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Government seeks 100 headteachers to overhaul most challenging schools

One hundred exceptional school leaders are to be recruited to help turn around some of England’s most challenging schools, the Department for Education announced today.

The government’s Talented Leaders programme aims to recruit the nation’s best headteachers and match them with schools facing the toughest challenges – predominantly those in rural, coastal or deprived areas that are finding it difficult to attract a great leader.

The Future Leaders Trust (TFLT), who will be running the initiative on behalf of DfE, are inviting applications from top-performing heads or outstanding aspiring heads who want to move to schools where their expertise can help raise attainment and narrow the achievement gap between poorer pupils and their peers.

Heads will be expected to work not just with the school they move to, but with a network of schools to help drive up standards across the local area.

Schools minister David Laws MP said: “The importance of high-quality leadership in our schools cannot be overstated. We know there is a strong link between school leadership, quality of teaching, and outcomes for pupils. The Talented Leaders programme will spread the excellence and expertise of some of our brilliant school leaders.

“If you are a head or an aspiring head who already has a proven track record of raising standards and improving the education offered to all children and you think you have what it takes to make a real difference to a school in need of a great leader then we want to hear from you.

“The initiative will ensure even more schools can benefit from the knowledge and expertise of our very best school leaders, so that every child can reach their full potential.”

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) welcomed the new plans. Speaking at the launch, NAHT general secretary, Russell Hobby said that it has always been a “badge of honour” for Heads to seek out the most challenging schools where their skills are most needed.

“Of course, the stakes are high,” he continued. “Expectations are rising, the goalposts move and timescales shorten. Turnaround schools can be fragile environments, demanding focus and resilience. Anything that can be done to support and celebrate leaders in these schools must be warmly welcomed.”

“NAHT, along with other unions in education welcome this new scheme to find the best head teachers in the country and put them to work in schools that need their skills most acutely.

“It is right that the scheme will be rigorous and demanding about who can participate. It is also crucial that the right support structures are there for all Head Teachers, that government recognises that creating a great school can be a long journey, and that the rewards are there for all heads seeking to improve their schools.”

Applicants who pass the rigorous recruitment process will receive help to relocate and the necessary professional support to turn their school around. The first round of recruits are expected to be deployed from September 2015. The first areas to receive the new leaders will be in north Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Bradford and Blackpool.

Heath Monk, CEO of The Future Leaders Trust, said: “Great headteachers make great schools, but finding great heads is much harder in some areas in England. The Talented Leaders programme will give 100 exceptional people the support they need to help their students succeed.

“We have eight years of experience in developing effective and inspiring leaders able to transform the schools that need it most. Working together, we will help them make an immediate positive impact and to begin long-term, sustainable improvement.”

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