Select Committee on Education and Employment Ninth Report



The National Professional Qualification for Headteachers

125. We welcome the introduction of the NPQH and the Government's commitment to provide increased funding for the qualification . This is an important development which could have a major impact on the quality of headteachers in the future. A high quality scheme of this sort will also play a key role in school improvement, as both candidates and successfully qualified staff will be able to bring a wider range of knowledge and expertise to their school. However, we were impressed by the evidence that the NPQH might be too rigid to be appropriate for the various different kinds of headship and we agree with those witnesses who argued that the NPQH should better reflect the difference between leading nursery, primary, secondary and special schools. Both the qualification and the way it is delivered must reflect these varying needs, while recognising the core tasks common to all heads. Furthermore, headship is constantly changing as it meets new challenges, and the NPQH should reflect this—it must be able to develop and be updated regularly to take account of the changing nature of the head's role, and of schools themselves. For this reason, it is important to ensure highest quality of trainers—perhaps involving a wider range of organisations than at present. We therefore welcome the Government's commitment to take account of the evaluation of the initial stages of the NPQH and to revise the qualification accordingly.

126. In an earlier section of our report, we commented on the need to attract former teachers, with leadership experience in other fields, back into headship.[244] We therefore recommend that the TTA explore ways of enabling those who are not currently working in schools to undertake the NPQH.

127. We were presented with strong views that the Government's intention to make the NPQH mandatory for new appointment to headship by 2002 was premature, although witnesses agreed that, in the long term, a mandatory qualification was desirable. We agree that the NPQH, adapted along the lines we have suggested, should eventually become mandatory, but we recommend that the Government reconsider its commitment to making the NPQH mandatory by 2002 and give serious consideration to the likely impact on the recruitment of headteachers. In the light of difficulty in attracting candidates to the NPQH, we are concerned that there is a danger of exacerbating recruitment difficulties, particularly in primary schools.

128. We recommend that consideration be given to approving a range of qualifications which would be equivalent in status to the NPQH. These could include MBAs with a focus on educational leadership and similar qualifications. This would act in much the same way as the accelerated NPQH route. Accrediting candidates who had already obtained sufficient qualifications and experience would enable them to 'fast track' to headship without following all of the NPQH programme. The 'accelerated' NPQH could form a model for this kind of alternative route to NPQH status.

A coherent framework for headteacher training

129. Although the NPQH could act as a guarantee to governing bodies that candidates they appoint to headship have reached certain levels of competence in school leadership, we feel that more is required to ensure headteachers are well qualified and can meet the high and changing demands placed upon them. We have already noted that the TTA and its partners are continuing work designed to streamline the NPQH and to ensure it more effectively meets the needs of all candidates. We believe this work can and should go further. For instance, there should be a greater focus on the training of deputy headteachers and others in equivalent senior management posts. Such an approach might alleviate current concerns over the lack of training for deputy headteachers. This information could be fed into the NPQH programme and also form part of a Headship Career Entry Profile, analogous to the Career Entry Profiles which have been developed by the TTA for new entrants to the teaching profession.

130. We welcome the review of HEADLAMP currently being undertaken by the TTA. At present, as we have noted, HEADLAMP does not form a coherent part of the career training for headteachers and aspirant headteachers which the TTA provides. Currently, to have completed HEADLAMP training means very little beyond personal development. More widely, it is no longer enough for serving heads to have only ad hoc, mostly unrecognised, training courses. HEADLAMP should be better integrated into the overall professional development for aspiring and serving heads, forming part of the "school leadership journey" from senior manager to deputy headteacher and finally headteacher. There are three key signposts on this journey which could be matched to a revised qualification structure as follows :

131. As we have emphasized above, all training will need to be dynamic in the flexible, changing world in which we live. The replacement for HEADLAMP (the "NPQH Part 2") would draw on new headteachers' Career Entry Profile to ensure that their specific needs were met. Mentoring, for instance by other headteachers, and appraisal would be key elements of the training process. The school context would form the backdrop, with governors and LEA officers having an important role to play. This would relate well to the Government's declared priorities, as articulated in the work on Education Development Plans, in which leadership and management of schools is prominent.

132. There is an opportunity here to raise the professional status of senior leaders in our schools with national acknowledgement at key stages in their career. This could well be a strategy for helping to raise the status of the profession and therefore encourage recruitment to, and retention in, senior positions.

