Local Authority support for school leaders

Issue
The need for local authorities to provide more effective support for Head Teachers and Deputes.
Headline position

It should be incumbent on all Local Authorities to provide quality training and Pastoral Support for all staff.

Full position

Whatever the causes of stress or anxiety, AHDS believes that Directors of Educational Services have a duty of care to their managers and should have effective systems in place in order to provide support.

AHDS members have always been in a vulnerable position with regard to pressures of work and illness due to stress. With the recent change in emphasis of HMIE inspections, even more demands have been placed on Senior Management Teams (SMT) in schools. Effective leadership is paramount when steering a school and its staff through the sea of initiatives and improving attainment and achievement for all pupils.  However AHDS has concern that the culture of accountability, rigour and challenge is placing unreasonable pressure on its members.  There are still Head Teachers being appointed and in post who have had little or no formal preparation for the demanding duties required of Senior Management.  Scottish Education Authorities need to provide quality training and advice to aspiring leaders.

Whatever route towards Headship, taken by those aspiring to be school managers, there should be clearly defined Pastoral Support systems and readily available advice for those who may require it.  There are different practices across all Education Authorities (e.g. There seem to be different arrangements across Scotland to facilitate return to work after chronic stress related illness) and it would be prudent, indeed eminently advisable, for good practice to be shared with authorities that are lacking in suitable provision.

There is evidence that many Heads, with excellent track records, have, after HMIE inspections or Authority Quality Assurance procedures, suffered from stress.  AHDS fully supports that Heads should be challenged and made accountable, but this must be in a climate of understanding and support.  It is incumbent on all Local Authorities to have accurate knowledge of their schools and to offer effective support to school leaders during trying times.

AHDS is committed to working in partnership, whenever possible, with Authority senior management and it is important that arrangements are in place to support school leaders in order to nurture trust, partnership and a positive ethos.

At local level, the local authority education directorate should meet with AHDS members to discuss the kind of pressures felt by Head Teachers. There should be open dialogue exploring new issues such as CPD, PRD, Management Structures, Health Promotion and appropriate Personnel such as Welfare Officers. In Highland, for example, Stress Management Training has been initiated and a Mentoring system has been set up.

Although AHDS members would be expected to provide individual support, as anyone would to a colleague in need, this is not a substitute for authority omission.

For members requiring advice/help, where they feel the Local Authority is deficient, please contact your local AHDS group or Area Officer in the first instance.