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Aspiring Headteacher Programme

aspiring-headsThe proposal
As an NPQH graduate or someone identified as being 'close to headship' you represent the next generation of new school leaders and we would like to invite you to apply to join this programme which will run from February 2017 to July 2017.

The background
You will know that some sections of the school system face a major recruitment challenge. More specifically:

  • Nearly a third of all headteachers are aged over 55, and due to retire imminently
  • Almost one-third of primary and secondary headships are re-advertised, because no suitable candidate comes forward
  • Too few candidates are putting themselves forward for the role of headteacher.

However, over 90% of heads say they love their jobs and find it both challenging and rewarding.

The approach
Bedfordshire Borough, Bedford Central, Luton and Hertfordshire are delighted to be working in partnership to deliver this well established programme for Aspiring Heads. A characteristic of the programme is that it will be driven by your development needs. You will be asked to share these so that we may begin the process of jointly devising a relevant programme for your individual professional development. Previous cohorts have participated in face to face training days, shadowing activities, mock interviews and an inspirational regional aspiring heads' conference.

Future leaders can learn about the role by working alongside experienced headteachers. In addition to the core events you will be offered the chance to take up a coaching and shadowing opportunity in another school that will offer you a first-rate learning experience to meet some of your development needs.

We plan to do all that we can to address and then to remove any barriers that are currently preventing you from attaining your first headship post or getting onto the NPQH programme. Throughout the programme you will be supported by a range of people including LA staff and experienced local headteachers. A number of delegates from this year achieved headship before the end of the programme!

See below for the programme outline.

The cost
The programme is heavily subsidised by a National College regional succession planning grant. The cost of the programme, including a twilight action planning session, 2 days core training, a one day conference and 1-1 support from a leadership consultant is £300.

How to secure a place
Places are limited so an early application, supported by your Headteacher is advised. Simply email Tony Cotton at with a brief outline of why this programme is of interest. Closing date for an application is Friday 3rd February.

Outline of Programme

To provide opportunities for NPQH graduates (trainee heads) to:

  • experience leadership in different environments
  • undertake practical CPD
  • share practice first hand
  • contribute to raising standards across Hertfordshire schools
  • participate in professional networks for aspiring heads
  • prepare for future headship

To provide opportunities for teachers applying for NPQH to:

  • Identify and gain the range and depth of professional experience required in order to secure a place on the programme.

To provide opportunities for schools to:

  • strengthen leadership development
  • raise standards by shared working

Target groups

  • NPQH graduates committed to actively seeking primary school headship with the next 6 – 18 months
  • Primary school teachers deemed by their school to be ready to apply for NPQH within the next 6 months.

Course dates for 2017

Event Date and Venue Details 
Launch Monday 6th February (4.15pm-6pm)
Challney Boys, Luton
Twilight Launch Event. Introuction which includes action planning with your current Headteacher.
Conference Tuesday 28th February (All day)
Puttridge Bury, Luton
Leadership and Diversity Conference.
Session 1 Tuesday 14th March (All day)
Challney Boys, Luton
Managing complex change and difficult staff.
Session 2 Wednesday 19th April (All day)
Challney Boys, Luton
Essential skills for Headship.
Session 3 Wednesday 7th June (All day)
The Shire, Hillborough Junior, Luton
Application for NPQH/Headship.
Session 4 Wednesday 5th July (All day)
The Shire, Hillborough Junior, Luton 
Demystifying school finance.

Programme outline
The content of the programme will be in response to the development needs you identify. Last year the following activities took place:

  • Twilight action planning session with participants and their headteachers
  • 1 whole day and 2 half day's training based on needs of a majority of the group
  • One day regional aspiring leaders' conference
  • Shadowing the headteacher of a contrasting school (during October/November)
  • One week running your school without the presence of your headteacher
  • Feedback meeting – Twilight
  • Support and consultancy from leadership adviser – ongoing
  • Mock Interviews
  • Personalised element


  • It is the intention that participants will apply for their first headship during or within 18 months of the start of the programme.
  • 90% of participants will be confident to apply for headship by December 2017
  • 100% of participants will be confident to apply for headship by December 2018
  • 30% of participants will gain an interview by February 2018
  • 90% of participants will gain an interview by December 2018
  • At least 75% of the participants to move into headship within 18 months of the end of the programme

What did participants say about the programme?
"I enjoyed hearing from serving heads what inspired and continues to inspire them to do the job. Visiting successful schools, hearing stories of progress from unpromising starts and seeing good leadership in operation were highlights for me."

"Sessions were organised in such a way that all participants felt they could discuss concerns and experiences in confidence. The choices of guest speakers were also inspirational this included a workshop on Work Life Balance run by Jean Jones and a visit from a Headteacher who had experienced many challenges when she was new to headship."

"I found it a very beneficial and challenging course and it gave me the confidence and self-belief I needed to go for it."

"I really enjoyed the programme and its contents and I felt it gave me a much deeper understanding of the head teacher's role and the skill set required. My confidence also grew because it was made clear that not every new head or aspiring head would have all the skills in place and that support was available to develop them, plus the experience of being a head was a very steep learning curve and that the opportunity to develop these skills would soon occur."