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Tougher times for future heads

Willis Pickard and Neil Munro on promotion criteria. Teacher promotion in the future is likely to be increasingly dependent on the possession of relevant qualifications. Although the Government is still some way from making decisions, moves south of the border on headteacher training are likely to lead to a scheme in Scotland as well.

Viv Casteel, who headed the former Strathclyde Staff College and is chief policy development officer with North Lanarkshire education department, undertook a study for the Scottish Office on defining a framework of standards which would form a benchmark for headteacher appointments. Such a framework would encompass not only management competences but also the personal qualities needed in a head.

But before the Government produces a policy statement, fundamental questions will have to be addressed. Should possession of an appropriate qualification be mandatory for future heads? What should be the balance between training in preparation for a post and after appointment? Can the management courses offered by universities and colleges be regarded as compatible and therefore the basis for a national management qualification?

In-service co-ordinators report that more teachers are pre-empting decisions about training for promotion and are paying for their own studies to certificate, diploma or degree level.

John Landon, co-ordinator of the modular Masters scheme at Moray House Institute, says that some schools are part-paying for a staff member where the course work involved a study linked, say, to the school's development programme. The cuts in local authority budgets also meant that more teachers had to pay their own way.

Increasingly, Mr Landon said, teachers are opting for diplomas and degrees rather than the more limited certificates. In particular, the modular Masters degree gave them the flexibility to make their own choices in areas of study.

Flexibility is the key to easing the acquisition of further qualifications for teachers, a main principle behind work-based learning agreements at St Andrew's College. These allow teachers to be awarded credit for work they do in school, and could account for as much as 50 per cent of a module.

Bob Davies, the college's director of in-service education, says there will be rigorous scrutiny of the work-based element to ensure real learning has taken place. But he added: "This kind of approach will mushroom in the next few years. It has the advantage that teachers do not have to attend college or take traditional courses and all our evidence is that it has struck a chord with the profession."

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