Leading to better things

23rd May 2003 at 01:00
Teachers at all levels of the profession need to benefit from new leadership courses, Raymond Ross reports

The way leadership, management and, indeed, all continuing professional development is to be delivered, especially following the Scottish Executive's current consultation exercise, will bring about a breakthrough in the quality and style of provision, says the registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

"The GTC will be the accrediting body for the leadership programme which will replace the Scottish Qualification for Headship," says Matthew MacIver. "As with the chartered teacher programme and the new induction scheme, we will be able to provide the same quality of provision across the country. This will be a major breakthrough in how we deliver CPD at all levels."

The plan is that there will be learning clusters for people at the same level of teaching, for those teaching the same subjects and for those in the same areas. The GTC will bring cohesion to the system and give the quality assurance necessary in a scheme with a large number of course providers.

Mr MacIver does not see Scotland developing a leadership college for headteachers alone, as there is in England.

"I am thinking in terms of a CPD college, which could be partially virtual, and the GTC would be at the centre of this. It would be for all teachers, not just for heads or aspiring heads," he says.

Along with colleagues such as Danny Murphy, director of the Centre for Educational Leadership at Edinburgh University, and Judith McClure, an Edinburgh headteacher who chairs Leadership and Management Pathways, a sub-group of the ministerial strategy committee on professional development chaired by Deputy Minister for Education Nicol Stephen, Mr MacIver is careful to distinguish between leadership and management.

"They are not the same thing. You get leadership at all levels from class teacher to headteacher," he says.

Mr Murphy believes there is a need for good leadership distributed throughout schools, with everyone having a part to play. But he is far from convinced that the Executive's consultation document Continuing Professional Development for Educational Leaders (to which responses must be submitted by May 30) clearly distinguishes between leadership and management.

"Leadership is not management," he says. "The document does not talk about widely dispersed leadership in schools. It defines leadership by management actions. It needs to be radically improved before we can proceed to develop people to fill management and leadership roles."

Mr Murphy admits the consultation document does show some progression from project leadership to strategic leadership, but argues that it does not provide an effective template and is not specific enough. "We need focused programmes on how to manage particular posts," he says.

A case in point may be the chartered teacher, a position which is not seen as a pathway to management but is seen as playing a leadership role.

Mr MacIver says the chartered teacher will not become a pathway to management "because these will be mature teachers making a positive decision to stay in the classroom and improve their skills and we will be rewarding them for the first time".

"It's a different thing from the senior teachers of old," he says.

Mr Murphy disagrees. "There can't be an iron curtain between the chartered teacher route and the management route," he says. "You can't expect people to make irrevocable decisions at age 29 or 30. People look again at their decisions in their mid-30s or 40s as situations, experiences and ambitions change.

"There will be a crossover between chartered teachers and management routes and the chartered teacher standard will become a staging post for some."

Mr Murphy also believes the consultation document does not cater for professional development for senior or middle management staff who do not wish to progress further up the career ladder.

"Where is the development programme for principal teachers who wish to remain PTs?" he asks. "Or depute headteachers who wish to remain as deputes? It isn't there in the document.

"Also, the four-stage model (project, team, school and strategic leadership stages) is seen to apply to new teachers and heads with 20 years'

experience. But their needs are entirely different."

Although the GTC's role in access co-ordination and quality assurance will be essential, Mr Murphy says that the setting up of leadership and management pathways in advance of this lacks a national perspective.

"It is ironic, but we are lacking national leadership in the way we are taking forward leadership and management CPD," he says.

"I'm not asking for the Scottish Executive Education Department to do it all. They don't want to be involved in delivering CPD. But we need more national co-ordination. We need a national shape, not 32 different local authority varieties. We need to co-ordinate provision across the country.

And we need a better rationale."

There is also the question of money. "In England they are spending pound;65 million on developing leadership in schools," says Mr Murphy. "Pro rata, Scotland might expect pound;6.5 million to be ringfenced. But I don't see that."

Mainly though, he sees the problems as lying with the consultation document. "It is not thought through," he says. "We need space for people to display leadership at every level in schools and this isn't addressed."

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