Fast Track Head Teacher Scheme by stU54o


									Fast Track Head Teacher Scheme

1.    The Fast Track initiative was launched in 2003 and originally involved
      both serving teachers and those undertaking initial teacher education.
      The latter component of the programme was discontinued in 2006,
      primarily due to concerns about value for money, although the
      unpopularity of the scheme, in particular, the lack of credibility as
      potential school leaders many of the young teachers enjoyed amongst
      their colleagues, was also believed to have had a part to play in the
      Government’s decision.

2.    The scheme was refocused in 2006 to concentrate solely on providing an
      accelerated leadership programme for serving teachers. NCSL is due to
      launch a re-designed programme in 2009, therefore it is likely that the
      Acting General Secretary’s invitation to discuss this initiative is actually a
      consultation on the re-design.

3.    The NUT supports the principle of the Fast Track programme, in
      particular, the provision of high quality CPD and its contribution to the
      next generation of school leaders. It does not believe, however, that such
      programmes will solve the head teacher recruitment shortages being
      experienced by many schools - it is merely a sticking plaster for the
      fundamental causes of this shortage, such as workload, personal
      accountability and pay. The interim national evaluation of the scheme,
      published in 2006, highlighted a key concern shared with the NUT, that it
      was aspects of the teaching job itself, rather than the Fast Track
      programme, which leads to teachers leaving Fast Track.

4.    There is no substitute for experience. The NUT believes that a broad
      experience of classroom teaching, preferably across a full age range (or
      even in more than one phase) and certainly including experience in a
      number of different schools, is the best basic preparation for headship,
      as it ensures that those attaining headship have, themselves,
      experienced a number of different management styles, variations in
      school ethos and a range of staffing arrangements. They will also have
      encountered many of the events and incidents that they are likely to
      meet in headship. Those who have been “fast tracked” to leadership may
      not be so well-equipped to cope in challenging circumstances.

5.    The re-designed programme must therefore be as practical as possible,
      focussing on “real life” situations which school leaders must deal with.
      This aspect of the programme should, wherever possible, draw upon the
      participants’ own schools, so that any work done for the programme will
      also be of practical value to the school.

6.    The direction of travel of Government policy has consistently been to
      strengthen the education system and improve pupil performance, both of
      which require in depth knowledge and understanding of teaching and
      learning. The head teacher bears much of the responsibility for
      translating Government policy into practice, therefore they must have the

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      professional experience, as well as the skills to be able to do so in a
      variety of contexts.

7.    The “unique selling point” of the programme is that it offers participants
      enhanced training, professional development and support tailored to their
      individual needs. Fast Track, however, involves approximately 1,900
      teachers a year. The NUT believes that this is exactly the same type of
      support that all teachers need. Access to such support, however, is
      extremely variable for the majority of teachers, since the removal of ring-
      fenced funding for induction and CPD.

8.    The Fast Track scheme is designed to help participants progress rapidly
      into leadership positions, either as part of school management teams or
      from within the classroom as an Advanced Skills Teacher, by providing
      them with a variety of early experiences of management and with
      support from a mentor. Such opportunities should be available to all
      teachers, not to a few.

9.    The NUT has organised courses jointly with the National College for
      School Leadership on promotion into middle and senior management for
      minority ethnic teachers. Such courses are currently unique in that they
      combine encouragement to seek promotion within the profession with
      practical strategies to prepare for and secure advancement. The NCSL
      needs to consider how the career development needs of all teachers,
      rather than a small minority, could be addressed better in future,
      including those whose caring or family commitments would preclude
      them from participating in residential courses based at NCSL or

10. The NUT has had long-standing concerns about the exclusion of Fast
    Track programme participants from the limits on working time that apply
    to all other classroom teachers. This is hardly likely to encourage
    applications or encourage teachers to stay in the profession. Restoration
    of working time limitations is essential, together with an appropriate
    allocation of management and leadership time.

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