Into Headship


Leadership development is a key area on the national policy agenda in Scottish education. A design group was established to develop the Into Headship qualification.  The Design Group included the universities who deliver the Scottish Qualification for Headship, local authorities, Educational Scotland and GTCS.

Into Headship is a 60 credit postgraduate certificate qualification at SCQF level 11 which, forms part of a Masters leadership pathway.

The qualification focuses on the specificity of headship and the importance of strategic leadership. Participants who successfully complete the Into Headship qualification will be awarded the Standard for Headship.

Since August 2020 the Standard for Headship has been a mandatory qualification for all newly appointed head teachers.  It lays down the foundations for professionalism and leadership which is required by all Head Teachers. It is a framework for aspiring Head Teachers and identifies key qualities that are required to succeed as an experienced Head Teacher.

Target Audience

The Into Headship qualification is aimed at those teachers whose next post will be that of a Head Teacher, likely to be within 2 to 3 years.


The qualification has a two-course structure; Course 1 – Developing as a Strategic Leader and Course 2 – Leading Strategic Educational Change.  A number of delivery approaches are used to enable access across Scotland:

  • 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 will be 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 day schools, or through digitally-mediated taught sessions where the focus will be on developing knowledge and critical analysis and on building social and collaborative learning.
  • Directed study: the qualification includes a directed study qualification 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 Head Teachers.
  • 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 has highlighted the potency of mentoring and coaching methodologies in leadership development, both for aspirant head Teachers and for their role in building leadership capability in their school. Set tasks in the taught elements and directed study qualification build coaching and mentoring, including opportunities for peer coaching and mentoring.
  • Support during the programme will come from many sources including: LA Coach; Head Teacher Mentor, LA Co-ordinator and Professional Verifier.

Learning Outcomes:

The Into Headship qualification aims to ensure aspirant Head Teachers are supported to develop and continue to build the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding required of senior leaders. The qualification aims to enable candidates:

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


There is no cost to this programme at the moment as it is funded by Scottish Government.