About School Leaders Scotland

SLS is an inclusive and supportive association, providing an influential and respected voice which represents the interests of our members across the country.

Years supporting school leaders in Scotland
of Scottish secondary headteachers are members
Representation in schools in Scotland
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The development of the School Leaders Scotland (or Headteachers’ Association of Scotland at is was formerly known) during the last eighty years has taken place in parallel with the many and varied influences which have affected Scottish education during the same period. Click on the tabs below to find out how we have evolved.

The Scottish Secondary Headmasters’ Association was established on 7th March 1936 on the motion of Mr George Robertson, Headmaster of George Watson’s Boys’ College Edinburgh who would become the first President of the Association. At this point in the education system in command of the senior secondary school was the “Rector”, a man (in all but the single sex girls’ schools) who, by virtue of his honour degree, subsequent teacher training and many years as a successful teacher and principal teacher, governed every aspect of the organisation. His influence and stature were unquestioned, he was respected by the whole community and he was involved in every aspect of school life. It was therefore, not unnatural for these men to wish to form an association with their peers throughout Scotland so that they might take part in an exchange of views on matters specific to their roles and also for the purpose of fellowship. It was in 1938 that the association was re-named the Association of Headmasters Senior Secondary School.

During the War years little changed in Scottish education but during the following years there were major political changes and society attitude to health, welfare and education altered dramatically. In the late 1940’s the school leaving age was raised to 15 which led to increased class sizes and shortage of qualified teaching staff. Changes to the examination system also followed. In March 1959 the new title “The Headmasters’ Association of Scotland” was adopted but change came about again in February 1973 when the title “The Headteachers’ Association of Scotland” was adopted and membership of the Association was extended to include Headmistresses and Headteachers of schools in Scotland providing a course of secondary education extending to or beyond S4.

Membership increased in the late 1960’s as huge schools emerged as the school leaving age increased to 16. As a result of this the was a huge expansion in the duties undertaken by the Headteacher and to assist in the workload Senior Management Teams were set up which included the Head, The Depute Head and the newly established post of Assistant Headteacher. School/pupil communication improved with the appointment of Guidance Staff at both Principal and Assistant Principal level. With this level of structure the headteacher now had increasing need of his professional association and more frequently sought HAS advice, support and the sharing of problems. The Association was a great carrier of information to its members on many reports including Munn, Dunning, Pack etc.

In the 1970’s and 80’s members of the Association had started to influence the then Scottish Education Department with nominees at many meetings with the Department, Scottish Certificate of Education Examination Board (SEB), COSLA, Universities, Teacher Training Colleges, COSLA to name but a few. To ensure the information was filtered down to all members HAS set up subcommittees within its national Council which has always been representative of all administrative regions. Conferences became vital in-service for members, providing forums for discussion and also network with colleagues from around the country. However it was becoming apparent that a more efficient 2 way communication mechanism with members was required.

The changes in the nature of the post of headteacher and the demands made on each incumbent have caused the Association to evolve into an organisation quite different from the one envisaged by its founders. This evolution was to gain momentum in the last thirty years, and, thanks for the vision, dedication and selfless work of a succession of excellent office bearers, SLS came to be able to provide a full professional service for its members. At no time in the history of this Association has membership been incompatible with membership of any of the teacher unions or professional organisations. Indeed the original Association survived for many years within the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS). However the inevitably small number of secondary school headteachers in Scotland meant that their influence in other organisations was equally small and, on some occasions there became conflicts of interest. Members increasingly required the legal protection of the large organisations.


SLS Staff

Jim Thewliss

Jim Thewliss

General Secretary

Represents SLS on:
Scottish Education Council
Strategic Board on Teacher Education
National Improvement Framework Professional Associations Group
SCEL Stakeholder Forum
SCEL Excellence in Headship
COSLA Education Policy Sounding Board
Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group
Head Teacher Recruitment Working Group
Developing the Young Workforce Chair/Manager meeting
Scottish Learning Festival Planning Group
Education Scotland External Reference Group
Career Pathways National Steering Group
LGBT Inclusive Education Group
Commission on Widening Access Implementation Group
Access Delivery Group
GTCS Professional Review and Development Group
Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT)
School Library Strategy Group
15 - 24 Learner Journey Group

Neil Shaw

Neil Shaw

Field Officer

Represents SLS on:
Pensions Advisory Board
Scottish Qualifications Authority

Lyn Honnan

Lyn Honnan

Admin/Finance Manager

Eileen Young

Eileen Young

Professional Learning Manager

SLS Executive

In addition to the Presidential Team representatives, members of SLS Executive also represent SLS on the following:

Scottish Traveller Education Review Group  :  Julia Barclay

UCAS  :  Mhairi Moore

GTCS Review of Standards : Graham Hutton, Julia Barclay

Strategic Plan  :  Alistair Moore

President 2021/2022

Jon Reid, Rector Larbert High School, Falkirk 

Represents SLS on

SSERC Board of Directors

Immediate Past President 2021/2022

Allyson Dobson, Head Teacher,  Dalkeith High School 

Represents SLS on:

Enabling Teacher Agency Advisory Group

National Strategy for Coaching and Mentoring

Scottish Learning Festival Management Board


Past President 

Graham Hutton, Rector, Grove Academy

Represents SLS on:

SNCT Career Pathways: Headship and Beyond

Education Leaders Forum

1+2 Modern Languages

Empowerment – Workstream 3

SQA NQ 2022 Working Group

SPPA Teachers’ Pensions Board

Vice Presidents 2021/2022

Campbell Wilson, Headteacher Peebles High School,  Scottish Borders

Represents SLS on


CAB sub group on Children’s Rights


Julie Macdonald, Rector, Nairn Academy,  Highland


The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) is the only professional association and trade union in Britain to speak exclusively for secondary school and college leaders.


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