Head teachers to get £3.5m support scheme

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Head teachers are to be offered a new package of training support as part of a £3.5m Scottish government scheme.

The Excellence in Headship programme aims to help school leaders "improve critical self-awareness, leadership of learning, lead system change and organisational effectiveness".

Education Secretary John Swinney made the announcement in Edinburgh.

The government later announced plans for the expansion of early learning entitlement in a Holyrood statement.

Mr Swinney also announced a £3m partnership with the Hunter Foundation for a series of leadership academies.

Launching the fund at Queen Margaret University, the deputy first minister said: "Effective school leadership is key to the success of schools. As a result, it is vital we invest in our head teachers and support them to deliver superb schooling for children in Scotland.

"I am delighted to announce that Excellence in Headship is now open for recruitment, backed by £1.6m of Scottish government funding over the next four years.

"In addition, the Scottish government, in partnership with the Hunter Foundation, will support leadership academies delivered by Columba 1400 which will benefit 320 head teachers in its first year.

"The head teacher role is challenging but hugely rewarding and I want to support teachers to take the step to headship while also committing to supporting head teachers already in post."

'Pace of change'

Sir Tom Hunter confirmed his foundation would invest £1m over the next four years, alongside £2m from the government, towards the leadership academies.

He said: "Education is the enabler, the leveller of playing fields, but to deliver that we need great leadership in our schools.

"The pace of change in the world of work is an incredible challenge for our school leaders and teachers - 65% of our young people joining primary school this year will go to jobs that don't even exist today.

"So, rightly, we need to invest more in supporting our school leaders and that's why we are delighted to be investing £1m alongside the Scottish government's £2m into world-class school leadership.

"In addition, the Hunter Foundation intends to build a world-class alumni programme for educational leaders across Scotland to enhance and build upon the excellence that Columba 1400 will deliver in leadership."

In a later statement at Holyrood, early years minister Mark McDonald told MSPs that a 31-point action plan would be published as part of the delivery of a pledge to increase early learning and childcare entitlement to 1,140 hours per year.