Further details of how the government’s £3.8 million academy trust chief executive development programme will work have been published.
Ministers promised to launch the programme as in their 2022 schools white paper.
The contract was handed to the government’s flagship training provider, the National Institute of Teaching (NIoT), which has pledged to develop “the new generation of courageous, pioneering” leaders.
The first 25 recruits will start in February next year, followed by a larger cohort of 50 in July.
Recruitment will begin in autumn. Training will last for between nine and 18 months.
Here’s what we’ve learned …
1. Which CEOs will be able to take part …
Participants must be currently working as a CEO at a “small group of schools” and be looking to lead a larger trust – either through growing their own trust, or moving to run a bigger trust.
Minimum entry requirements should include a “strong track-record of high performance and / or school improvement” as well as strong leadership potential and previous evidence of committing to professional development.
The candidate should also have a “positive attitude towards improving children’s life chances as part of the wider schools system”.
2. … and the process to bag a spot
DfE said NIoT should develop a “robust process” to select applicants, including interviews and assessments. This could take place at a centre, over a weekend or at the applicant’s own trust, for instance.
The application should also include “self-assessment” and “an endorsement” from a senior colleague about their “capability and potential”.
After securing a place, a candidates’ “knowledge gaps” should be identified through “individual diagnostic assessment”.
3. Trust chairs can also take part
NIoT needs to offer “opportunities” for trust chairs to participate, the contract states.
For instance, the programme should focus on “the relationship between the participant” and the chair, “building shared knowledge and ensuring preparedness for sustainable growth”.
4. Ofsted and EEF to help design training
NIoT must ensure others have a say on the programme design – which will be approved by DfE.
That includes the Education Endowment Foundation, Ofsted and assessment moderators.
They should also speak to the MAT leadership development expert advisory group, led by Nick Weller, chief executive at the Academy Transformation Trust.
To make sure the programme is “inclusive”, NIoT should consult faith-based trusts, CPD bodies and other leading MATs.
NIoT is currently accepting expressions of interest on the programme’s design and encourages anyone interested to get in touch.
Delivery of the programme can be sub-contracted to others, but they must meet criteria including being rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
5. ‘Proactive advertising’ in underperforming areas
NIoT needs to advertise the programme to “increase the degree to which diversity in trust executive leadership roles is representative of society”.
But they must also “proactively advertise” it within the 25 priority education investment areas.
Where there are any additional vacancies, places will be “distributed nationally”. However the contract adds “priority should be given to those identified as high-quality and high-potential individuals”.
6. Sector-wide evidence pledge
NIoT also said the programme will be used to “generate evidence that can inform CEO development elsewhere in the sector”.
Melanie Renowden, NIoT chief executive, said “in line with our desire to improve the whole education system, we want this programme to generate evidence that can inform CEO development elsewhere in the sector”.
They “hope to get a better understanding of the efficacy of a range of development interventions to help inform work being done within school trusts and across the system to prepare leaders for future CEO roles”.
7. Contract value increases by £1m
NIoT’s 32-month contract is worth £3.79 million – which is £1 million more than advertised in an early market engagement last year.
The DfE said the earlier figure of £2.8 million was “indicative only”. Market feedback helped take into “account the needs of the sector and viability of emerging proposals”.
Other leadership training providers demanded an investigation after NIoT was awarded the contract in June.
They said their work “is now at serious risk”, after ministers abandoned a competitive tender and instead awarded it to NIoT as part of their existing contract.