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Heads Together

Heads Together Project Description
Heads Together is an online community which is being developed by Learning and Teaching Scotland in conjunction with Ultralab on behalf of the Scottish Executive Education Department. The community enables headteachers to share best practice, and to debate with policy makers in a confidential electronic environment. It is now being made available through a day’s training to every headteacher in Scotland.

Heads Together aims to:

  • Support the development of management skills of existing Scottish headteachers.
  • Support the development of management skills of existing Scottish headteachers.
  • Reduce the isolation of headteachers in small or remote schools.
  • Raise the ICT skills of participating headteachers.
  • Make participating headteachers aware of the potential role of ICT for management and administration, learning and teaching.

A successful pilot in school session 2002-03 involved nearly 800 headteachers from all 4 sectors and every education authority and was evaluated by George Street Research. The Evaluation can be found on the Scottish Executive website.

Potential benefits acknowledged by the evaluation included:

  • One-stop-shop offering advice, help, and support not available from other sources and which can save time.
  • Contact between headteachers on a confidential basis throughout Scotland which can help to reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Provision of information on topical issues.
  • Opportunities to exchange information, ideas, strategies and policies which can help improve the quality of education offered in schools.

One headteacher said, 'I really enjoyed the day. I didn’t know what to expect so was pleasantly surprised and can see real positive potential for this initiative. Hopefully this will stop us all re-inventing the wheel in our own individual schools. You can be isolated even in a large school.'

Features in the community include 'Hot Seats', 'What's Happening in Our School', and the 'Cybrary', as well as conversations, debates and brainstorms between members.

Hot seats enable members to debate current issues with guests with national and international backgrounds and with fellow headteachers. Previous guests include professor Stephen Heppell, Keir Bloomer and HMSCI Graham Donaldson.

The 'What's Happening in Our School' feature lets headteachers share with colleagues the ideas and strategies which have worked for them, or any new initiatives they have been involved with. The cybrary provides an online, searchable bank of school policy documents.

A special characteristic of the community  is the provision of proactive support by a team of facilitators which includes in its membership a seconded primary headteacher, a seconded secondary head (project Development Officer), two experienced facilitators from outwith the primary/secondary sphere, and an Ultralab facilitator as consultant.

Ultralab piloted this project from 2002-2004 and now act as consultants to what has become a thriving community of practice.  We also advised on development of custom software by LTS which is now in demand elsewhere. Heads Together is a closed community but success stories can be found here on the Learning and Teaching Scotland website.

For further information contact Kevin Thompson

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