This much I know about…where you can find school leadership wisdom in a challenging world

I have been a teacher for 32 years, a head teacher for 17 years and, at the age of 56, this much I know about where you can find school leadership wisdom in a challenging world.

I am up early on a Saturday finishing my slides for next Tuesday night’s National College  of Education Senior Leadership Masters “Turning Theory into Practice” session on the inner-landscape of leadership. I love this work. It has prompted me and my co-tutor, Stephen Tierney (@leadinglearner) to bundle up what we have learnt in over 60 years of teaching and leading in schools, ready to hand over to the next generation of school leaders.

I wish such leadership programmes had been available to me 29 years ago when I first became a member of SLT. I have largely learnt my leadership skills by reading (about leadership), doing (leadership roles) and watching (colleagues and learning from them). My NPQH, completed in 2000, was functionally pretty average, to be honest.

Something like the new suite of NCE leadership courses would have been perfect. Throughout my career I have learnt things retrospectively: Michael Fullan’s Six Secrets of Change, for instance, helped me see that what I had learnt haphazardly as a head teacher through trial and error was pretty much spot on. But it took a great deal of errorwith the accompanied personal turmoil errors of leadership bring – for me to learn what Fullan already knew. If only I had had the wisdom of a mentor like Fullan two decades ago to guide me as I began my journey into headship.

But, as we know, The past is a foreign countrythey do things differently there. Presently, our school leaders need more guidance than ever.

“Some are born to lead, some achieve leadership, and others have leadership thrust upon them.” Lots of you will have had leadership thrust upon you in the past 12 months. As we re-position our schools at the centre of our communities to support our most vulnerable to re-engage with learning, school leaders at all levels also need support, support from the most experienced amongst us.

Going forward, we will all have to work beyond our experience and capacity in the wake of the pandemic. The worst thing would be for school leaders to have to scrabble around for advice, like I did all those years ago. Instead, in the shape of the NCE leadership programmes, such advice is available, and often for free through the Apprenticeship Levy.

It follows, then, that the investment in leadership represented by the NCE suite of leadership programmes could not have been developed at a more opportune time.

Along with a number of highly experienced and successful school leaders and academics, Stephen Tierney (@leadinglearner) and I are tutors on the Level 7 Masters programme.

We also hope to have tutor groups on the self-funded MAs in Leadership in Education and Science of Learning.  For the current cohort of learners we deliver a series of sixteen Tuesday evening seminars to extend the excellent programme materials by setting them in the context of day-to-day school leadership. That is why I am up at silly o’clock on a Saturday!

If you are responsible for the professional development of staff – at a school, multi-academy trust or local authority level – and would like a discussion with Stephen or me about establishing a cohesive leadership professional development programme, please email me at

Below there are five programmes that may be either fully or partly funded using the Apprenticeship Levy and below that two Masters programmes that may be school/self-funded.

The following five programmes may all be funded by the Apprenticeship Levy.  The Instructional Coaching, Education Management & Senior Leaders Masters are fully funded with the MBA in Educational Management being part funded.  The training element of the Graduate Teacher Programme may be funded from the Apprenticeship Levy.  If you are interested in any of these programmes please register your interest by completing the Google Form at the bottom of this page.

Instructional Coaching Programme (Level 4 Assessor/Coach)
This new fifteen month is designed for Early Career Framework & NQT mentors; ITT Leads and Leadership/ Teaching & Learning coaches.  It brings together the highly regarded Basic Coaching (Andy Buck) and Walkthrus (Tom Sherrington & Oliver Caviglioli) programmes.  For schools, academies and Trusts seeking to establish a coaching culture it will provide the necessary professional coaching framework, standards and practice.  The programme itself consists of twelve online professional learning sessions.  More information is available in the PDF below.
Level 4 – Instructional Coaching Programme (Apprenticeship Levy Funded)

Education Management Programme (Level 5 Departmental/Operations Manager)
This popular eighteen month programme is available to middle leaders and aspiring senior leaders.  These colleagues are the powerhouse of every school; implementing policy at a departmental, phase or year group level.  The programme is built upon the Leadership Matters programme (Andy Buck) with its focus on servant leadership, coaching and performance achievement.  It consists of five key modules, deliver via professional learning days and twilight seminars, and a school leadership project.  More information is available in the PDF below.
Level 5 – Education Managament Programme (Apprenticeship Levy Funded)

Senior Leadership Programme (Level 7 Senior Leader & MA in School Leadership & Management)
The L7 Masters combined with Apprenticeship has been a qualification of unique genius, in that it combines course content full of relevant theory from both education and the business world, with the doing-it-for-real element of applying what is learnt to what is happening in the delegates’ schools right now. The fact that the L7 Masters is fully funded by the Apprenticeship Levy is just an added bonus. The main thing is the high quality teaching and learning that is taking place, which is grounded in research evidence and delivered by some of the best practitioners in the country.

This is a highly regarded and increasingly influential two year programme for senior leaders, including headteachers, which also covers all the new National Professional Qualification for Headteachers (NPQH).  The programme consists of five core modules – Learning to Lead; Operations Management; Strategic Leadership; Innovation & Change and Leadership in Education – and a whole school change project.  More information is available in the PDF below.
Level 7 – Masters Senior Leadership Programme (Apprenticeship Levy Funded)

There are two other programmes that may be part-funded from the Apprenticeship Levy:

MBA in Education Management
This is an “invitation only” programme for system leaders; people with responsibility for leading a group of schools.  If you would like your name to be put forward for the programme and hear a little bit more about it please select the “MBA in Education Management” option when completing the form below.  More information is available in the PDF below.
MBA in Education Management (Part-funded by Apprenticeship Levy)

Graduate Teacher Programme
With teacher training bursaries slashed for 2021/22 many schools are looking at innovative ways to train graduates.  The Graduate Teacher Programme has many similarities to the Salaried Direct route that schools may be more familiar with.  More information is available in the PDF below.
Graduate Teacher Programme (Part-funded by Apprenticeship Levy)

School or Self-Funded Programmes
If you are interested in studying a school/ self-funded Masters then two MAs are available via the National College of Education: an MA in Leadership in Education and a MA in the Science of Learning.

Leadership in Education Masters
This is a twelve month programme for colleagues with four of more years leadership experience.  The programme delivers a research-based MA in Education with an intensive taught course on the key elements of leading a school.  It consists of five core modules – Learning to Lead; Operations Management; Strategic Leadership; Innovation & Change and Research Methodologies and Masters Writing.  More information is available in the PDF below.
Masters in Education – Leadership in Education (School or self-funded)

Leadership in Education Masters Handbook.pdf

Science of Learning Masters
This is a twelve month programme which seeks to develop teaching expertise through evidence-based research and promotes the scholarship required to reflect deeply and improve your own professional practice, and that of others.  It consists of five core modules – Curriculum; Neuroscience & Psychology of Learning; Literature Review – Contemporary Issues in Education; Assessment and Research Methodologies and Masters Writing.  More information is available in the PDF below.
Masters in Education – Science of Learning (School or self-funded)




About johntomsett

Headteacher in York. All views are my own.
This entry was posted in School Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s