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This website will be closed on 21 October 2019. Please visit for all information on the professional learning and leadership programmes, events and resources offered by Education Scotland.

Towards Headship aims to support the continuous professional learning of those already awarded the Standard for Headship by successfully completing the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) or the Flexible Route to Headship (FRH) and who are now considering headship as their next career step and wish to engage in further learning towards headship.

About the programme

Towards Headship aims to build upon the professional learning undertaken during and subsequent to the SQH and FRH programmes. Both GTCS accredited Standard for Headship programmes (Scottish Qualification for Headship and Flexible Routes to Headship) delivered previously are still recognised and although these programmes are no longer on offer, the award of the Standard for Headship remains valid. Towards Headship provides a set of experiences in which participants will continue their professional learning in the specific context of school leadership.

The programme aims

The programme aims to better prepare candidates for successful school leadership by:

  • critically engaging with the current and emerging international and national policy contexts
  • enhancing the application of strategic thinking, planning and leadership practice
  • facilitating critical reflection on professional knowledge, understanding, experience and practice
  • access a co-coaching network to provide challenge and support in critical reflection on strategic leadership practices
  • supporting critical reflection on the inter-personal skills and abilities of leadership
  • developing and reinforcing a knowledge of key aspects relating to school management.

How Towards Headship is delivered

The programme will commence with participants undertaking an emotional and social competency inventory (ESCI) 360 tool.  They will receive feedback from a trained ESCI facilitator which will, along with reflection on the Standard for Headship, inform the development of a personal professional learning profile.

Participants will come together for three contact days to build their knowledge of strategic leadership, engage with relevant literature and research and develop peer coaching networks to reflect upon implications for their practice.  The first of these contact days will take the form of a residential experience running from Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon.

Participants will complete online learning modules on employment law, education law, health and safety and managing finance.  These online modules are self-directed and access will be provided from the beginning of the programme and will require to be completed before the conclusion of the programme.

A recall event six months after completion of the programme will give participants the opportunity to reflect on progress to date, further engage in the professional network developed in the programme and share learning.

Applying for the Towards Headship programme

Note: Applications for the 2019/20 Towards 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 Towards Headship programme is open to those who have successfully gained the Standard for Headship and are likely to take up a headteacher post as their next career step.

If you would like to apply you should first discuss your application with your line manager and/or employer. You should then complete the Towards Headship application form and ensure that it is appropriately endorsed.

For local authority employees, the application process is managed by the local authority co-ordinator and completed forms should be returned to them. Applicants should confirm submission deadlines with their local authority co-ordinator.

SCEL Towards Headship FAQs

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