The right stuff for leadership?

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
LIFE must go on, and the leadership report launched by Sam Galbraith (page three) was in the pipeline. But coming so soon after the Scottish Qualifications Authority manifestly failed in many of the qualities identified by the Inspectorate as essential for schools, the irony is painful and will detract from the messages in the report. The Conservatives even said that Mr Galbraith should not be launching the report at all since his own leadership has foundered.

Cynics may ask, with some justification, whether it would show leadership at this stage in a difficult school term for heads and staff to spend time reading and discussing it. Setting priorities is a mark of intelligent leadership.

One sees the logic: there is now a formal programme to train future heads in leadership skills. But since a combination ofefficiency and innovativeness should be displayed throughout a school, a reference of good advice and examples of good practice should be in every staffroom. Leadership skills are not the prerogative of senior management.

Yet many teachers argue the system is geared to producing efficient teacher technicians rather than self-starting professionals. Openness to criticism, a quality commended in school leaders, is not blazoned on HMIs' briefcases.

The qualities identified in the report are unexceptionable. Given a minute, anyone could jot them down. No magic ingredient is uncovered. This does not mean that teachers should avoid examining their own practice. We all need to be self-critical and, in the hope that we have an idle moment for contemplation, the Inspectorate has provided a handy checklist.

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