The National College for School Leadership

133. It is too early to say what the precise impact of the new College will be. However, we welcome any proposal that will enhance the prestige of school leadership and bring greater cohesion to the training and development of heads and prospective heads. In order to do so, the College will have to build on existing best practice, rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. We look forward to seeing more information about how the college is intended to work in the prospectus when it is published next year, but in the meantime we also hope that the Government will be able to give more details about the College in the Green Paper on the teaching profession, due to be published before Christmas. (We consider a possible long-term role for the College in paragraph 193 below.)


134. Support for headteachers is, of course, not the sole preserve of TTA-led programmes. There is a long tradition of schemes offering professional support and development opportunities to new appointed and experienced headteachers. Local education authorities (LEAs) have provided extensive support to headteachers although this role has declined somewhat in recent years. Witnesses representing LEAs told us that LEA support could include provision of training courses and services, the promotion of networks among headteachers and a "coherent local strategy".[245] In addition to formal training courses, etc, LEAs have developed other ways of supporting headteachers: for instance, Somerset County Council provides "headteacher support coordinators" who offer free confidential advice (in person and over the telephone) to headteachers.[246] Some evidence supported the role of LEAs: for instance, the NASUWT felt that "most LEAs provide good support for the headteacher most of the time",[247] and the NUT believed that LEAs were "best placed to organise and where appropriate provide support and training for headteachers".[248] The two headteachers we met in Birmingham were very supportive of their LEA.[249] Professor Brighouse, the Chief Education Officer for Birmingham, argued that his LEA was not intended to be an "exclusive provider": it was the LEA's job not to provide the services that headteachers needed but to secure them. The authority had to know who was available—the good consultants, the best people in the universities—and make sure the headteachers knew they were available.[250]

135. A common theme in evidence was that the standards of support offered by LEAs varied; for instance, the National Middle Schools' Foundation stated that support from LEAs is extremely variable both between and within LEAs,[251] and TLO Ltd stated that headteachers receive "variable but often valuable support from their LEAs".[252] SHA believed some LEAs were "outstanding", but argued that the greatest problem with support from LEAs was that the overwhelming majority of LEA officers or advisers have no experience of secondary headship.[253] This leads, as the NPHA noted, to some cases where LEA advisers have very little credibility with headteachers, particularly advisors who have not worked in schools for some time.[254] A few submissions, notably those from Technology Colleges, were more or less openly hostile to the LEAs. The Principal of the Beauchamp Technology College described her LEA as "an irrelevant nuisance which hinders our progress", and argued that its services were "outrageously expensive".[255]

136. More and more, schools gain support from outside the LEA or indeed outside the education world. The NAHT noted that headteachers now rely more on their professional associations (such as the NAHT itself) as LEAs' support has diminished in quantity and/or quality over the years.[256] This was a view backed up by a headteacher who noted the value of the advice hotline provided by SHA.[257] Mr Sahota, head of West Heath Junior School, told us that as a new headteacher he had turned to consultants outside education for advice.[258] Heads, Teachers and Industry (HTI), an organisation which offers secondment opportunities in the business community for headteachers, gave us evidence about the benefits for heads of going on such secondments. However they admitted that, unfortunately, the majority of heads had not been on a secondment.[259] SHA expressed regret that with the implementation of LMS, opportunities for secondment after a period of time as a serving headteacher has all but disappeared. SHA argued that carefully structured secondment would provide greater development for headteachers than current arrangements.[260] The NPHA noted that headteachers in the Far East are granted a one year sabbatical after five years of service and argued that this would allow headteachers to update their professional knowledge or undertake research.[261] The local authority education officers who gave us evidence told us that headteachers needed "mid-career stimulus and development", including opportunities for headteacher exchange, secondment and sabbaticals.[262]

137. Denominational schools have access to a range of dedicated support. For instance, the Church of England Board of Education produces teaching materials and other publications for its schools and works with the Anglican teacher training colleges to develop courses for teachers and headteachers (including an MA by distance learning). Some dioceses offer in-service training provision, sometimes in partnership with the LEA. There are regular diocesan meetings of headteachers. The Board of Education also supports the training of inspectors of denominational education under Section 23 of the School Inspections Act 1996, and has produced a handbook for such inspectors. In smaller LEAs, church schools have tend to group together more to provide each other with mutual support.[263] The Catholic Church, through the Catholic Board of Education at the national level and Schools and Colleges Commissions at diocesan level, provides similar support for Catholic schools.

