The Scottish Executive has confirmed it is to abandon plans to create a leadership academy for teachers. Peter Peacock, Education Minister, has decided instead to develop a broader programme of leadership that will involve the collaboration of key groups.
Mr Peacock has pledged that leadership will remain at the top of the agenda for reform.
The disclosure that the leadership academy proposed as part of plans for "ambitious, excellent schools" will no longer go ahead is revealed in a consultation paper, published today (Friday), outlining proposals for developing a leadership programme.
It states that, since publication of the Ambitious, Excellent Schools blueprint, thinking has developed in the Executive and that it will now be looking to pull together all the available support and resources, build on existing work already being done in schools and elsewhere and look to other countries for new ideas.
Mr Peacock said: "Strong, high performing schools need the most effective leaders we can get. We simply have not done enough in past generations to invest in the leaders and potential leaders of our schools, and yet they fill the most pivotal and important role."
Ministers had planned to appoint an pound;80,000 chief executive for the leadership academy but now intend to appoint someone to head the network of groups involved in the new project. It was announced in April that a joint venture to develop educational leadership would involve the Executive and the Hunter Foundation, which will provide funding of pound;2.5 million over five years.
The document on leadership issued this week signals that there will be a series of seminars and other events to help shape the ideas further.
It states: "It is more appropriate now to describe the leadership agenda set out in Ambitious, Excellent Schools in terms of building a broad programme of leadership development within Scottish education, rather than establishing a single institution such as many people imagined a 'leadership academy' might be.
"This broad programme will aim to bring coherence and connection to the many projects and initiatives already under way as well as provide a context for future innovation."
The Executive points out that, increasingly, effective leadership is understood as being about more than the actions, beliefs or qualities of a single individual and includes the contribution many people make. This, it says, raises important questions of how to identify and develop the leadership capacities which contribute to successful schools and which are needed for the future, though it acknowledges these are not always easy questions to answer.
The key initial priorities are: developing headship and other key leadership roles; leading school transformation and improvement; leading and managing initiatives on integrated children's services; leading teaching and learning; and leading broader educational communities such as those in Glasgow and East Ayrshire.
The Executive hopes teachers and other professionals will increasingly work in coaching and mentoring roles in which they provide support and challenges for colleagues. It also wants to see a growing collaboration between schools, authorities and other educational partners that contributes to developing leadership capacity.