Empowering Schools: education reform progress update

Progress update on delivery of the Scottish Government's programme of education reform.

Chapter 1: Headteachers’ Charter 

Next steps 

In the Next Steps publication, we committed to:

  • Clearly define school leadership responsibilities through a Headteachers’ Charter developed in partnership with the profession and professional associations.

Joint agreement

The Joint Agreement committed signatories to:

  • Establish a Headteachers’ Charter that – working collaboratively with their local authority, staff and parents, and with due regard to employment law and supporting guidance – will empower headteachers in decisions on curriculum design, improvement, school staffing structures and appointments.


A Headteachers’ Charter has been produced in partnership with the education system. This was published as an agreed draft on 7 February 2019 alongside guidance for school leaders. These documents retain the original ambition of ensuring headteachers have clear decision making powers in respect of staffing, budgets, improvement and curriculum as envisaged in the draft Education Bill. 

The Headteachers’ Charter, school leaders guidance and more generally the model of empowerment are now being used by schools and local authorities to plan their work. 

They are also being used to support professional learning for school leaders and on 29 May Education Scotland launched an enhanced leadership support package designed specifically to support headteachers operating in an environment characterised by greater school-based decision making. This builds on the well received Excellence in Headship programme which includes Columba 1400 Headteacher Leadership Academies.

It is vital that the role of headteacher remains attractive to as wide a range of the profession as possible. With this in mind, the Head in a New Direction recruitment campaign was launched at the 2018 Scottish Learning Festival. The campaign seeks to highlight the unique and rewarding role of headteachers and encourage more teachers to consider a future in headship. It is part of the broader Teaching Makes People campaign and combined with a greater focus on succession planning and our existing support for teachers wishing to take the steps to a headship role we aim to build increased interest in the role
of headteacher. 

Going forward

Our expectation remains that headteachers will be provided with the opportunity to exercise the ability to take key decisions as set out in the Headteachers’ Charter. 

The existing draft guidance for school leaders will be augmented with a full range of additional empowerment guidance covering:

  • Learners;
  • Local authority and RICs;
  • Scottish Government and national organisations;
  • Partners;
  • Support staff;
  • Teachers and practitioners; and
  • Parents and carers.

It is expected that this full suite of guidance will be published in draft later this year before being finally agreed in June 2020. 

The strengthening of school empowerment across the system will ensure that the actions and behaviours set out in the Joint Agreement are embedded into every day practice – including through local authority self-evaluation, support and challenge from Education Scotland through regional delivery, professional learning and leadership, scrutiny functions, curriculum design, delivery of new devolved school management guidelines and the publication of a new Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) Code of Practice. This expectation will be further embedded into the education system in revised Professional Standards, managed by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), which are due to be published in advance of the August 2020 school term. 

An important part of this developing suite of advice in support of empowerment are the new Devolved School Management Guidelines which were published in June 2019. The guidelines promote transparency, consistency and equity in funding for schools. Developed in partnership with COSLA, Local Government and headteacher representatives, these build on and improve previous guidelines and provide headteachers and schools with the autonomy and flexibility to ensure that local decisions are, wherever possible, made as close to the learner as possible. The new guidelines will be implemented in all local authority areas by April 2021.


Email: scott.miller@gov.scot

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