01 SES 09 A, Principals as Professional Learners
Globalisation, represented in the driving force of the OECD and in international comparative studies (such as the two McKinsey reports [1, 2]), and the tendency for policy to ‘travel’ across the world in an often unquestioning and uncritical way [3, 4], has been an increasing force in educational developments across the world. Strong themes to emerge within this discourse have been the importance of teacher professionalism and high quality leadership in driving school improvement  and, increasingly, a focus upon social justice [6-9]. Critics are concerned about a focus upon performativity, a ‘standards agenda’ that leads to a reductionist approach and a narrowing of the curriculum [10-13]. Scotland is no different in this respect and this paper will centre on developments relating to headship education in Scotland with a specific focus on the Specialist Qualification for Headship, introduced in response to concerns about a lack of coherence in headship education to that point.
Since the publication of the Donaldson review  in 2010, there has been an unprecedented focus upon teacher and leadership development in Scottish education, reflected in the establishment of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL) which has been a driving force in taking leadership education across all levels of the system forward. This has been parallelled with the introduction in 2012 of a revised set of professional standards for teachers, including a set focussing on leadership and management . Further developments have been the introduction of a Scottish Framework for Masters in Education ; the Framework for Educational Leadership ; and the aforementioned Specialist Qualification for Headship, a constituent part of which is ‘Into Headship’, the equivalent of a Masters-level Certificate but sitting at the mid-level of the qualification.
This principally conceptual paper will examine the drivers for change within the system from the international to the national which have led to the new developments in headship education, exploring how these are underpinned by contemporary understandings of educational leadership and changing conceptualisations of the role of the headteacher. It will examine the rise of social justice as a strong theme to emerge in headship preparation and trace this also through the professional Standard for Headship . It will also examine the implications of more recent developments in Scottish educational policy for education for headship. These constitute the Scottish Governance review  and the current General Teaching Council for Scotland consultancy on professional standards. The Scottish Governance review grants greater autonomy and powers to headteachers and schools and also develops ‘the middle’ – the layer between schools and Government - one of the recommendations of the International Council of Education Advisors appointed by the Scottish Government to advise on school improvement and policy .
The key questions which this paper sets out to address are:
- What have been the drivers for change at the international and national level that have led to recent developments in education for headship in Scotland?
- How are these developments reflected also in more contemporary understandings of educational leadership and the changing role of the headteacher?
- How is social justice represented within the Standard for Headship and Into Headship and what has been the catalyst for this?
- What might the implications of the Scottish Governance review and the GTCS review of the Professional Standards be for future developments in headship education, as far as can be ascertained?
- What are the tensions, affordances and constraints within the system that will either facilitate or hinder developments?
- What are the implications of the above for headship education across Europe and beyond?
This is principally a theoretical paper, although it will be illustrated by data from a cohort of students undertaking Into Headship aligned with a Scottish university. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the field nor is it intended as a ‘state-of-the-art-review’. The paper is largely concerned with examining the drivers for change leading to the development of the Specialist Qualification for Headship in Scotland and the implications arising from more recent Scottish policy for future developments in this sphere as a means of informing not only the Scottish context but beyond. The paper will be progessed via.: ➢ Analysis of a wide range of international and national policy documentation focusing on teacher professionalism, leadership development, preparation for headship, school governance and social justice ➢ Analysis of academic literature pertaining to the above plus a focus on conceptualisations of leadership over time and the role of the headteacher ➢ Synthesis of the above, comparing and contrasting perspectives, philosophical underpinnings and ideologies, drawing out conclusions and recommendations. A systematic approach is being adopted in scoping and deciding upon the weighting to be given to individual sources, using a set of criteria: ➢ The relevance of the source in addressing the research questions ➢ The reliability of the source (principally peer-reviewed journals) ➢ The currency of the text (principally within the past five years) ➢ The provenance of the text (international/Scottish). The wider literature is identified through the use of keywords (for example, ‘leadership development,’ ‘ continuous professional development’) and Boolean search terms using multiple operators on ERIC (for example, ‘continuous professional development’ AND ‘headship’); examination of websites such as the OECD; scrutiny of archives of key journals over the past five years but, in the main, an iterative process is being used as the paper progresses, following up sources in papers, reports and reference lists. Data is being gathered from a cohort of Into Headship students [N=30], capturing their response to class activities, focusing on the aims and objectives of the course. In addition, evaluation responses to the course which are anonymised cast further light on students’ learning on the course. These two sources of information will be brought together and a thematic analysis  undertaken to inform how Into Headship has informed and developed understanding of headship and the role of the headteacher, adding a further dimension to the discussion.
Initial work on the paper has established that the Donaldson review with its emphasis upon teachers as ‘change agents’ and leadership at all levels of the system has exerted considerable influence on the system but it has been the concerted efforts of a range of different actors around the table which have made it happen. The new qualification positions headship education in a different way from previous headship programmes in Scotland with much less emphasis on management and a much greater emphasis on strategic leadership and social justice. The headteacher is perceived less as the ‘charismatic’ leader, driving forward change and persuading people to buy into his/her vision and more as someone who works collaboratively together with all stakeholders within and beyond the school to create a collaborative vision. These are important developments and reflect different understandings of the role of headship in contemporary schools. The empirical aspect of the paper is ongoing and will feed into the analysis of the policy documentation and literature, illuminating the issues. Early indications are of a strong orientation towards social justice in students’ work and an understanding of the importance of a strategic focus, recognising the forces upon the system and creating the context in which they lead improvement. The influence of international organisations such as the OECD is clearly evident in Scottish Government policy reforms, reflected in the push for greater school autonomy, strengthening the role of the headteacher and, as described above, strengthening ‘the middle’. However, these changes will bring their own pressures to the system and it is expected that this paper will illuminate the tensions, affordances and constraints in driving forward these policy developments and the implications for the future direction of headship education in Scotland, in the process, illuminating the issues for education systems internationally.
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