Press release

£13 million to boost national school leaders network

One hundred talented leaders to be recruited to transform schools facing toughest challenges.

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


One hundred exceptional school leaders are being recruited to help turn around some of England’s most challenging schools, Schools Minister David Laws announced today (10 September 2014).

The government’s Talented Leaders programme aims to recruit the nation’s best and brightest school leaders and match them with schools that are facing some of the toughest challenges - predominantly those in rural, coastal or deprived areas that are finding it difficult to attract a great leader.

The Future Leaders Trust (TFLT), which is running the Talented Leaders initiative on behalf of the Department for Education, is inviting applications from top-performing heads or outstanding aspiring heads who want to move to schools where their expertise can help raise attainment and narrow the achievement gap between poorer pupils and their peers.

Heads will be expected to work not just with the school they move to, but with a network of schools to help drive up standards across the local area.

Speaking at the launch of the Talented Leaders programme event in London, Schools Minister David Laws said:

The importance of high-quality leadership in our schools cannot be overstated. We know there is a strong link between school leadership, quality of teaching, and outcomes for pupils. The Talented Leaders programme will spread the excellence and expertise of some of our brilliant school leaders.

If you are a head or an aspiring head who already has a proven track record of raising standards and improving the education offered to all children and you think you have what it takes to make a real difference to a school in need of a great leader then we want to hear from you.

The initiative will ensure even more schools can benefit from the knowledge and expertise of our very best school leaders, so that every child can reach their full potential.

The Talented Leaders programme forms part of the government’s drive to deliver the best schools and skills for young people so the next generation can succeed, and is an important part of the long-term economic plan.

The first cohort of top teaching talent will be deployed across up to 13 areas of the country where educational attainment and the quality of schools is often lower than pupils deserve. From September 2015, schools in north Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Bradford and Blackpool opting to take part in this programme will have the opportunity to appoint a great leader. Additional areas will come onboard in the coming months. Further leaders will be recruited and appointed by September 2016.

TFLT are seeking applications from headteachers and aspiring heads that are keen to make a real commitment to a school, its staff and its children.

Heath Monk, CEO of The Future Leaders Trust, said:

Great headteachers make great schools, but finding great heads is much harder in some areas in England. The Talented Leaders programme will give 100 exceptional people the support they need to help their students succeed.

We have 8 years of experience in developing effective and inspiring leaders able to transform the schools that need it most. Working together, we will help them make an immediate positive impact and to begin long-term, sustainable improvement.

Talented Leaders heads will join a nationwide network of exceptional school leaders, work together in local clusters and receive expert mentoring and ongoing development. As a result, thousands of young people across England will receive more choice and more opportunities for a successful future.

Applicants who pass the rigorous recruitment process will receive help to relocate to the areas where they are needed and the necessary professional support to turn their school around. The Talented Leader headteachers will commit to staying in the school for 3 years. However, if they choose they will be free to stay on at their school for longer.

As a further step towards tackling under-performance, the government is today also announcing a new £13 million School-to-School Support Fund which over the next 2 years will enable our existing pool of exceptional leaders - the National Leaders of Education - to help schools in challenging circumstances to improve. This will be coupled with an increase in the number of National Leaders of Education across the country to 1,400 by March 2016 so that more schools can access their expertise.

Notes to editors

  1. The Talented Leaders programme will be made up of exceptional headteachers and outstanding deputy heads who have a proven leadership track record. The initiative will deliver 100 school leaders over 2 cohorts. They will be deployed in a school for a minimum of 3 years. Area and school participation in the programme is voluntary, but they will need to meet eligibility criteria which identify those who will benefit most. For more details about the programme, eligibility criteria, and how to apply visit The Future Leaders Trust: Talented Leaders website.
  2. A package of professional support and development will be provided to successful applicants, including a coaching and mentoring programme, dedicated training, expert peer support, and funding to deliver sustainable long-term improvements for their school.
  3. Following a rigorous selection process the first of these leaders are due to be placed in schools from September 2015 across up to 13 areas, including: north Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Bradford and Blackpool.
  4. TFLT also delivers Future Leaders, a development programme for high-potential senior leaders who are committed to leading challenging schools. Since 2006, 90 Future Leaders have reached headship.
  5. National Leaders of Education (NLEs) support schools in challenging circumstances to improve in addition to leading their own outstanding schools. There are currently around 950 NLEs.
  6. NLEs will be able to bid to the School-to-School Support Fund for funding to enable direct improvement work with schools in challenging circumstances. Further details about the new fund will be announced in due course.

Talented Leader programme information and media enquiries

For more information about the Talented Leaders programme please call 0800 009 4142, email or visit

For media queries about the programme or to bid to speak to Heath Monk please contact:

DfE enquiries

Published 10 September 2014