138. Finally, and very importantly, many headteachers gain much valuable support and advice from other headteachers. Ms Putman, for instance, told us that other headteachers could understand what she was trying to do and why—they "understood the realities of the difficulties of the job" and she could be "really honest" with them.[264] Mr Atkinson felt that headteachers were increasingly "looking sideways to colleagues to gain experience and no doubt to pass on experience", rather than looking upwards to the LEA. Mr Atkinson believed that, more and more, heads would be looking for the support and services they needed from a wide range of sources—the LEA, other schools or clusters of schools, and private suppliers: "The best manager and the best leader will always, in a pragmatic way, look for where the best is on offer for their children."[265]


139. Currently, headteachers are appraised by two appraisers appointed by the LEA in the case of an LEA-maintained school; the governing body in the case of a grant-maintained school; and jointly by the LEA and the governing body in the case of a voluntary controlled school. Appraisal is intended to assist headteachers in their professional development and career planning and in taking decisions about the management of teachers. It is carried out over a two-year timetable. Appraisal includes observation, an appraisal interview in the first year and a review meeting in the second year. Following appraisal, the appraiser prepares a statement recording main points, conclusions and targets for action. Appraisers must provide a copy of the appraisal statement to the chair of the governing body, and, in LEA-maintained schools, to the chief education officer or another designated officer or adviser. Appraisal procedures should not form part of any disciplinary or dismissal procedures.[266]

140. A large number of the submissions presented to us expressed general discontent with the present system of appraisal. The TTA stated that "appraisal of headteachers has often not been effective in securing a link between targets set and school improvement" and involved an inconsistency about accountability to governors and parents.[267] The SEO/SCEO joint submission regarded it as suffering from being "externally imposed" and "operating in isolation".[268] TLO Ltd told us that headteacher appraisal was "not sufficiently focussed on increasing the headteacher's impact on the performance of the school" and had in any case "all but disappeared in many areas".[269] The NPHA stated that the appraisal process had deteriorated since its introduction.[270] SHA noted that appraisal has been a significant help for some headteachers, but too many had been left "wondering whether the considerable time spent by appraisers and appraisee could not have been more profitably used in personal development".[271]

141. There was a clear difference of opinion between representatives of LEAs and of governing bodies as to who should take the lead in appraising headteachers' performance. One Chair of Governors told us: "It is all well and good for the LEA to send somebody to appraise the headteacher but that person may not have the same vision as the headteacher so I believe it should be someone with experience, maybe a mentor for instance, as well as the governing body who appraises the headteacher."[272] The NAGM argued that appraisal should pay more attention to promoting successful partnership between the head and the governing body.[273] The other association representing governors, the NGC, also expressed concern about current arrangements for appraisal, and believed that the governing body should "play its proper part" in the appraisal process.[274] We have noted (in paragraphs 52-53 above) the STRB's concerns about the extent to which all governing bodies are capable of setting criteria and measuring performance against them; this is obviously relevant to any enhancement of their role in the formal appraisal process.

142. Many witnesses argued for changes to the appraisal system or for a new approach altogether. Mr John Howson argued that there was much to be said for team appraisal as well as the appraisal of individuals, and that appraisal must be undertaken by those trained to do it and at the senior staff level.[275] One of the headteachers who attended the informal seminar argued that the "360 degree" appraisal of the headteacher in place at his primary school, involving all stakeholders in the school—governors, staff and representatives of pupils and parents—had had highly beneficial effects on school performance.[276] SHA argued for the current system of appraisal to be replaced by a process of "performance review", carried out by practising headteachers and overseen by the General Teaching Council.[277] The NASUWT, differing from most other contributors to the inquiry, argued that the introduction of LEA development plans, OFSTED inspections, published targets and monitoring had removed the necessity for a separate, formal appraisal process for headteachers.[278]

The Government's review of headteacher appraisal

143. The Government has announced that it will consult on revised appraisal arrangements in Spring 1999, prior to bringing new regulations into force in September 1999. In January 1998 the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, Estelle Morris, gave some indications of the Government's thinking on the future of appraisal. For instance, she said that the "core elements" of the new arrangements could include an annual appraisal cycle for heads and teachers. The headteacher's appraisal could include at least one objective linked to the achievement of school targets for pupil performance and compatible with any performance criteria established for pay purposes. She also floated the idea of having the LEA take responsibility for arranging and carrying out headteachers' appraisal in conjunction with a nominated representative from the governing body.[279]

