The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Headship Qualifications

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

Holding the Standard for Headship will become a prerequisite for teachers taking up their first permanent headteacher post at Local Authority and grant-aided schools in Scotland from 1 August 2020, under Section 28 of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016.

There will be two exemptions. The first applies to any permanent headteacher who has been appointed to a position in a school on, or prior to, 1 August 2020. The second exemption enables education authorities or the managers of grant-aided schools to appoint a person to a headteacher post, who has not attained the Standard for Headship, on a temporary basis for a period not exceeding 30 months after 1 August 2020.

The Scottish Government has no plans at present to require that teachers appointed to headteacher posts in independent schools should hold the Standard for Headship. There was agreement during the passage of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 that the regulations relating to the independent sector would be delayed until after those covering the local authority and grant-aided sectors came into force and the requirement for all teachers in independent schools to be registered with GTCS had become embedded.

Into Headship

The Scottish College for Educational Leadership, now Education Scotland, led the development of the Into Headship qualification which is now Scotland’s national professional learning programme for headship.  It has been designed in consultation with universities, local authorities, Education Scotland and GTC Scotland, and focusses on the specificity of headship and the strategic role of headteachers.

There are currently seven university partners accredited by GTC Scotland that deliver the qualification in partnership with local authorities and Education Scotland. The programme is designed as a 60 credit postgraduate certificate qualification at SCQF level 11 which forms part of a Masters leadership pathway. On successful completion of the Into Headship programme participants are awarded the Standard for Headship by GTC Scotland.

Former Scottish Routes to Headship

Two routes, the Flexible Route to Headship (FrH) and the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) are no longer available as programmes of study, however, teachers who have successfully completed SQH or FRH continue to hold the Standard for Headship.


For information about Headship, contact, Professional Learning and Development Department:

T: +44 (0)131 314 6000