National College for School Leadership

National College for School Leadership
National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services

The college's Learning and Conference Centre in Nottingham
Abbreviation NCLSCS
Motto Inspiring leaders to improve children's lives
Formation 2000
Legal status Non-departmental public body
Purpose/focus School and college leadership in England
Location Jubilee Campus of the University of Nottingham, Triumph Road, NG8 1DH
Region served England
Chief Executive Steve Munby
Main organ NCLSCS Governing Council
Parent organization DfE
Affiliations University of Nottingham
Website NCLSCS

The National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services (formerly known as the National College for School Leadership) is a British government-funded non-departmental public body (NDPB) which offers head teachers, school leaders and senior children's services leaders opportunities for professional leadership development.



Established in 2000 as the National College for School Leadership, its physical centre - a learning and conference centre (LCC) situated in a striking building designed by Sir Michael Hopkins on the Jubilee Campus of the University of Nottingham - was opened on 24 October 2002 by Tony Blair. It cost £28m and was known as the Sandhurst of teachers.

Name change

The college, which changed its name to the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services in September 2009, exists to serve school, children's centre and children's services leaders and to improve leadership through the highest quality professional development, strategic initiatives and by providing considered and informed advice to government.


The college's leadership development programme provision includes the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).


The college is sponsored by the Department for Education and has a primary remit for England, though its work has a strong international reputation.

It operates five sites - the LCC, at Ruddington and small offices in central London, Wolverhampton and Bolton. The headquarters is at the southern end of the Jubilee Campus.


The four corporate goals underpinning the college's work are:

  1. Inspiring new leaders: identifying, inspiring and developing future leaders to sustain the supply of talent
  2. Providing great leadership development: giving all leaders the expertise they need to become great leaders by providing guidance and support tailored to individual needs, access to knowledge and resources, and unrivalled leadership development and networking opportunities
  3. Empowering successful leaders: harnessing the expertise of the best leaders to drive improvement beyond their own schools and organisations
  4. Shaping future leadership: supporting leaders to adapt the way they work to meet changing demands, influencing policy and advising government

Since 2000, the college has provided over 230,000 programme places, with 96% of secondary schools and 79% of primary schools taking part in at least one of its five core programmes. Between 2005 and 2007 secondary schools engaged with the college’s core programmes made up to four times the improvement in their 5 A*-C KS4 results compared to non-engaged schools. In addition, schools leaders have a very positive perception of the college[1]:

  • 87% of head teachers think that the National College has a positive impact on education
  • 88% of school leaders who have been on the National College’s programmes think that their involvement has developed their leadership skills

Key areas of work

National Leaders of Education / London Leadership Strategy

Since 2006 the college has identified over 300 National Leaders of Education. These are outstanding school leaders, who, along with their schools (National Support Schools), have the capacity to provide leadership support for underperforming or struggling schools and have volunteered to provide that support. Close to a quarter of a million of children in schools facing the most challenging circumstances have benefited from the expertise of National Leaders of Education and their National Support School staff. The approach builds on the college’s London Leadership Strategy, which forms part of the City Challenge. The London Leadership Strategy harnesses the best heads to provide support to struggling schools, building leadership capacity at all levels of the supported school.

In both the NLE and LLS initiatives there is a strong trend of above national average improvement in both the supported and the supporting schools. In 2008 the Secretary of State announced that the number of National Leaders of Education and National Support will increase to 500 by 2012. The LLS approach has now been expanded into Greater Manchester and the Black Country as part of the City Challenge.

Entrepreneurial leaders - Developing the role of School Business Managers(SBMs)

SBMs ensure that schools are more financially and administratively efficient, whilst managing crucial relationships with external stakeholders such as business and higher education – harnessing wider resources and inputs to improve the learning experience of pupils. Research tells us that they have the potential to save up to a third of an individual headteachers’ time, allowing heads to focus on the ‘core’ work of the school i.e. ensuring effective teaching and raising standards.

Since 2002 the college has developed two training routes for SBMs: the Certificate of School Business Management (CSBM) and Diploma for School Business Management (DSBM). Over 5,000 school business managers, or bursars, have completed NCSL's national bursar training programmes. Almost 1,900 participants enrolled in the programmes in 2006–07. The success of these mean that most secondary schools now have access to high quality business management. The challenge is how to secure this in more schools, particularly primary schools. The college is running demonstration projects to investigate and evaluate how a single School Business Director (individuals with high level business and finance expertise) can provide support to a group of small primary schools.

Growing tomorrow’s leaders today - Succession Planning

Like many other professions and industries across the world, school leadership is being affected by the retirement of many experienced leaders as the ‘baby boomer generation’ head into retirement . 64% of head teachers are over 50 years old and 33% of head teachers are over 55 years old. It currently takes an average of twenty years to develop Newly Qualified Teachers into head teachers and a systematic culture of talent development is not yet embedded into all schools.

The college has adopted a ‘local solutions’ approach to address this issue, based its advice to the Secretary of State in 2006. The college is providing support to schools and local authorities in order to identify high quality leaders with potential to become head teachers. We are also providing specific and targeted support in those areas facing the greatest recruitment challenges, namely schools in the south east and east of the country, faith schools and rural primary schools.