144. Although Ms Morris said that Ministers had no proposals to introduce an "explicit link" between appraisal and pay and competence issues, she stated that "in the case of heads ... it seems sensible that targets for appraisal purposes should take account of performance criteria agreed for pay purposes".[280] This theme was taken up again in the DfEE's submission to the STRB in September 1998, which stressed the importance of arrangements for salary progression continuing to be subject to annual review of a headteacher's performance against previously agreed targets.[281]


Support for headteachers

145. As with many other aspects of the headteachers' work, there is no single answer to the question of where heads can best find the support they need. Sources of support, advice and expertise are many and varied. They can include: other headteachers (whether formal mentors or otherwise), the local education authority, other branches of the local authority involved in the welfare of children, national organisations (of which the Standards and Effectiveness Unit (SEU) is the most recent and prominent example), other local education and training providers (such as TECs, FE colleges and universities), local churches, local businesses, consultants with a relevant expertise and headteachers' associations. Ways in which heads gain support, advice and information will continue to develop as ICT becomes a more and more common tool. For instance, the use of ICT is already allowing heads and teachers to access information from the SEU website, and ICT also allows heads to share ideas and advice more easily with each other, and not only with heads in their local area. We do not intend to recommend to headteachers which are the most appropriate methods for them to adopt: we agree with Mr Dick Atkinson that the best headteacher will always look in a pragmatic way for where the best is on offer for their children. What is important is that headteachers are fully aware of what kinds of support are available to them both locally and nationally and have the skill and flexibility to use them as effectively as possible. We welcome the diverse and expanding range of services now available to schools from the public, private and voluntary sectors, which has provided a flexible response to the needs of individual headteachers as well as a creative spur to LEAs' own support systems.

146. We heard evidence on the value to serving headteachers of secondments in the business world and elsewhere, and of taking time away from school to undertake continuing professional development. We believe that schools and LEAs should consider carefully the relative cost-effectiveness of allowing heads (and other senior staff) time out of school for such activities, as compared to staff having to "bolt on" training courses to their normal working day. This would not necessarily imply that heads should be away from school for long stretches at a time; a term could well be sufficient. Secondments in business could be built flexibly round visits of one or two days each month, with longer blocks of time during school holidays. We recommend that the Government, in drawing up its forthcoming Green Paper on the teaching profession, consider the feasibility of giving headteachers and senior staff entitlement to protected training and development time.

147. The LEA can play a useful role in supporting headteachers. LEAs are no longer seen as sole providers, or even as principal providers, of support and advice to headteachers and schools. We agree with Professor Tim Brighouse that LEAs should secure rather than provide such services. He told us that his job, as Chief Education Officer, was to ensure that he knew what support was available from all possible sources and to ensure that heads knew as well. This is not the same as the LEA making the provision itself. The LEA is well placed to understand what stage different headteachers have reached in their leadership career and enable them to find the appropriate support to take them on to next phase of headship or to accept the next challenge. Establishing what is available and ensuring that heads knew about it is becoming progressively easier with the development of ICT.[282]

The appraisal of headteachers

148. The evidence we have received shows that the current appraisal system for headteachers is not working effectively. For this reason we welcome the fact that headteacher appraisal is currently being reviewed by Government. In considering how appraisal might be revised, three issues need to be addressed:

  • who should the appraisers be and who should appoint them?

  • how should appraisal be linked to headteacher training and development on one hand, and headteachers' pay on the other?

149. We believe that headteacher appraisal should take account of heads' performance against the National Standards for Headteachers, the aims of the School Development Plan and performance data about the school in its widest sense.

150. The appraisers should be appointed by the LEA and the governing body.[283] As we have already noted above, the LEA can play a significant role in helping heads find the support they need. The LEA's role in meeting the aims of its Educational Development Plan will also be relevant, especially if appraisal is linked to the achievement of School Development Plans. The governing body's role is important: in the best cases, they work closely with the head and represent the interests of parents, staff and the local community. They will also have been involved in the headteacher's appointment, and we believe there should be a link between initial appointment and on-going appraisal. We do not believe that the governors themselves need necessarily carry out the appraisal, although individual governors may be well-suited, through their professional background, for doing so. It is the governing body's task to ensure that the aims of the appraisal are satisfied, and they can do this by playing a full part in the selection of appraisers and in working with the head to ensure that outcomes of the appraisal are followed up effectively.

