Investing in the future;Letter

18th June 1999 at 01:00
I THINK your report (TESS, May 28) of the reception of the Scottish Qualification for Headship by the conference of the Scottish School Board Association gives a misleading impression both of the SQH and of the view of the members there. The points you refer to were indeed made but these was also very strong support for the SQH particularly from those in the audience who had first hand experience of it.

Training and development for teachers are widely recognised as an essential means of improving schools' performance. From what we know of the impact of leadership in schools, this applies particularly to headteachers. Therefore no one individual should be expected to take on the complicated job of headteacher without training before they take up the post.

I would like to stress that the SQH is not about passing paper exams. It is a very practical qualification. Much of it is based on project work in schools designed to help deliver real improvements planned by the school. Candidates must be able to demonstrate that they have the hard edged practical skills and competencies as well as the underlying knowledge and understanding required to lead a school. The SQH attempts to prepare people for future headship by supporting them in lead developments in the current schools.

Of course, there are costs associated with training although these costs should be viewed as an investment for the future. But the costs of training need not and most not include damage to children's education. Local authorities are alert to these issues and have been well funded for the SQH, not least so that they can respond sensitively and appropriately to the needs of school and candidates. For our part, we have designed a development programme which can be delivered flexibly with the minimum time out of school.

It is important that schools and education authorities select the best candidates for the qualification and for the best reasons. The evidence suggests that those candidates coming forward for the SQH pilots have good track records of service to their schools and can put their training to use on behalf of their schools and pupils.

Viv Casteel

National development officer

Development unit

University of Stirling

Institute of Education

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