Guiding light for first-time heads

8th September 1995 at 01:00
Are you a new head, appointed to your first headship since April 1 of this year? If so, have your governors applied for you to have training under the Teacher Training Agency's Headlamp scheme?

If not, they ought to get on with it because, although the money can be spent over two years, the first claim for reimbursement has to be made before the end of the current financial year - not so far away given that training has to be planned and discussed at meetings, and that you will want to review the available courses first.

What is Headlamp?

A scheme, first outlined in a speech by former Education Secretary John Patten, to provide governors with Pounds 2,500 to train a newly-appointed head.

Which heads are eligible?

Those appointed to a first headship since April 1 this year. The money was originally to be available from then, but the scheme was deferred until this term. Heads appointed last term will therefore be treated as if they had been appointed this term.

Can my governors spend the money in any way they like?

No. The training has to be done by providers who are registered with the training agency. A list of registered providers which is sent to all registered heads is also available from the agency. Up to 20 per cent of the total funding can be spent on an assessment of needs, but at least 80 per cent must be spent on the training itself. The money is paid in response to claims for reimbursement. The minimum claim is Pounds 500, and if you register before January 1 next year, then your first claim must be in before the end of this financial year (April '96) Hence the need to make progress now.

What sort of providers will there be?

A wide range. Some local authorities will register, and some private consultancies will offer some or all of the required modules. The National Association of Head Teachers, which was quick off the mark in making links with a network of higher education institutions across the country, will be a major provider. The Secondary Heads Association's management training arm will also be involved, although their target audience, limited to secondary appointments, will be much smaller.

What sort of training will be provided?

The TTA lays down a range of managerial tasks and abilities. Some of them are very school-specific curriculum management, resource provision, liaison with parents and the community, defining aims and objectives. Others are concerned with leadership skills problem-solving, delegation, negotiation, giving a sense of purpose and direction. Registered providers may address some or all of these.

How do I know which of all these skills I need help with?

This is exactly why some Headlamp money is available for needs assessment, and why it is necessary to start soon on discussions with governors. The NAHT, for example, sees the needs assessment as being crucial if the Headlamp money is not to be wasted, and is offering self-assessment workshops to help heads see what their needs are.

I was appointed last Christmas. Can I join in?

No, hard luck. There is evidence that many like you will try in vain to enrol. There are firm boundaries around this scheme, but it is a start. In any case, it is possible that Headlamp will raise the whole profile of headteacher training, and make it more likely not only that the quality of training generally will rise, but that other heads, and their governors will be more willing to spend money on the development of senior staff. The Developing Senior Managers' Project, reported in The TES early this year, revealed that headteachers seem to consider their own needs last, if at all. It is at least possible that Headlamp will help to change the climate in this respect.

How do I apply?

On a registration form completed by head and chair of governors. Enquiries about Headlamp to the Teacher Training Agency, 2 Park Place, North Road, Poole, Dorset. BH14 0HP. Tel: 01202 715920. Fax: 01202 736775 The NAHT is running, through September and October, a nationwide series of 11 "executive briefings" on Headlamp for heads and chairs of governors (non-NAHT members as well as members) at a cost of Pounds 25 per school. Enquiries to NAHT Headlamp, 1 Heath Square, Boltro Road, Haywards Heath, RH16 1BL. Tel: 01444 458133. Fax: 01444 416326.

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