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National leaders of education: a guide for potential applicants


The aim of the National Leader of Education (NLE) programme is to provide high quality school improvement support to underperforming schools.

In 2020 the NLE advisory group made a series of recommendations about the future of the programme.

These included selecting a new smaller, high-quality cadre of NLEs supported by a professional development offer. As a result, we will recruit a new cadre of NLEs for the 2022 to 2023 academic year.

All current NLE accreditation will end at the end of the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

The new cadre of NLEs will be made up of headteachers with experience of turning around schools who can provide additional school improvement capacity.

How to apply

We would encourage all eligible headteachers with a strong record of turning around schools to apply online to become an NLE.

To be eligible to apply, you must be named on an Ofsted report (since September 2005) as the headteacher of a school that:

has received an improved Ofsted rating from Requires Improvement (RI) to Outstanding or Inadequate to Good/Outstanding and been in post for at least a year before the inspection showing the improvement. (If you have left the school the inspection must be within 1 year of you leaving).

In addition, you must:

have had no Ofsted inspections resulting in a decline to RI or Inadequate whilst in post (excluding during the first year) or within 3 years after leaving a school

Exceptionally, where a potential candidate does not meet the eligibility criteria but can demonstrate a very strong record of school improvement at the expression of interest stage, they will be considered for progression to the full application stage.

The application process will be broken into 2 stages:

Stage 1 – expression of interest
Stage 2 – if successful at stage 1 candidates will be invited to submit an online application containing experience and skills-based questions

Expressions of interest open on 10 February and close on 6 March 2022.

The stage 2 online application will be available from mid March and will close on 24 April 2022. You will be notified by 30 June 2022 if your application has been successful.

Leaders of trusts with sponsor status do not need to apply to become NLEs, as they will continue to have the opportunity to be matched and provide improvement support through the Trust and School Improvement Offer.

Please contact us through the online portal if you have any questions about the application process.

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