Heads' skills not suited to Sips

19th September 2008 at 01:00

The detailed findings of the independent York Consulting study for the Department for Children, Schools and Families on the impact of the Government's original 2004 New Relationship with Schools initiative ("Serving heads not so good at Sip support", The TES, September 12) clearly underline that serving headteacher school improvement partners have not been seen to be as effective as local authority adviser school improvement partners in the eyes of fellow school leaders.

This is important, and confirms the viewpoint consistently expressed by Aspect from the start.

We have some excellent serving headteachers in this country but, in addition to obvious time constraints on their ability to support other schools to improve, they are used to exercising direct line management authority.

They therefore frequently lack the modern `soft' skills essential to influencing other school leaderships, in the absence of that type of authority, in relation to vital areas of educational improvement. A different skillset is involved.

Given the brand new challenges for schools now posed by the personalisation of learning and the Every Child Matters agenda, the case for genuine professionalism in external school improvement activity, supported by specialist skills-based training, has never been stronger.

John Chowcat, General secretary, Association of Professionals in Education and Children's Trusts (Aspect).

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