Remove the shackles

14th September 2007 at 01:00
Education Secretary to target job-sizing and funding to create leadership culture

THE EDUCATION secretary is prepared to tackle job-sizing and promotion structures to remove barriers to teachers applying for leadership posts in schools.

Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning told a leadership conference in Edinburgh last week that if there are "issues like job-sizing, functions and structures, they can be dealt with". However, the key problem to be tackled was the climate in schools, she told the annual conference of Scottish Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society.

She plans to publish a document by the end of the year on Scotland's educational leadership agenda where schools and authorities are, where they should aim to be, and how to move there.

Support for her plans to improve educational leadership came from an unexpected quarter Ewan Aitken, former Labour leader of Edinburgh City Council and the former education convener of Cosla. He told the conference that leadership in education was too important for party politics.

"In the spirit of consensus politics, if Fiona Hyslop is prepared to really focus on the leadership agenda and pathways to build leadership capacity in all staff, I will do everything I can to support her privately, publicly and politically to make that happen."

But she would have to rise to the challenge and "do the task", he warned. "If we can together make this work, it may be an opportunity for us to lead in more than just changing the face of education, but changing the face of political decision-making in our nation," he said.

Mrs Hyslop said the Scottish Government also planned to "liberate headteachers" from local government bureaucracy and remove much of the current ring-fencing of local government funding.

The SNP planned to put in place "outcome agreements" instead of the previous Labour-Liberal Democrat Scottish Executive's "micro-management" approach.

"A lot of what we are expecting from local government will be in early intervention and education," she said. "But we want to take off the shackles and agree with Cosla an overall funding package and then let local government get on."

As she surveyed an audience of headteachers and education authority officers, she told them bluntly that it was time to look for alternative styles of leadership.

"The leaders of tomorrow will not look like the people in this room today. Why do we have so few women in secondary head posts? Why do we have this age issue, with so many heads likely to retire in the next five to 10 years? We need to take a hard look at ourselves. Does leadership in school look like our wider society?" she asked.

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