Developing leaders


This programme offers light touch support to ‘middle leaders’ in the planning, implementation and evaluation of an initiative of their school’s own choosing, over a period of up to one year. This provides a transferable model of school improvement, in one specific area, and is based on a belief that professional development and school improvement go hand in hand. The external support helps those involved to reflect on the process, so that they can use this either in implementing future initiatives or helping other colleagues to do so. This programme builds on a series of three-day courses on the subject co-ordinator’s role and, more specifically, a project funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Foundation for the development of middle leaders in Oxfordshire. The evaluation of these courses demonstrated their value to individuals participating, and their schools, and suggested ways of further enhancing their value.


This programme is for ‘middle leaders’, that is deputy heads or key stage or subject co-ordinators/ leaders, in primary schools. This is intended as preliminary to the NPQH qualification for aspiring headteachers, but could form part of the work towards the qualification for those engaged in it. Ideally, this programme will be run for a group of schools in a local area, such as that covered by a local authoirty or multi-academy trust. This offers an economy of scale for the introductory sessions, and provides significant opportunities for networking across schools.


The central core of the programme consists of:

  • an introduction to the programme, best conducted as a whole group. This involves a discussion of the principles of school improvement, choosing an area suitable for intervention, and planning the initiative. This involves a minimum of two sessions, ideally consisting of one and a half or two days.
  • the teachers involved discussing and drafting (in their own school) an action plan;
  • a school visit to comment on and refine the action plan;
  • a mid-way session to review progress individually for a half-day; and
  • an end of project evaluation half-day, collectively where this is undertaken as a group.

This can be supplemented where required by support by email and phone and an additional session where this is undertaken as a group.

Each teacher is encouraged to produce a written report of around four to five sides of A4 in length, explaining the nature of the initiative, exploring the lessons learnt both in relation to the content and process, and examining the implications for school improvement.

Each school /provider is expected to allow each teacher about five days of release for work in his/her own school, in addition to the time for attending the central core of the programme. This may vary to some extent depending on the size of school.


The intended outcomes are:

  • for the teacher, an opportunity to plan, implement and evaluate a significant in-school initiative using external support to reflect on the processes involved in school improvement to enhance their own professional development and that of colleagues;
  • for the school, an opportunity to develop and evaluate a model of school improvement, transferable to other areas of school life and individuals, as well as the benefit of the specific initiative; and
  • for the local partnership, where appropriate, a chance to extend learning networks across schools, by reflecting on the content and process of each in-school initiative.