Revised standards 'not fit for purpose': GTCW

3rd June 2011 at 01:00
Council chief hits out: `They haven't changed anything'

A new set of professional standards for school leaders have been condemned as "not fit for purpose" by the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW).

The Welsh Government is currently consulting on the development of a number of revised and updated standards for educational practitioners.

It says the existing arrangements do not support current priorities, such as improving literacy and numeracy, and are not widely used as part of day-to-day practice in schools.

But proposals to refine the existing headteacher standards and redevelop them as leadership standards have been criticised by the GTCW.

Education minister Leighton Andrews claimed there had been "failure of leadership" throughout the education system in Wales, and said good leadership at all levels can make a difference.

The consultation document says the new standards are specifically designed to "meet the needs of practitioners who wish to develop their leadership skills at all levels in the education system".

They will be used to recruit and develop high-quality headteachers and to develop the leadership potential of other practitioners.

But GTCW chief executive Gary Brace said most of the six key areas of leadership outlined in the proposals apply only to headteachers, such as setting strategic direction, managing a school, leading teaching and learning, and strengthening community focus.

He said: "They haven't changed anything about the leadership standards - they are the existing headship standards almost word for word. The council is concerned they are not fit for purpose as they stand.

"We recommend developing something more targeted towards leadership at different levels of the school, not just heads."

As reported in TES Cymru last week, the role of school leadership has changed substantially in Wales in recent years.

The number of applicants for vacant headteacher posts has fallen and recent figures from the GTCW reveal a growing number of heads are working past retirement age and taking on responsibility for more than one school.

In an effort to develop future leaders, many schools have expanded their senior management teams and developed distributive leadership policies by delegating more responsibilities to senior teaching staff.

Headteacher unions NAHT Cymru and ASCL Cymru both said they had concerns about the proposals, but agreed they were just the "first step" of a longer discussion about leadership.

NAHT Cymru director Anna Brychan said: "At the moment they don't reflect the changed nature of the school workforce or leadership. But we weren't expecting substantial changes at this stage. This needs to be worked on very carefully and it will take time."

ASCL Cymru secretary Gareth Jones said: "We are concerned about how usable the standards will be in practice. They can become so huge and cumbersome that using them in performance reviews can be difficult, especially if they are used as a checklist."

The consultation runs until 16 June. Visit www.wales.gov.uk.

Original headline: Revised headteacher standards `not fit for purpose', claims GTCW

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