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Excellence in Headship

Excellence in Headship supports headteachers – who have been in post for two years or more – to strengthen and expand their school leadership skills, with a strong focus on school improvement and the delivery of excellence and equity for all children and young people.

The programme provides an annual calendar of professional learning opportunities for leadership in a range of formats, which include: opportunities for collaborative learning, cross-system learning, coaching and mentoring, network development, issue exploration, international research and engagement with online learning.  It is designed to provide sufficient flexibility which will enable you to engage in several key areas over an academic session.

About the programme

Excellence in Headship begins with a residential induction session on leadership and critical self-awareness. As a participant, you will join up to 40 other colleagues from across Scotland and engage in learning with a focus on building collaborative networks and increasing leadership self-awareness.

Following the induction, you will choose from a range of professional learning opportunities within the five remaining Excellence in Headship themes. Your choice of learning opportunity should be linked to your professional review and development (PRD) and professional update discussions. There is no imposed limit to the number of sessions you can attend, however we would anticipate that you select a minimum of two.

The programme will evolve on an annual basis with the objective that it remains relevant throughout the professional career of a headteacher.

The residential induction opportunities for academic session 2019/20 programme are taking place across Scotland on the following dates:

Date Venue
2/3 September 2019 Malmaison, Dundee
17/18 September 2019 Radisson Blu, Edinburgh
3/4 October 2019 Stirling Court Hotel


Useful documents

SCEL – Excellence in Headship information leaflet

Excellence in Headship induction application form

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply?

Applications for Excellence in Headship 2019/20 are now open. Dates for residential inductions are on the website.

Please apply via your local authority leadership and professional learning lead.

Keep an eye out on the SCEL website and on Twitter @TeamSCEL and check in with your local authority CLPL lead for application forms.

What is the duration of the programme?

There is no fixed duration period for the programme. Following completion of the theme one induction, you will be able to choose professional learning opportunities from the remaining five themes on an annual basis.

It is anticipated that your decision on choice of themes will be shaped by your identified professional review and development priorities and the programme will evolve on an annual basis to meet these needs and to remain current.

How much time should I commit to the programme?

The core time commitment for Excellence in Headship will vary depending on your professional learning opportunity choices.

Each participant is required to engage with theme one – critical self-awareness – which is a two-day participatory residential programme held in a variety of locations around the country.

Following the theme one induction, you will choose from a range of professional learning opportunities within the five remaining Excellence in Headship themes. These opportunities vary in time, ranging from half-day sessions, to five-day residential sessions.

The professional learning opportunities can be viewed within the individual theme pages listed above.

How is the programme funded?

The programme is funded by Scottish Government. There is no charge to you or your employer to participate.

Please note that travel costs are not covered.

When will the programme commence?

The theme one inductions for the academic session 2019/20 programme are taking place across Scotland on the following dates:

2/3/ September 2019: Malmaison, Dundee

17/18 September 2019: Radisson Blu, Edinburgh

3/4 October 2019: Stirling Court Hotel

Is there a qualification for completion of the programme?

Excellence in Headship is designed to support and facilitate experiential learning and is not mapped to a particular level of the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework. There is no formal qualification awarded for engaging in the programme.

It will continually evolve and be available on an annual basis, based on sector priorities and feedback from participant headteachers. Some learning within the themes may be mapped to a particular SCQF level and when this is the case, it will be publicised as appropriate.

I have been informed by my employer that I have secured a place on the programme, what happens next?

SCEL is responsible for the administration and management of Excellence in Headship. Once you have completed the application form and your place is endorsed by your employer, you will be directed to information about the theme one induction and provided with details on next steps by the SCEL team.

I have been a headteacher for one year, can I apply to be on the programme?

The decision on places within the programme will be made by your employer in partnership with SCEL. The recommendation is that Excellence in Headship is for headteachers who have been in post for two years or more. The SCEL In Headship programme is designed for new headteachers within their first two years of headship, and this programme is likely to be more appropriate at this stage of your professional career.

How will my learning on the programme be evaluated?

Evaluation activities are built into the programme and you are encouraged to complete these. It is important that we receive evaluations to help us continually improve all aspects of the programme. You will also be encouraged to create and maintain a learning plan linked to your work on professional update.

Explore Excellence in Headship

Browse the Excellence in Headship themes and create your bespoke learning journey