Become a Headteacher


Head in a new direction

Headteachers play a vital role in shaping the lives of their pupils and staff, and the wider community. As a Headteacher, you have the opportunity to shape both your school and its curriculum, making a positive difference to pupils, staff and the wider community as well as providing support for staff. Read the case studies below where current Headteachers tell us what they love about their job.

There is no doubt that a Headteacher role is challenging, with different priorities to balance, and important decisions to be made on a daily basis, but with the right support and training in place, alongside your drive and determination to make a real difference, this can also be a hugely rewarding role. Are you ready to take on the next challenge in your career?

Into Headship

The fully funded ‘Into Headship’ qualification has been specifically designed to help candidates meet the requirements for the Standard for Headship, which will be a mandatory requirement for all new Headteachers in Scotland from August 2020.

The qualification provides you with the training you need to develop your leadership skills, and prepare you for the strategic challenges of the Headteacher role.

Find out more about the Into Headship qualification.

Headteacher’s stories

Find out more about the benefits of becoming a Headteacher by watching the videos and reading the case studies below or have a look at our Headteacher blogs here.

Click the arrows below to read through some real Headteacher experiences.

Terry McCann - Headteacher at King's Park Primary School

“It was a privilege to be appointed as Headteacher of King’s Park Primary in February 2016. I am incredibly fortunate to work alongside senior leaders, teaching and support staff who strive to improve the lives of the children we work with. Working with highly motivated colleagues, from class teachers to the support, clerical and janitorial staff, who share my vision for ongoing improvement is very rewarding.

"In education, relationships are central to the learning, growth and development of children. We implement approaches to encourage children to reflect on their behaviour to ensure they take responsibility for their actions. We’ve opened a nurture space within the school to support our most vulnerable children and work with various partners in the community to help them feel safe and valued. My favourite part of the job is seeing incremental improvements in the children and staff because of the initiatives and policies implemented.

"To anyone considering progressing their career to headteacher I would say: be brave, trust yourself and accept it’s a journey. The biggest resource you have in education is your peers. It’s a challenging job, but the best advice you can get is from other teachers; no one understands what you’re going through better than them."

Elaine Liney - Headteacher at Pitlochry High School

“I made the decision to become a Headteacher as I believe education can change lives, and I wanted to make a positive difference to the young people in my community.

"The first year was full of surprises as I did everything for the first time. The weight of responsibility surprised me, but I had the strength of well-tested relationships all round me.

"I am lucky to be part of a small, rural community that values the opportunities we have to work together. Building community both within and out with the school is one of the most important parts of my role as Headteacher.

“You are the leader of learning in school and you must lead by example by not relying on past successes.

"I am privileged to witness children’s joy at learning a new skill. In short, the most rewarding part is the success of others – adults and children. It’s easy to underestimate the impact that we, as school staff, have."

Nicky Murray - Headteacher at Burnside Primary School

“I was initially attracted to a career in teaching due to my love of working with children. I was positive I would be successful in helping people in school and the wider community. My mission is simple: to inspire the colleagues and pupils I work with.

"As a Headteacher, there is an opportunity to make a difference, as such we have shaped our curriculum to reflect the needs of our community.

"There are too many positive changes I have made since taking up post to list them all, however one that stands out is the increased awareness of adversity, resulting in Burnside being one of the first schools in the country to share a resilience film with our parents.

“I would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of preparing for the role of Headship, because if you do and don’t shy away from some of the more challenging experiences you will thrive in this rewarding role."

Anne Graham - Headteacher at Lochdar and Daliburgh Primary School

“One of the main reasons I became a teacher was the ability to give something back to my community, particularly my Gaelic background. Teachers have always played an integral role in my life, teachers who believed in me, motivated me and inspired my learning. As a Headteacher, the extent of your responsibilities is inevitably, enormous – you have to make tough decisions as you balance your responsibilities.

"Being a Headteacher has offered me the opportunity to make a difference on a scale that is unlike any I have ever known. I’m able to influence the future of all the pupils in a school community and it is an absolute honour to support a school to develop in a way that permeates your own vision and values.

"The driving force is knowing that the children in the schools I work in, like all children, deserve the very best. I would encourage anyone considering progressing their career into headship to embrace opportunities that come their way. Have confidence and believe in yourself, make mistakes and learn from them."

Stuart Clark - Headteacher at Port Glasgow High School

“I was attracted to a career in teaching because I wanted to make a difference to the lives of young people and contribute towards their future. During my school career, I observed (as a pupil and a teacher), that Headteachers can make an immense impact on the culture, ethos and success of a school and as a result, changing the lives of the pupils within it.

