Press release

New leadership for children in need

Gove: We will recruit more great heads to turn round weaker schools, and extend the academy model so strong schools can help weaker schools.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The Education Secretary Michael Gove has today set out radical new measures to help tackle entrenched underperformance in England’s schools.

Speaking today at the National College New Heads conference, Mr Gove announced plans to more than double the number of National Leaders of Education (NLEs) - outstanding headteachers committed to supporting struggling schools.

Watch a video of Michael Gove’s speech

The number of NLEs will rise from 393 to 1000 by 2014. Superb heads joining the programme will be expected to use their skills and experience to advise struggling schools and help them improve. The role of NLEs will also be strengthened and extended in the white paper, with new incentives for the most dramatic improvements in performance.

NLEs need to have demonstrated sustained high performance in their own school before being awarded this new status, and they will only maintain NLE status if they succeed in turning around underperforming schools. The NLE model has a proven track record. Primary schools that received NLE support in 2007-08 saw a ten percentage point increase in pupils reaching the expected level by age 11 and in secondary schools pupils’ success at GCSE improved twice as fast as the national average.

Michael Gove said:

Great schools are the product of great leadership. There are many superb heads in our state system doing a wonderful job. But there are also many schools which are still not giving children the start in life they deserve. We still have one of the most unequal education systems in the world and half of young people leave school without the basic qualifications you need to succeed.

That’s why we will invest in recruiting more great heads to turn round our weaker schools and extend the academy model so more strong schools can help weaker schools. The coalition government is relentlessly focused on making our school system one of the best in the world and making opportunity more equal.

Further information

  • The cost of expanding the Leaders in Education programme will rise from roughly £4.2 million in academic year 2010 to 11, to £7.2 million by 2013 to 14.
  • We will allow for the numbers of NLEs and LLEs to double over the next four years. Currently there are 1,161 LLEs and 393 NLEs. We expect this to rise to around 2,000 LLEs and 1,000 NLEs, while maintaining the stringent criteria and quality assurance processes that have made the scheme so successful to date.
  • NLEs are serving headteachers who have achieved excellent results in their schools, in inspections, national tests and examinations. Alongside staff in their schools - which are identified as National Support Schools (NSSs) - NLEs use their knowledge and experience to provide additional leadership capacity to schools in challenging circumstances.
  • Local Leaders of Education (LLEs) are successful headteachers who provide coaching and mentoring support to headteachers of other schools. LLEs enable partner schools to build capacity for sustainable improvement. The LLE model is a partnership with local authorities, enabling each local authority to create a pool of LLEs that is then deployed flexibly based on need in the area.
  • The average rate of improvement in 53 underperforming schools supported by the programme in 2008 to 09 was 6.4 per cent, compared with a 4.7 per cent average rate of improvement for all underperforming schools. Primary schools that received NLE support in 2007 to 08 saw a 10 percentage point increase in pupils reaching the expected level by age 11 and in secondary schools pupils’ success at GCSE improved twice as fast as the national average (Hill and Matthews, 2010).
  • In June 2010, the report, Schools leading schools II: The growing impact of National Leaders of Education (Robert Hill and Peter Matthews), continues to chart the success of the programme and confirms that ‘NLEs and NSSs are no longer about potential but about solid and persuasive achievement’.

DfE enquiries

Published 16 November 2010