Leadership programme

The aims of Rethinking Leadership

  • To make the argument for change through case studies, papers and blogs. 
  • To highlight examples of alternative approaches to developing leaders, which are more focused on creating an expansive education for every young person. 
  • To influence the future of leadership development and learning for our school leaders.

Rethinking Leadership:

What else? What next? What if?

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.

What is Rethinking Leadership?

Rethinking Leadership is a group of committed individuals and organisations who came together around the idea that new ways of thinking about leadership are critical.


Why is this needed? 

  • Because the education system must evolve into one that is more relevant and responsive to the needs of young people. 
  • The only way that will happen is through leadership.
  • Our current approach to leadership development is missing some critical elements.

So what is this new approach that is needed? It must;

  • Go beyond tweaks to our existing approaches
  • Equip educators to be bold and ‘ask bigger questions’ about the purpose of school 
  • Empower leaders to rethink ‘what’ we do
  • Be human centred and develop people from the inside out


As Lencioni puts it in “The Advantage”, we need organisations that are smart and healthy, i.e. focused both on performance AND on the people, purpose and culture.


Why get involved?

  • There has never been a more important time to think deeply about the ways in which we develop leaders.  
  • The recruitment crisis reveals we are not attracting nor supporting the best to remain in our profession.  
  • Burnout rates of teachers and school leaders signal the need to support educators in different and more purposeful ways.


What has been missing is ‘how’ we might address this.  Rethinking Leadership is our starting point as we think and act on this, together.  

We are creating a committed coalition of schools and system leaders interested in sharing and developing their practice in this area.  

If you are interested in being actively involved in this work, and receiving regular updates, please click here

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What else? What next? What if?

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