The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Empowering school leaders

Education bodies welcome new empowerment for schools and headteachers

Education bodies are welcoming the new empowerment material aimed at maximising potential in collaboration. Empowerment, leadership and collaboration are key for schools, headteachers and local authorities to maximise their potential in coming years – that’s the recommendation from the School Empowerment Working Group in new support materials.

New support material

The charter and support material can be found on the Education Scotland website:

View the "An Empowered System" web page

The materials, released for all in the education system, highlight that mutually supportive, respectful relationships will make the most of collaborative efforts. Additionally, Gayle Gorman Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector and chair of the working group, has written to every headteacher in Scotland. A copy of the letter can be found on the Education Scotland website via the following link:

View the letter

According to the guidance in the agreed drafts, there are three key areas to focus on: taking the lead in learning and teaching; empowering the learning community; and ensuring the best use of each school’s resources.

But this guidance is just the first step in an ongoing suite of support, guidance and advice reaching parents, support staff, teachers, local and national government as well as partners and stakeholders.

The Headteacher’s Charter’s release comes during a visit from the International Council of Education Advisers who have previously hailed Scotland’s commitment to collaboration within education as “impressive”.

It also follows a report into Regional Improvement Collaboratives which highlights that overall Scottish school staff are very positive about the idea of learning from one another and welcome the opportunity to network, build skills and develop teaching practice.

Delivering the best results for learners

Gayle Gorman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector and chair of the steering group, said: “These materials have one simple aim – to let the best people at each level deliver the best results for learners. Progress towards empowerment should enable the system to be more responsive, decisive and agile when meeting individual and local needs.

“At the heart of this system’s change is the development of teacher agency and professional voice; and ensuring that professional leadership and reflective practice are key drivers for Scottish education. Successfully taking forward such an empowerment agenda will require universal engagement.

“Empowerment recognises that all parts of the system – including teachers, learners, parents and carers, support staff and stakeholders – have a role in delivering an empowered system for all of our young people.

Empowered culture at all levels

“An empowered system will grow stronger and more confident when we work in partnership to achieve it. As we move forward with the charter and later stages of subsequent support plans we should see improvement at all levels of the system. “Through collaboration, everyone should feel far more invested in the education system, parents and learners, teachers, school leaders and local authorities.”

Collaboration in action

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “These publications are the product of collaboration in action and I am grateful to all who have been involved in their production. They demonstrate a strong shared commitment to headteacher and school empowerment and an ambition to ensure decisions about the day-to-day life of a school are taken at a local level.”

A real opportunity

Larry Flanagan, General Secretary of the EIS, said: "The empowering schools agenda creates a real opportunity for professional voice and agency to be made central and critical to how our school system works. “This extends from formal leadership posts, which are clearly of major importance, to leadership at all levels. As ever, the litmus test for any change is how it impacts on practice in the classroom. The EIS is keen to work with partners to deliver opportunity and improvement through a refreshed practitioner led system.”

Partnerships driving change

Kenneth Muir, Chief Executive, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), said: “Partnerships are increasingly driving change in education. For example, GTCS works with partners across the system to deliver Professional Update; the Student Placement System; MyProfessionalLearning and other professional learning services to teachers. “There is no doubt that partnership is key to empowering schools and we look forward to ensuring the services of GTCS further support headteachers to play a full role in this important work.”

Getting the best from education

Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Children and Young People Spokesperson, said: “To ensure all of our children and young people get the best from their education, effective partnership between local authorities, schools, parents and children is crucial. We know collaboration is taking place at local and regional levels across Scotland - the Charter and related documents, builds on and consolidates those partnerships.”

Powerful impact through collaboration

Jim Thewliss, General Secretary of School Leaders Scotland, said: “The recommendations of the Working Group, by emphasising the powerful impact which can be achieved through a collaborative approach to supporting learners at the point of delivery, will further empower schools to meet the needs and aspirations of young people. School Leaders welcome the recommendations as an opportunity build on, and draw from, what is identified as the best in leadership practice in Scottish schools.”