Routes into headship

Traditionally, talented teachers would have had to wait years for the retirement of their existing headteacher before they could make a move into headship. Only those with staying power survived the tired and well worn path to management. Now everyone from the senior classroom teacher to the experienced deputy headteacher can find a way to make headship a reality.

The National College of School Leadership provides different paths for staff at various stages of their careers to develop leadership skills.

National Professional Qualification for Headship
The most well known and ‘must have’ qualification is the recently redesigned National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). You can’t get a job as a headteacher in a maintained school without it or unless you have secured a place on a NPQH course.

First, you’ll need to carry out a series of online assessment activities to see if you are ready for headship. Then, the next step is to attend a two day assessment. If you get through all of that, you can then devise your own personal development plan.The key parts of the course cover peer learning, improvement coachin,; relevant learning experiences from different placements, policy and research, master classes and other leadership development activities.

The course lasts for four to 12 months and ends with your graduation. But don’t worry, you won’t be left to negotiate the role of headship on your own; as a newly qualified headteacher you’ll receive coaching and support to help ensure a smooth start.

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Future Leaders
Now, if you are really up for a challenge and long to make a difference in urban schools, then the NCSL’s Future Leaders course could be just the thing. Paired with an outstanding leader you will receive coaching throughout the programme. You’ll also be carefully matched with a mentor who will provide the inspiration you need to be an effective organiser.

Residential weekends and study days focus on personal leadership; school ethos and culture; technical competency and student achievement, while school placements provide you with opportunities to work as part of a leadership team and learn from key experiences. You won’t lose out on pay either, unless you’re earning megabucks. They’ll match your salary up to £50,000 per year. Plus you’ll visit exemplary schools both in the UK and abroad.

The programme is highly structured and offers many opportunities. For more information visit:

Trainee headteachers course for experienced deputies
Experienced deputies get a chance to hone their skills under the expert direction of a skilled headteacher in an urban school placement. This will be complemented by training days, which provide networking opportunities, coupled with guidance from an experienced mentor to ensure that you get the best from your placement.

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Or if none of this is right for you, and you have at least five years’ successful experience of headship, then why not become a consultant to struggling schools?

Find out more by visiting