Heads angry at mentoring role

18th May 2007 at 01:00
Estyn criticises government for not making leadership course clear

HEADS WERE not told they would be expected to mentor school leaders outside their schools on a pilot course, says a damning report.

Estyn - the Welsh Inspectorate - criticised the Welsh government's launch of the consultant leadership pilot programme after it emerged that none of the participants had gone on to deliver training to other school leaders - the whole object of the course - because they had not been told it would be part of their remit.

A cohort of 24 heads, with five years' experience or more at the helm, went on the course that was trialled in July and October last year as part of the National Professional Headship Programme (NPQH), after being nominated by their local authority.

Inspectors praised the content of the 12-day programme that is already used widely in England to support school improvement. The government-funded course was split between Llangammarch Wells, Powys, and Nottingham, England, with heads reporting back extremely positively on many aspects of the new coaching approach to their own schools.

But inspectors said heads, who were drawn from 16 primary, five secondary and three special schools, would not have attended if they had known they would be expected to train less experienced leaders outside.

Education unions this week backed the decision of heads not to work outside of their own school, saying they were pressured enough.

Gareth Jones, from the Association of School and College Leaders, said recent surveys had shown that, while the new workforce agreement had reduced the burden for classroom teachers, it had actually increased it for senior staff in secondary schools.

"This is something we are concerned about," he said. "And I can easily understand when heads say they don't have time to go out from their schools."

Anna Brychan, director of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, said that with 60 per cent of heads aged 50 or over, there was a need to ensure a new generation of school leaders. But she added that courses were very expensive and funding should not come from school budgets.

According to the report, LAs did not receive criteria from the government on the full programme. "The information should make clear the commitments and ensure heads are aware they may have to support other schools," said Estyn.

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