As you will know, we recently published another useful source of evidence on these issues - a research report on the recruitment and retention of headteachers in Scotland.
The report raises a number of concerns and it is important that we hear those. It should not be the case that the predominant picture of the headteacher role is a lonely one.
It is undeniable that there are pressures and issues in balancing work and life for headteachers. Local authorities, as the employers, do need to carefully consider their support for the welfare of all their staff.
There are also clear messages for you and your colleagues in this report.
I was struck by the fact that, where headteachers are able to cope best with the pressures, it is through a greater sense of collegiate working and being able to develop a strong leadership team across their school. In other words, it is important that headteachers don't end up being their own worst enemy by trying to bear their responsibilities alone.
Current headteachers need to ensure that they are developing people into leadership roles within their schools. Local authorities need to ensure that there are clear pathways to more formal leadership posts. The message from this report is that that is not happening consistently enough.
I expect my officials to quickly take forward discussion with a range of other partners, on how these issues are addressed. Given that the report's recommendations were in the main directed to local authorities, we do need to ensure a partnership approach to those discussions.
The aim should be a culture change that sees headteachers genuinely developing leadership teams and local authorities supporting them with improved pathways for development as teacher leaders grow in experience and perhaps start to aspire to formal leadership roles.
The Scottish Government will continue to play its part in those developments, providing support and assistance where possible and I know that SLS will, of course, also be involved.
Over the last few weeks we've had wide ranging and very public debates about the place of schools in our society and the roles of local authorities, headteachers and Government.
It is right that we continue that dialogue. If we are to achieve our vision of an education system that is genuinely the best in the world we have to guard at all times against complacency and the stifling conformity of received wisdom.
It has to be founded on genuine evidence and I've already dealt with some of the misinformation that has characterised the debates of the last few weeks.
Instead I want, in conclusion, to return to one fact that gets to the heart of what it means to be a headteacher in our society. It's again a message from the recruitment and retention research report and it tells us that an overwhelming percentage - 88% - of headteachers really value their role for the difference they can make for children and young people's learning.
That's a true measure of the difference headteachers make . I for one will never take that for granted.
We need to focus on building the role of headteachers to lead their colleagues in learning and really making that difference - all the time and for every child. Misconceptions, over-simplifications and scaremongering do not help us to do that.
We all need to keep our focus on the children and young people that we serve and I intend to continue working with you all to achieve that.