Head teacher qualification to be overhauled


The Department for Education has announced a major overhaul of the head teachers' qualification as part of the reforms of the national education system.

The existing qualification, the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) will be revised with the aim of opening it up to all prospective head teachers, allowing them to develop the best skills to lead their school.

It means the qualification currently required for head teachers in England's state schools will no longer be compulsory, turning it into a more exclusive qualification while the standards for entry are to be raised.

If approved, the amended qualification will be launched in spring next year, with the content of the course made more demanding with the introduction of core modules.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the ASCL head teachers' union, described the move to a voluntary qualification as detrimental to raising the status of heads.

"Having a national, professional qualification for head teachers has helped to raise the profile and status of school leadership in this country and it is something we should be proud of," said Mr Lightman.

"We regret that the government is making this qualification optional at a time when there has never been such great need for highly-trained school leaders."

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said that the union is unconvinced by the need for the major overhaul.

"Headteachers should be focused on leading learning and teaching," she said.

"We are concerned that making the qualification optional is a backward step."

Currently, all new head teachers within the maintained sector must have passed the NPQH.

According to DfE statistics, around 35,000 have attained the NPQH, with some 58 per cent of current head teachers holding the qualification.

Secretary of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP said: "We want to create a qualification for those about to become head teachers that will help them develop the key skills needed to take on this challenging and rewarding role.

"We also want to ensure the NPQH remains a highly regarded and sought-after qualification."

The National College will now work with key stakeholders to revise the content of the new-look qualification.

Out of five modules, three will be made compulsory and they will focus on leading pupil behaviour, developing leadership skills and managing teacher performance.

Trainee heads will also have to take part in both a school-based and a placement related assignment.

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