National leaders of education: a guide for potential applicants
- National College for Teaching and Leadership
- Part of:
- Teaching schools and system leadership: how you can get involved
- 21 March 2014
- Last updated:
- 27 March 2017, see all updates
- Applies to:
Find out about becoming a national leader of education (NLE), what's involved and how to apply.
National leaders of education (NLEs) are strong school leaders, who have experience of effectively supporting schools in challenging circumstances. NLEs work alongside teaching schools and other system leaders to provide high quality support to those who need it most.
If you meet the current eligibility criteria you might want to apply to become a national leader of education. The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) has now introduced a more sophisticated and balanced approach to designating system leaders – one which relies less heavily on Ofsted judgements and more on timely and accurate data, and the skills and track record of those applying.
Together these improvements will help to ensure that more of the most effective school leaders and schools are able to provide high quality support, especially in areas of the country where this support is most needed.
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 closed on 1 May 2017. The next application round will open in Autumn 2017.
Register your interest to receive notifications when the round opens.
Who can apply
To become an NLE, you and your school need to meet very specific criteria.
You need to have:
- a track record of strong school leadership with at least 3 years headship experience
- a track record of providing effective school-to-school support which has led to improved outcomes for pupils over a sustained period
- the full support from the school’s governing body and a reference from a commissioner of school-to-school support
For your school to qualify as an NSS, it must:
- be judged to be at least good by Ofsted
- demonstrate sustained high pupil performance and progress over the last 3 years
- have the capacity to support schools in challenging circumstances to improve
Notes for independent school applicants
Independent schools must have been judged good by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) or the School Inspection Service (SIS).
For further information please read the NLE and NSS eligibility criteria.
What an NLE does
NLEs usually work with schools identified as being in need of significant improvement by the Department for Education, Ofsted, a teaching school, a regional schools commissioner, local authority or diocese.
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 their 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.
Pupil premium reviewer
A pupil premium review looks at how a school is spending its pupil premium funding. Pupil premium reviewers work with a school to improve their pupil premium strategy so that they spend the funding on approaches shown to be effective in improving the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.
NLEs will be assessed against our pupil premium reviewer eligibility criteria. If successful, as part of your role as an NLE you will automatically be added to our pupil premium reviewer online directory.
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 do not provide any support for a long period, your status as NLE will be reviewed in line with the Review of Designation policy.
Target areas will be published when the next application round opens.
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 becoming an NLE and NSS, please contact your local teaching school alliance or your regional Teaching School Council representative or by emailing the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching school and system leader help desk
Telephone 0800 085 0984
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, excluding UK bank holidays.
Published: 21 March 2014
Updated: 27 March 2017
- Application round now open
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- National Leaders of Education application round closed at 5pm on Thursday 16 June 2016.
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