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'You do all that?'

The Leadership Programme for Serving Headteachers is run by the National College for School Leadership on Nottingham University's Jubilee Campus, writes Stephen Hoare.

About 3,000 headteachers have leadership training at a range of centres around the country: Heads, Teachers and Industry in Coventry; the Quality Assurance Agency; the Centre for Education Leadership at Manchester University; London Leadership Centre at the Institute of Education; and the Industrial Society.

LPSH was set up three years ago under the aegis of the Teacher Training Agency, but then switched to the Department for Education and Employment when the training agency was given the principal role of teacher recruitment. LPSH is now part of a three-pronged approach to headteacher development: the others are Headlamp, an induction programme for new heads, and the National Professional Qualification for Headship, a course for those aspiring to lead schools.

LPSH consists of five days' residential training. In a four-day block, a head will get feedback from five colleagues on his or her management style, and how this fits in with school improvement. The final day is used to consolidate other ideas on leadership.

Heads learn to use a variety of management styles for different contexts. They also spend a year in partnrship with a senior management colleague from the public or private sector. This partnership is arranged through Business in the Community. At the end of the year, there is a one-day de-briefing.

Julie Wooldridge, training manager for Heads, Teachers and Industry, says the programme allows heads to think in new ways. "If all the programme does is give the head something interesting to think about, then it hasn't worked," she says. "To be effective, it needs to set up an inner tension."

Some changes are afoot in the way the National College delivers the leadership programme. The emphasis, Ms Wooldridge says, could switch to exploring different styles of leadership. "Businessmen have been overwhelmed by the jobs heads are doing," she says. "A typical response is 'You do all that? And you get paid how much?' " The main weakness of the programme is that many private-sector managers still do not understand that the programme is not the same as mentoring, and that the head may well have superior management skills. The programme's great strength is its "partnership of equals" approach. As such, heads will either be confirmed in their leadership style or be presented with issues to work on. "It's affirmation from an outsider," says Ms Wooldridge.

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