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The Into Headship qualification

Into Headship is Scotland’s national qualification for headship. It has been designed in consultation with universities, local authorities, Education Scotland and GTCS and focusses on the specificity of headship and the strategic role of headteachers. The programme is delivered in partnership between universities, local authorities and Education Scotland and includes a 60-credit postgraduate certificate qualification at SCQF level 11 which can form part of a Masters leadership pathway.

On successful completion of Into Headship participants are also awarded the Standard for Headship, which will become a pre-requisite for all new headteachers in Scotland from 2020. The previous qualifications of the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) and the Flexible Route to Headship (FRH) are no longer available. Teachers who have successfully completed SQH or FRH continue to hold the Standard for Headship.

Into Headship qualification aims

Into Headship aims to ensure aspiring headteachers are supported to develop and continue to build the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding required of senior leaders. The qualification is aimed at those teachers whose next post will be that of a headteacher, likely to be within two to three years.

It aims to enable candidates to:

  • develop and deepen the ability to critically reflect and enquire to enhance their strategic leadership practice
  • develop their strategic leadership and management skills in practice as specified by the Standard for Headship in Scotland
  • build and apply sound knowledge and understanding of strategic leadership and management practice and theory in the context of the role of headteacher
  • design and initiate a strategic change initiative which will strengthen the school’s capability for improvement
  • meet the Standard for Headship.

How Into Headship is delivered

The qualification has a two-course structure and combines a number of delivery approaches to enable access across Scotland. These include:

  • Practice-based learning: the qualification seeks to foster a strong link between the principles of strategic leadership and practice in schools and so a major focus is the practice-based element where participants identify an issue or problem facing their school and build a strategic change process to address this
  • Taught elements: through face-to-face delivery, or through digitally-mediated taught sessions, where the focus is on developing knowledge and critical analysis and on building social and collaborative learning
  • Directed study: with set reading, online study tasks, reflective activities and short school-based tasks involving exploring practice
  • Social cohort learning: collaborative tasks through workshops on taught elements and online, particularly through the use of forums. Collaborative learning and the building of networks are an important element in the development of aspiring and newly appointed headteachers
  • Experiential pedagogies: an important outcome of this qualification is the building of leadership capacity and capability. The evaluation and review of the previous national qualifications highlighted the potency of mentoring and coaching methodologies in leadership development, both for aspirant headteachers and for their role in building leadership capability in their school. Set tasks in the taught elements and directed study components build opportunities for peer coaching and mentoring
  • Support from many sources including headteacher mentor, LA/Independent School Co-ordinator and professional verifier as well as Education Scotland.

Into Headship – Headteacher mentor specification
Into Headship – Local authority co-ordinator specification
Into Headship – Professional verifier role

Equality Impact Assessment

As part of the design and development of Into Headship, an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) was undertaken to support continuous improvement and quality assurance and to provide a framework for the mainstreaming of equality into all aspects of the development, delivery, monitoring and review of the programme. The report sets out a strategic EIA up to the point of accreditation by the GTCS and publication of access and application information.

Impact Assessment Report – July 2015

Next steps in developing the Masters pathway

Working with university partners, we have now developed the Middle Leadership aspect of the Masters pathway for the Specialist Qualification in Headship. This has been available since 2016 and awards a Post Graduate Certificate (60 credits at SCQF level 11).  Those who attain the Middle Leadership certificate and go on to achieve Into Headship will be awarded a Post Graduate Diploma (120 credits at SCQF level 11).

The third part of the Masters Pathway, In Headship is now also available. This qualification is for those who have recently undertaken their first post as headteacher. Those who achieve all three aspects will be awarded a Masters degree subject to awarding body regulations.

SCEL 08 - Masters Pathway LHE040316

The Design Group now includes:

  • Ann Pearson – Clackmannanshire Council
  • Margery McMahon – University of Glasgow
  • Deirdre Torrance – University of Edinburgh
  • Neil McLennan – University of Aberdeen
  • Valerie Drew – University of Stirling
  • Joan Mowat – University of Strathclyde
  • Margaret Tracey – South Lanarkshire Council
  • Alison Allan – North Ayrshire Council
  • Jim Scott – University of Dundee
  • Rhona Jay – Falkirk Council
  • Jackie Purdie – Glasgow City Council
  • Morag Redford – University Highlands and Islands
  • Lesley Whelan – Education Scotland

Access Into Headship modules

Participants can log in, complete modules and track progress via the Into Headship portal.

Applying for the Into Headship programme

Note: Applications for the 2019/20 Into Headship programme are now closed. Applications for the next programme will be open in early 2020. Keep an eye on this website and on Twitter @TeamSCEL for more information.

The Into Headship programme is for GTCS-registered teachers aspiring to the post of headteacher within the next 2-3 years.

If you would like to apply you should first discuss your application with your line manager and/or employer. You should then complete the Into Headship application form which must be signed by your headteacher and employer.

Your headteacher/line manager will also complete an endorsement form for you to be considered for the programme.

For local authority employees, the application process is managed by the local authority co-ordinator and completed forms should be returned to them. Applicants may then be invited for interview. Each local authority will have their own arrangements for recruitment to the programme which will include submission deadlines. Applicants should confirm deadlines with their local authority co-ordinator.

Into Headship FAQs

If you have any other questions, please speak to your local authority co-ordinator in the first instance or contact