Giving a progress report, she said: 'Meanwhile, 4,900 candidates are currently undergoing training, of which some 80 have already qualified. A number have been appointed to headship posts.
'The new qualification has been subject to careful evaluation throughout its development. The feedback has been positive in showing the training has developed candidates' management and leadership skills. I believe the qualification is well on track'.
Lord Dormand of Easington, a former chief education officer, welcomed the 'long overdue training qualification', but asked if there was a danger that making it a mandatory requirement for applicants was being implemented too soon, especially because of the large number of early retirements which have been taken by head teachers.
The minister said the training was in four modules, including one dealing with teaching and learning. Training programmes took into account that being head of a small primary school was different from that of a large comprehensive. Each applicant would be assessed according to their existing qualifications and experience and the programme they would follow will be modelled according to their specific needs.