Headship Programme

For senior leaders preparing to reach headship in 12-18 months, or headteachers looking for further development
For leaders preparing for headship in 12-18 months

The Headship Programme supports aspiring school leaders to achieve headship in 12 to 18 months and become great leaders of schools in challenging contexts. Blending high-quality training, 1:1 coaching and learning directly from exceptional headteachers, the programme empowers you to take your career to the next stage and transform the outcomes of the pupils you serve. The Headship Programme has been designed in line with the requirements for the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and our programme team ensure you are fully supported to complete this qualification successfully.  

Why join the programme?  

· Receive bespoke, evidence-based training for the headteacher role, delivered by experts from across the sector  

· Experience tailored 1:1 executive and career development coaching from a successful current or former headteacher  

· Gain tailored career development, with full control over the support you need to progress – from application guidance, to confidence development or interview practice 

· Share learning and  insight within a close-knit peer group of current and aspiring heads on the programme with you   

· Experience engaging face to face delivery of training content that includes and goes beyond the curriculum for the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).   

· Receive personalised support from the Headship Programme team throughout, in particular in supporting you to complete your NPQH 

· Be part of Ambition School Leadership’s national network of more than 5,000 leaders and 1,600 schools, sharing ideas and best practice  

“Having one-to-one time with experienced headteachers raised my confidence. They were so honest and realistic that they helped me realise my own strengths.”  

Miriam Manderson, Deputy Headteacher, Alperton Community School, London  

“This was the preparation I needed to make the move into headship. Hearing from exceptional heads gave me something to aspire to, and the tailored training equipped me with the tools to lead a school in challenging circumstances.”  

James Pape, Principal, Oasis Academy Don Valley, Sheffield  

Applications are now OPEN for our first cohort, starting December 2017, enquire here to access the application form

Places on the Headship Programme are limited so please endeavour to submit your application as early as possible to ensure your place.

As we are looking for applicants whose next step is headship, the Headship Programme is suitable for applicants in the following roles:

  • Assistant Head (must have significant experience or be in a role commensurate to that of a deputy head)
  • Deputy Head
  • Associate Heads
  • Acting/Interim Head
  • The Programme is also suitable for new Heads/Head of School who are looking for further development/to gain their NPQH. 

To join the Headship Programme:

  • You must have the track record, potential and commitment to become the headteacher of a challenging school within 12 – 18 months.
  • You will have evidence of having made substantial whole school positive impact.
  • You will be an exceptional teacher with QTS or QTLS. 
  • You are committed to working in a school in a challenging context

Places on the Headship Programme are limited so please endeavour to submit your application as early as possible to ensure your place. We will award places with a preference to candidates working in schools in the most challenging circumstances in alignment with the mission of Ambition School Leadership.


  • What is the recruitment process?

    It is a one-stage recruitment process, consisting of an application form that includes four essay style questions. However if more information is required, we will then hold a short interview phone call with candidates to explore their experience in more depth.

  • What does the programme involve?

    The Headship Programme equips you with the skills and knowledge to be an effective headteacher and offers a package of tailored career support for ambitious leaders. It comprises:

    • Three residential networking and training events plus regional modules  – all delivered by exceptional facilitators who have achieved impact in challenging schools 

    • 1:1 executive and career development coaching as part of a flexible package of support to help you identify and address your areas for development to reach the next stage in your career

    •  A nine-day placement at a contrasting school to develop experience of working across schools to deliver impact.

    • Training events target the key challenges we know to be part of successful school leadership and raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, including: building an aspirational school culture; using data; performance management and finance and governance practices. 

    • Participants will have the chance to gain the National College-accredited National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). This programme includes access to all materials necessary for completion of the NPQH. 


  • What impact does the programme have?

    There is powerful evidence of the success and impact of the headteachers in our network: 

    • Over 260 of our participants across our programmes have achieved headship, and this course design has drawn on what we know specifically helps teachers working in challenging environments. 
    • Disadvantaged pupils in schools led by heads in the Ambition School Leadership network make more progress and achieve higher grades than those at other schools 


  • Do I have to complete the NPQH as part of this programme?

    No, you may opt out of completing the NPQH qualification as part of the Headship Programme if this is your preference. The price of the course will reduce to £3,250 if you choose this option.

  • How do we assess candidates for this programme?

    We look for evidence of mission alignment and the programme selects on a series of criteria about readiness for headship to ensure participants are at the right stage in their career to achieve the NPQH. 

    To determine if a candidate is 12- 18 months from Headship, in reviewing the application form, we consider previous roles and evidence of leadership experience against 11 areas that sit within Ambition School Leadership's technical and behavioural competency framework.