Good progress is being made, with an increase in the number of headship vacancies being permanently filled despite an increase in the number of retirements. This is contrary to initial predictions which showed a huge expected increase in permanent headship vacancies up to 2010 and beyond. This is an issue that will continue to require close attention in the next few years as the number of head teachers and senior leaders entering retirement reaches its peak.

New models of school leadership

The National College has been researching and supporting the range of different models of school leadership that are emerging in England since 2005. Examples include executive headships, co-headships, families of schools, all-through schools, trusts and chains. Schools choose to develop these new models in response to a range of factors such as succession planning or securing partnerships across schools and wider agencies, state schools and independent schools, and between schools and local businesses and higher education institutions.

The college’s current activities in this area include consultancy support to schools developing new models, research, and the inclusion of relevant modules within our leadership programmes. For example in March this year a small group of National Leaders of Education enrolled on the college’s fellowship programme worked together for a week to address the question: ‘How can the school system develop the most effective number of trusts/federations/chains and what would be the associated accountability framework?’ As part of the recent 21st Century Schools White Paper, the college has been asked to lead a leadership and partnership national support programme to provide localised support for emerging partnerships between schools and others.

The National College is also developing proposals to offer tailored support to experienced Academy vice principals through the Associate Headteacher programme and, in partnership with the Independent Association of Academy Principals, aspiring Academy principals through additional modules within the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).

Every Child Matters (ECM)

The college is committed to developing school and children’s centre leaders with the skills and experience to work effectively with other agencies and ensure children and young people have access to the resources and opportunities they need for full and healthy development. The college has developed the ECM leadership Direct website which explores the implications of ECM for schools and children’s centres and their leaders. The site contains high quality research and tools to enable leaders to inform their work through access to some of the very best practice that exists in the system. The college also provides key programmes such as Multi Agency Team Development Programme (MATD) and the National Professional Qualification in Integrated Centre Leadership (NPQICL). MATD provides multi-disciplinary professionals, alongside their locality teams, with the space to develop different ways of working and to establish themselves as communities of practice. NPQICL is for leaders of children's centres with integrated services and gives them the opportunity to collaborate across the community and provide high quality services for babies, children and families.

Move to membership scheme

The college launched an enhanced membership scheme in September 2009, with every school leader having the opportunity to register as a member. This will replace the college's Leadership Network, building on its success and ensuring more leaders have access to its benefits. School, children's centre and children's services leaders will be able to choose the level and nature of their engagement with the college.

Future Direction

Developing leaders for the 21st Century - Re-designed NPQH

The college is responsible for the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), which became mandatory for all new headteachers in Spring 2009. The college has redesigned the qualification so that it now focuses solely on those who can demonstrate they are 12 to 18 months from headship and are committed to applying for posts immediately after graduating. There is also a much greater emphasis on practical learning and gaining experience of another school/context. The redesigned NPQH started in September 2008 and feedback has been positive.

Making a Difference: Future leadership development provision

The college is committed to providing leadership development that reflects the ever changing needs of our schools and society itself.

The college is undertaking a review of its leadership development programmes. It has worked with the profession to identify its four core curriculum areas which will underpin its leadership development programmes in the coming years: leadership of learning and teaching; outward facing leadership; growing leaders; and the leadership of change. There will be an increased emphasis on: developing middle leaders in order to achieve consistent high quality learning and teaching and classroom practice within and across schools; practical ‘in situ’ support from experienced heads for new headteachers; and development for excellent heads who wish to support other leaders and struggling schools that need improvement.

It is proposed that the National College’s leadership development provision will become more practical and work based, with greater responsibility given to local clusters of schools. This is based on a growing expectation from leaders – including a new generation of teachers and future leaders - for more ‘on the job’ development. It also reflects research which shows that the skills required of modern school leaders are best developed through practice, peer support and reflection.

In autumn 2008 the college held a consultation with school leaders on its proposals for future school leadership development. Delegates strongly supported the proposals.

Extension to the college’s Remit: leadership of children’s services

In December 2008, the college’s remit was extended by the Secretary of State to include the training and development of directors and aspiring directors of children’s services. As a result, the National College for School Leadership changed its name to the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services from 15 September 2009.

As part of this extended remit the college is:

  • Leading on the development of new provision, which will offer structured training and support to every Director of Children’s Services (DCS) and those close to stepping up to that role
  • Developing two separate programmes, one for serving DCSs, starting in autumn 2009 and one for aspiring DCSs, starting in 2010

The college is developing these programmes in partnership with the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) and the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC). The work is also being supported by an expert group of critical friends, including serving DCSs.

The college is also chairing a group of partners to develop proposals for more coherent support for senior and middle leaders throughout the workforce.

See also

  • Training and Development Agency for Schools


  1. ^ Making a Difference

External links


Coordinates: 52°57′00″N 1°11′11″W / 52.9499°N 1.1865°W / 52.9499; -1.1865

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