Leadership programme


What else? What next? What if?

Liz Robinson & Joe Hallgarten

Rethinking Leadership

Big Education & The Centre for Education and Youth

The development of school leaders is a complex and contentious business. It is also critical to the current and future success of our highly devolved school system.

We have come a long way in England, with the recent reform of the core training (NPQs) and development of national delivery infrastructure. However, a significant gap remains between current provision and what is needed to equip leaders with the knowledge and skills they need.

This report sets out what this gap looks like and what we might do about it.

The good work to establish a curriculum of core content that all school leaders should know, has been established and a golden thread of evidence-informed insights is being embedded in schools through the reformed NPQ programmes.

It is now widely agreed that whilst this approach provides a foundation for developing leaders, it is not the whole picture. The content is necessary, but not sufficient. Leaders need a more holistic leadership development journey which empowers them with the skills, knowledge and mindsets to respond to the challenging and changing contexts within which they are working.

As providers of professional development opportunities for school leaders consider how to design offers that go beyond this minimum entitlement, and as school leaders themselves explore their own beyond-NPQ development needs, now is a useful moment to provoke some broader thinking about the future of school leadership in England. We know that this work is not easy – otherwise we would have already figured it out. But we do think that an open mindset is required to engage in this important work.

This paper  explores what’s up – the problem as it is, what else is needed, what might be next, and concludes with some future focused what ifs.

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What else? What next? What if?

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