LEADERSHIP in schools should go beyond headteachers to include teachers and pupils, the latest HMI report advises.
Improving Leadership in Scottish Schools, launched on Wednesday by Sam Galbraith, Children and Education Minister, says the best schools provide opportunities for unpromoted staff and pupils to display leadership. It sets out 10 characteristics of effective leadership and includes 16 case studies of leadership at its very best.
The 114-page report stresses that leadership from the head downwards holds the key to raising standards, a constant theme since Douglas Osler became head of the Inspectorate in 1996
In his foreword, Mr Osler comments: "The leadership skills of headteachers are particularly important but many other teachers have leadership roles in departments, curriculum areas, pupil support and in taking forward whole school developments.
"Effective leadership in all these aspects of the school's work can make a real difference to the quality of pupils' experience."
The most recent HMI assessment, from Standards and Quality in Scottish Schools 1995-98, accused 20 per cent of primary heads and 15 per cent of their secondary counterparts of not being up to the mark. Promoted staff were said to be effective in 85 per cent of primaries while senior management in 75 per cent of secondaries was praised as good or very good.
Mr Osler says the 10 characteristics of effective leadership, which are rawn from school inspections, make it clear that it is about more than efficient day-to-day administration. The report suggests that leaders must have vision, put high quality teaching and attainment first, set a personal example of "commitment and enthusiasm" to energise other staff, delegate decision-making, encourage teamwork and challenge teachers who fall short of the standards expected of them.
The report states: "Effective leadership is so important to schools that we need clear evidence that it is happening. We therefore need to consider in greater detail how a school can establish the extent to which these characteristics are being displayed by its leaders."
In a checklist which teachers may well feel should partially be applied to HMI itself, the Inspectorate says effective leaders must be "open to constructive criticism", have energy and drive which rubs off on others, "sustain teamwork through conflicts of view", "strike a balance between command, consultation and consensus", promote a positive atmosphere, provide sufficient opportunities for staff, parents, pupils and the wider community to make their voices heard and allow pupils and teachers to demonstrate leadership.
But the report warns: "Vision without a detailed grasp of the means of implementation may quickly result in a headteacher being characterised as having their head in the clouds or being out of touch with reality."
Leader, page 16