151. At present, the majority of headteacher appraisal is carried out by other headteachers or by LEA advisers. Evidence has shown the value that heads place on having access to a diverse range of advice and support from many different sources, including other headteachers and their LEA but also the private and voluntary sector. LEAs and governing bodies should be encouraged to draw on a wide range of expertise in choosing the best source of appraisal for headteachers.

152. The appraisal process must be linked with a coherent structure of training and development, not least because effective appraisal will help identify headteachers' training needs. We have noted evidence that there is a limit to the length of time that heads can continue to have a beneficial impact on their schools. The then Schools Minister told us that he would like to change the culture so that it would be regarded as normal for heads to move on regularly.[284] We believe that the appraisal process could provide an opportunity for the appraisers to consider whether heads who have been in post for a considerable period might be advised to move on. Whether it should be directly linked with headteachers' pay is a more complex matter. At present, governing bodies have the power to award a performance-related pay increase to headteachers, based on performance against previously agreed targets, although many governing bodies have not exercised this option. The Schools Minister has argued that appraisal targets should take account of the performance criteria agreed between the head and the school governors for salary purposes. We believe it would be better that governing bodies, in agreeing targets for the performance-related element of the head's salary, should take account of the outcomes of the headteacher's appraisal process. (We consider this aspect of pay further in paragraph 188 below.)

153. We have noted the important role governors can play in the follow-up of appraisal outcomes. A role could also be played in such follow-up by more systematic mentoring for headteachers. Like appraisers, such mentors could be other headteachers, LEA staff or people from the private and voluntary sectors. It could be possible for the LEA to organise such a scheme, for instance by compiling a list of possible mentors, [285] or this could be done by the TTA, or the TTA's regional training and assessment centres, or by the new National College for School Leadership—which would be able to take a national view and could put heads in touch with mentors who were outside the head's local area (which might be useful for all sorts of different reasons).

244  See paragraph 100 above. Back

245  ACEO/SEO, Appendix 13. Back

246  Information from Somerset County Council (not printed). Back

247  Appendix 18. Back

248  Appendix 12, paragraphs 48-51. Back

249  See e.g. Q.727 (Ms Putman). Back

250  QQ.723-25 (Professor Brighouse). Back

251  Appendix 9, paragraph 4 (i). Back

252  Appendix 19, section 4.1. See also HTI Ltd, Appendix 7, section 4, for a similar view. Back

253  Appendix 4, paragraph 4.2. Back

254  Appendix 5, paragraph 11. Back

255  Appendix 26, Annex D. Back

256  Appendix 6, paragraph 23. Back

257  Appendix 26, Annex D. Back

258  Q.720. Back

259  Appendix 7, section 4. Back

260  Appendix 4, paragraph 6.7. Back

261  Appendix 5, paragraph 20. Back

262  Appendix 13. Back

263  Information from the Church of England Board of Education (not printed). Back

264  Q.720. Back

265  Q.727. See also Ms Putman, who felt "empowered" to decide where to go for the advice she needed. Q.727. Back

266  Education (School Teacher Appraisal) Regulations 1991. Back

267  Appendix 3, paragraph 25. Back

268  Appendix 13. Back

269  Appendix 19, section 4.1. Back

270  Appendix 5, paragraph 12. Back

271  Appendix 4, paragraph 4.3. Back

272  Q.215 (Mr Kiely). Back

273  Appendix 14, paragraph 8(2). Back

274  Appendix 16, section 5. Back

275  Appendix 2, paragraph 4.3. Back

276  Mr Howard Kennedy. Back

277  Appendix 4, paragraph 4.6. Back

278  Appendix 18. Back

279  Speech to the Seventh British Appraisal Conference, 26.1.98. Back

280  Speech to the Seventh British Appraisal Conference, 26.1.98. Back

281  Submission to the STRB, September 1998, paragraph 121. Back

282  QQ.723, 725, 726. Back

283  As is currently the case for voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools; see paragraph 139 above. Back

284  See paragraph 32 above. Back

285  The "headteacher support coordinators" provided by Somerset County Council are another example of how mentoring schemes can work. See paragraph 134 above. Back

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