The Into Headship Qualification

Leadership development is a key area on the national policy agenda in Scottish education and alongside a clear commitment to leadership at all levels within school, the specialist role of head teachers must also be recognised.

A consistent finding from school effectiveness and school improvement literature is the significance of headship in the development and performance of a school.

SCEL led the development of the new national Into Headship qualification designed for those aspiring to headship. There are currently seven university partners accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland to deliver the qualification. In our first year of delivery 145 participants from across 31 local authorities enrolled on cohort one of the Into Headship programme.

The Into Headship qualification was designed by a group made up of universities who delivered the Scottish Qualification for Headship, local authorities, Educational Scotland, GTCS and SCEL. It focuses on the specificity of headship and the strategic leadership role of the head teacher, and is designed as a 60 credit postgraduate certificate qualification at SCQF level 11 which, longer term, will form part of a Masters leadership pathway. On successful completion participants are also awarded the Standard for Headship.

The Standard for Headship lays down the foundations for professionalism and leadership required by all head teachers. It is a framework for aspiring head teachers and identifies key qualities that are required to succeed as an experienced head teacher.

The previous two routes to achieving the Standard for Headship in Scotland, the Flexible Route to Headship and the Scottish Qualification for Headship, are no longer available.

Qualification Aims

Into Headship aims to ensure aspirant head teachers are supported to develop and continue to build the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding required of senior leaders. The qualification is aimed at those teachers whose next post will be that of a head teacher, likely to be within two to three years.

It aims to enable candidates to:

  • develop and deepen the ability to critically reflect and enquire to enhance their strategic leadership practice
  • develop their strategic leadership and management skills in practice as specified by the Standard for Headship in Scotland
  • build and apply sound knowledge and understanding of strategic leadership and management practice and theory in the context of the role of headteacher
  • design and initiate a strategic change initiative which will strengthen the school’s capability for improvement to,
  • meet the Standard for Headship.

How Into Headship is delivered

The qualification has a two-course structure and combines a number of delivery approaches to enable access across Scotland:

  • Practice-based learning: the qualification seeks to foster a strong link between the principles of strategic leadership and practice in schools and so a major focus is the practice-based element where participants identify an issue or problem facing their school and build a strategic change process to address this
  • Taught elements: through face to face delivery, or through digitally-mediated taught sessions where the focus is on developing knowledge and critical analysis and on building social and collaborative learning
  • Directed study: with set reading, online study tasks, reflective activities and short school-based tasks involving exploring practice
  • Social cohort learning: collaborative tasks through workshops on taught elements and online, particularly through the use of forums. Collaborative learning and the building of networks are an important element in the development of aspiring and newly appointed head teachers
  • Experiential pedagogies: an important outcome of this qualification is the building of leadership capacity and capability. The evaluation and review of the previous national qualifications highlighted the potency of mentoring and coaching methodologies in leadership development, both for aspirant head teachers and for their role in building leadership capability in their school. Set tasks in the taught elements and directed study components build opportunities for peer coaching and mentoring
  • Support from many sources including Coach, Headteacher Mentor, LA/Independent School Co-ordinator and Field Assessor as well as SCEL.

Into Headship – Coach specification

Into Headship – Professional Verifier’s Role

Into Headship – Headteacher mentor specification

Into Headship – Local authority mentor specification

Applying for the qualification

Following feedback from participants, universities, and local authorities we plan to open recruitment to cohort three of Into Headship early in 2017.  We aim to begin recruitment in February and close recruitment by the end of April to ensure participants are able to engage fully with the 360 evaluation process and access the online modules prior to the summer break.

In February, information about the programme and invitations to apply will be shared with local authorities and all stakeholders directly as well as through social media channels.  The updated application form, head teacher endorsement form and equality monitoring form will also be made available at this point.

We anticipate local authority selection processes will be undertaken during March and April with confirmed participant information submitted to SCEL by the end of April 2017 where possible.

Equality Impact Assessment

As part of the design and development of Into Headship, an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) was undertaken to support continuous improvement and quality assurance and to provide a framework for the mainstreaming of equality into all aspects of the development, delivery, monitoring and review of the programme. The report sets out a strategic EIA up to the point of accreditation by the GTCS and publication of access and application information.

Impact Assessment Report – July 2015

Next steps in developing the Masters pathway

Working with University partners, we have now developed the Middle Leadership aspect of the Masters pathway for the Specialist Qualification In Headship.  This will be available from 2016 onwards and awards a Post Graduate Certificate (60 credits at SCQF level 11).  Those who attain the Middle Leadership certificate and go on to achieve Into Headship will be awarded a Post Graduate Diploma (120 credits at SCQF level 11).

We are currently working with the design group to develop the third part of the Masters Pathway, In Headship.  This qualification will be for those who have recently undertaken their first post as head teacher.  Those who achieve all three aspects will be awarded a Masters degree.

SCEL 08 - Masters Pathway LHE040316

The Design Group now includes:

  • Ann Pearson – Clackmannanshire Council
  • Margery McMahon – University of Glasgow
  • Deirdre Torrance – University of Edinburgh
  • Neil McLennan – University of Aberdeen
  • Valerie Drew – University of Stirling
  • Joan Mowat – University of Strathclyde
  • Margaret Tracey – South Lanarkshire Council
  • Alison Allan – North Ayrshire Council
  • Jim Scott – University of Dundee
  • Rhona Jay – Perth and Kinross Council
  • Jackie Purdie – Glasgow City Council
  • Morag Redford – University Highlands and Islands
  • Lesley Whelan – SCEL
  • Jay Helbert – SCEL