The Government said it would offer up to 100,000 heads and senior staff unrivalled opportunities for professional development.
The college will immediately take charge of existing headship training, which costs pound;100 million a year. Under the leadership of Heather du Quesnay it will also provide an online centre for debate (ncslonline.gov.uk), host conferences and disseminate research.
It will operate from temporary premises until its pound;25m new HQ opens at Nottingham University in 2002.
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "School leaders will have the same professional development opportunities as senior executives in the civil service, the police and armed forces."
The chairman of the college is Richard Greenhalgh, chair of Unilever UK (see Profile, page 25).
The TES asked heads and deputies for their views about th new college and headship training.
"It is about time we had a national school leadership college. I would have been happier if the head of this organisation had been a headteacher - but I am sure she will do a good job."
David Oliver, head at Stowmarket high, Stowmarket, Suffolk
"School leaders definitely need to have access to something of quality. With the new college being online, I will have access to a wealth of information."
David Floyd, head at Thomas Mills high, Framlingham, Suffolk
"Even the interview (for the national professional qualification for headship) helps you focus your own ideas as regards clear directions for a school.
Lesley Koller, deputy at Hope school, Wigan, Greater Manchester
"The demands of the job mean that assuming a good teacher makes a good head does not necessarily follow. The range of skills you need are vast and it is nice to have some professional training."
Steve Carroll, deputy at Mapledown school, Barnet, north-west London