The National Professional Qualification for Headteachers will be run and assessed under rigorous national standards and will underpin the existing Headlamp scheme which now gives newly-appointed heads training to meet the demands of their new post.
The Teacher Training Agency will start work immediately on urgent steps to get the qualification off the ground - in consultation with teachers, heads and others involved in management training. Pilot schemes are planned to be running by the next academic year.
Speaking in Blackpool today, Mrs Shephard said:
'I am clear that investment in well-run headteacher training must be one of our top priorities, and that it will turn out to be one of the best investments we could possibly make.
'The current Headlamp scheme is important. But it is not enough. We shall extend the scheme to make sure good and relevant training is available for deputy heads who are aiming for headship.
'Most headteachers already take part in management training of many different kinds. But I suspect some of that effort could be better directed. I have in mind something quite new - a recognised professional qualification for headship - which will be run and assessed under rigorous national standards.
'The training leading to the National Professional Qualification will produce more effective head teachers. This in turn will produce more effective schools.'