"The job is not without challenges: the role involves elements I did not expect such as health and safety, facilities and personnel. The most significant learning was how to balance different priorities to support the ‘bigger picture’, and to consider the strategic priorities of the school at every level of the job. As a result, I developed a new school mission and vision.

"My advice to any teacher considering the next steps into senior management would be to take the chance and not to wait until you ‘feel ready’, as the reality is everything is a learning journey and there will always be further improvement to be made."

Jodie Hannan - Headteacher at Drummond Community High School

“I was initially attracted to a career in teaching due to the love of my degree subject, History. Being a Headteacher was never my end goal.

"I was encouraged to apply for the Depute position due to my strong background in and commitment to learning and teaching. It took me a while to adjust to how different a Depute’s role is, however, once I had settled into the post I was able to start evaluating what the school needed.

"It’s clichéd but true, you really are in the position to make a difference, so it’s important to allow staff creativity in the curriculum and to try new things. Don’t get stuck behind your desk: build relationships with the pupils just as you did when you were a class teacher.

"Don’t apply to be a Headteacher for the status, your ego or the salary - you must do it for the right reasons. Your educational and personal values must be at the core of your decision to be a Headteacher.

"If you think, and trusted friends and colleagues agree, that you have what it takes to do the job, take a deep breath and dive in!"

Patrick Callaghan - Headteacher at St Andrews RC High School

“Since April 2010 I have been leading the school which gave me my own invaluable education. Throughout this time, I have been involved in the restructuring of guidance, pupil support curricular offerings and development of the learning hub. I have been able to shape the curriculum, specifically regarding the development of Childcare and Early Education.

"My favourite aspect of being a Headteacher is when pupils continue their journey in education and appreciate the difference the school has made. The achievements I am most proud of during my career directly involve the pupils and their families, and the positive opinion of the school in the local community.

"My advice to any teachers considering applying for the Into Headship course would be to enjoy every minute. The research, reading and contacts you can make provide an unprecedented platform to contribute to your personal development as a teacher and an individual."

Gael Ross - Headteacher at Stoneywood Primary School

“I was originally drawn to teaching as I have a real passion for helping children progress and learn.

"Once I advanced to an Acting Deputy Head Teacher position, I enjoyed the opportunities that I was given to develop my leadership skills and work beyond the school environment. I recognised the impact that I could have on so many children rather than just one class, enabling all learners to be the best they can be.

"The most rewarding part of the role is seeing confidence increase, learners inspired to learn and take risks. The impact of seeing this from pupils, parents, staff and those within the wider community supports my belief that a school is so much more than bricks and mortar.

"I believe that with the right attitude, support network, drive and commitment the role of a Headteacher can be extremely rewarding and encourage anyone with an interest in leadership to consider supporting a school community in this way."

Iain Hughes - Headteacher at Waid Academy

“I was inspired by two Headteachers who both felt it was something I should seriously consider, and it was the encouragement from those in position that gave me the push to take the next steps.

"Since becoming a Headteacher, I’ve been able to help shape the curriculum to best fit the needs of the school and wider community.

"Upholding faith in young people and encouraging others to break down the barriers to learning is crucial. Working with young people and seeing the most difficult to reach grow and develop is without a doubt, the most rewarding part of the job.

"My advice to anyone thinking about the ‘Into Headship’ qualification would be to seriously consider the reasons why you are taking the next steps. Obtain as much practical experience as you can and know it is what you do, what you believe and how you apply your skillset which will make you a successful Headteacher."

Fiona Smyth - Headteacher at Columba's Primary School

“For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. This stemmed from my amazing P6 teacher who made every single child in her class feel important.

"I have been a Headteacher for just over 18 months. I have learned so much about the importance of working simultaneously with the school and its community, as a positive relationship between both is imperative to lead a school on a continuous improvement journey.

"Always remember the reason we do our job is to make a difference and improve outcomes for children. It is important you work hard to build relationships with every individual child to ensure they always feel part of something in class or in the school.

"My advice to anyone considering taking the next steps would be: apply for the Into Headship qualification! The course allows you to develop a network of people who understand what you are going through."

Maureen Macdonald - Headteacher Port Ellen and Bowmore Primaries

"It was an inspirational family member who attracted me to this profession, helping me realise that good teaching can make such a difference to the lives of many young people."

"There are many rewarding aspects to this role, especially when I see confidence and leadership within my teams. As a manager, it is important from the outset to bring all staff together and develop a shared and clear understanding of where the school is in terms of its profile within the community, attainment and achievement and curriculum development."

"Becoming an Acting Headteacher by default was a daunting thought, however I was surprised at the fact that regardless of the challenges, no problem is unsurmountable. To anyone considering career progression into Headship, don’t be daunted by perceived problems – there are always solutions and support."

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