Leadership training reforms could mix sectors. Karen Thornton reports
Senior teachers could find themselves studying alongside NHS and local government managers, as part of reforms to leadership training in schools.
The Assembly government is reviewing its portfolio of courses for aspiring, newly-appointed and experienced heads. It also wants to know if more needs to be done to support middle managers, such as subject leaders, and whether deputy and assistant heads should have access to programmes aimed at heads.
School leaders could also take part in management training being developed by the Welsh Assembly to improve all public services, not just education.
But there were warnings this week that experienced heads who have completed the leadership programme for serving headteachers (LPSH) are being put off from applying for new posts because employers are demanding they have the national professional qualification for headship (NPQH).
This becomes a requirement from September, but only for first-time heads.
Anna Brychan, director of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, said: "We are concerned about the way existing qualifications are being interpreted by employers."
Members had reported a handful of cases where NPQH was listed as an "essential" qualification in job descriptions. They felt unable to apply or that their applications were not being considered fairly, even to the extent that possession of the LPSH was disregarded, she added.
The quinquennial review of the national headship development programme was launched at a conference in Swansea last week. Key points included:
* NPQH: an external review will take place this summer and the course will be revised for 2006;
* professional headship induction programme: the Assembly government has pledged that all first-time heads will be fully funded for this course;
* LPSH: the current contract expires this summer. Alternative provision for experienced heads is up for discussion, and a pilot of a leadership seminar, developed by experienced heads, runs in May;
* an online community for school leaders: a bilingual pilot ended in 2003 and further development would require additional funding.
The review will take into account recent internal and external evaluations of all the major headship programmes, plus new national standards for headship, due to take effect from 2006.
Currently out for consultation, they include strengthening schools'
community involvement. David Stone, head of Corpus Christi school in Cardiff, has been seconded to the Assembly to help.
Education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson told the Swansea conference: "As an experienced teacher, he will ensure the outcomes of the review are rooted in good practice to enhance leadership and standards in schools."
The Assembly has allocated pound;1.55 million for headship programmes in 2005-6 and taken responsibility for NPQH and other leadership courses away from local education authorities.
Around pound;750,000 is expected to go on NPQH, with up to pound;500,000 provisionally allocated for further development of standalone courses for aspiring or existing senior management team members.
So far, 1,977 people have undertaken these "school leadership modules", on areas such as school improvement, but only 14 education authorities have offered them.
Moelwen Gwyndaf, general secretary of UCAC, the Welsh-medium teachers'
union, said: "Secondary heads especially felt that having good middle management was really important."