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UK heads bid for international role

TWO English heads are competing for the jet-setting post of International Confederation of Principals' president, as school leaders from 36 countries gather in Edinburgh this weekend.

Nearly 1,000 delegates are expected to attend the ICP's biennial convention, sponsored by The TES, which is being held in the UK for the first time.

Among them are Sue Sayles, National Association of Head Teachers' past president, and Kate Griffin, Secondary Heads Association president. They are two of the four presidential candidates that ICP council members can vote for in tomorrow's election.

Also standing are heads from the United States and South Africa. The winner will become president elect in 2004 and replace Nola Hambleton, a primary head from New Zealand in 2005.

The two-year presidency will involve global travel. On the itinerary are three or four executive committee meetings a year, three council meetings, and the 2005 convention in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mrs Sayles, head of Riccall primary, near York, is highlighting her 20 years' experience leading a school, her understanding of the issues facing principals, and her worldwide contacts. Margaret Griffin, head of Greenford high in west London, wants the ICP to act as an umbrella organisation with regional groups in Europe, Africa and Oceania. Speakers at the four-day convention include Education Secretary Charles Clarke; Tim Brighouse, commissioner for London schools; and Christine Churcher, a Ghanaian education minister.

Delegations from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe will be depleted after heads were denied visas despite personal recommendations from the ICP.

Margaret Griffin, ICP executive secretary, said: "It is sad because these people long to come and be part of this international event. These are people I have already met and invited to the convention. They are bona fide school leaders."

The ICP had also had to write letters on behalf of delegates from countries including Nepal, Pakistan and Russia who had had difficulty gaining visas.

"There is no point being a member of ICP if you can't come to the conventions," said Margaret Griffin. "Mingling with colleagues from other parts of the world is the most amazing opportunity and is vitally important to emerging countries."

World Class, a special report in this week's TES Leadership, 21

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