Find out about becoming a national leader of education (NLE), what's involved and how to apply.
National leaders of education are headteachers, executive heads and CEOs, who have experience of effectively supporting schools in challenging circumstances. If you meet the current eligibility criteria you might want to apply to become a national leader of education. In this role, you and your staff would provide high-quality support to those most in need, in addition to leading your own school.
NLEs work alongside teaching schools and other system leaders to support schools in delivering educational excellence everywhere to help raise standards.
There are currently over 1,100 NLEs. Our goal is to increase this by up to 700 more NLEs by 2020, targeting recruitment in areas of greatest need.
Tranche 20 is a targeted application round focusing on areas of greatest need to ensure that all schools can access high-quality support. If you can provide support to schools in the target areas, even if you’re situated outside of a target area, please specify how you’d do this within your application. Your application will be considered on an individual basis by the designation panel.
National support schools
If you’re selected as an NLE, your school will become a national support school (NSS). This is to recognise the fact that your staff are likely to work alongside you in any support you may provide.
The application round to become a national leader of education is now closed. Register your interest in becoming an NLE.
Who can apply
To become an NLE, you and your school need to meet very specific criteria.
You need to:
- be judged an outstanding serving headteacher with at least 3 years’ headship experience
- expect to remain at your current school for at least 2 years after being selected
- be accountable for 1 or more schools that meet the NSS criteria
- have the full support of your school’s governing body and director of children’s services or senior educational professional
For your school to qualify as an NSS, it must:
- be judged as outstanding by Ofsted
- show consistently high levels of pupil performance and progress or continued improvement over the last 3 years
- be above the current minimum standards set by the government
- have outstanding senior and middle leaders who have demonstrated that they have a strong track record and the capacity to provide significant support to under-performing schools
Notes for independent school applicants
If your school is not inspected by Ofsted, it must be judged excellent by the Independent Schools Inspectorate or Schools Inspection Service in the areas of:
- the quality of the pupils’ achievements
- their learning, attitudes and skills
- the quality of leadership and management
Independent schools are also required to give evidence and/or show a commitment to supporting maintained schools.
What an NLE does
Your work would be tailored to the needs of the supported school. You can get involved in different ways, including:
- working alongside their staff
- working alone
- your staff providing support under your initial direction
We maintain a school-to-school support directory for people looking to commission the services of NLEs and other system leaders. You would negotiate a deal to provide your services with the relevant local authority, school or other organisation.
NLEs and/or their NSS staff are expected to have a placement at least once over the course of a year, supporting a headteacher and his or her school.
The length and type of work can vary significantly. It could involve up to 3 to 4 days of support per week for 2 years or more.
We provide an annual bursary that can be used to cover the costs of the NSS, such as:
- travel or supply cover for meetings and training events
- travel to an initial meeting to discuss a potential placement
- the cost of recruiting additional staff to increase capacity in the school
You would be responsible, on behalf of your school, for negotiating appropriate funding for placements. It is up to your governing body to decide whether you or other staff are rewarded financially for your individual work in a placement.
Training and development
All new NLEs will attend a free induction workshop. You will also be invited to join local leadership groups where you can share experiences and advice.
If you have an interest in challenging yourself further, you can offer extra support to schools, including:
It is important that you inform us when you agree to a placement, so that we can demonstrate the impact of the programme. If you don’t provide any support for a long period, your status as NLE will be reviewed.
NLE and NSS tranche 20 target areas and phase/sector
|Derby||Primary and secondary|
|Derbyshire||Primary and secondary|
East of England
|Cambridgeshire||Primary and secondary|
|Norfolk||Primary and secondary|
|Peterborough||Primary and secondary|
|Northumberland||Primary and secondary|
|Redcar and Cleveland||Secondary|
|Blackburn with Darwen||Primary|
|Blackpool||Primary and secondary|
|Chesire West and Chester||Primary|
|Liverpool||Primary and secondary|
|Tameside||Primary and secondary|
|Brighton and Hove||Primary and secondary|
|East Sussex||Primary and secondary|
|Isle of Wight||Primary and secondary|
|West Berkshire||Primary and secondary|
|Staffordshire||Primary and secondary|
|Telford and Wrekin||Primary|
Yorkshire and The Humber
|Bradford||Primary and secondary|
|Doncaster||Primary and secondary|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||Secondary|
|North East Lincolnshire||Primary and secondary|
Contact an NLE in your area to work with you to support your school, using our school to school support directory.
If you would like to know more about NLEs and NSSs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our help desk.
Teaching school and system leader help desk
Telephone 0800 085 0984
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, excluding UK bank holidays.