WHOSE IDEA WAS THE QUALIFICATION?
Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, announced at the 1995 Conservative Party Conference that there would be a national qualification for headship. The task of developing it was given to the Teacher Training Agency.
WHO ELSE IS IN FAVOUR?
The National Association of Head Teachers, the Secondary Heads Association, Tony Blair, and the National Commission on Education.
WHAT IS IT FOR?
To provide aspiring heads with the skills, knowledge and qualities needed to lead a locally managed school and to assure governors that those they appoint can dothe job.
HOW WILL IT BE RUN?
There will be 11 regional assessment centres and regional training and development centres. In some areas the two functions will be combined.
WHO WILL BE RUNNING THE COURSES?
The centres will be run by groups and institutions that have successfully tendered for the work - local authorities, educational management centres, higher education institutions. Most centres are regional, each covering between 4 and 17 local authorities. However, candidates will not be tied to their own local centre.
WILL THERE BE A NATIONAL AUTHORITY?
For equality of access there will be one extra centre, both for training and for assessment, which is not regional but which will offer "supported open learning" to candidates nation-wide. This will be run by the NAHT and the Open University.
ARE THERE ANY PROBLEM AREAS?
There are issues to watch, the TTA says, but it is aware of them: equality of access across the country; ensuring consistency of standards between the various regions; providing training and assessment of the higher-order leadership qualities; and how governors will respond.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO QUALIFY?
A maximum of three years, although, the TTA says: "It will be possible to gain the qualification within a year for experienced teachers who are close to headship."
DOES THIS MEAN GOVERNORS CAN ONLY APPOINT QUALIFIED HEADS?
Governors will still be free to appoint the best person for the jobHow much emphasis they give to the NPQH will be up to them.
WHAT ABOUT EXISTING HEADS?
The Headteachers' Learning and Management Programme (Headlamp) is for those newly appointed. It provides schools with a Pounds 2,500 voucher to spend on agreed support and training for new heads. Schools with established heads have to fund their own management training and may do so from their Grant for Education Support and Training (GEST).