High-profile trusts win share of £1.5m ‘exemplary leadership’ fund

Four of England’s most high-profile academy trusts have won the first tranche of a £1.5 million government contract to deliver “exemplary leadership” training.

Schools Week revealed earlier this year that the Department for Education was developing the leadership programme”, which will see ‘outstanding’ schools designing training programmes to replicate their success.

However, the government was criticised at the time for saying the scheme would only be open to schools with a knowledge-rich curriculum.

A group of high-profile academy trusts have now been chosen to lead a one-year trial of the programme with funding of £250,000. The cash will fund training of two leaders from 120 schools across England. If the trial goes well, they will receive a further £500,000 to cover another two years.

The programme, which will be delivered online, will be spearheaded by Star Institute, the training and development arm of Star Academies, in partnership with Dixons Academies Trust, Outwood Grange Academy Trust and the Inspiration Trust.

Also involved in the project is the Leverage Leadership Institute, part of the Uncommon Schools Charter School organisation in the US, which runs a selective fellowship programme for “great leaders”.

Leverage leadership is an approach also used by some British institutions, including Ark Schools, one of the country’s largest academy trusts.

According to Ark, the approach focuses on “rapid and sustained school improvement that is replicable across school settings”.

“At the heart of this strategy are the seven key levers of school improvement. Consistent application of the seven key levers ensures that each minute in school is leveraged for optimum school performance.”

The coalition of trusts put in charge of the exemplary leadership fund will follow the principles of leverage leadership to “guide school leaders in how to establish a strong school culture (routines and behaviour management), effective teaching founded on direct instruction, and aspirational outcomes for pupils through a knowledge-rich curriculum”.

Hamid Patel, chief executive of Star Academies, said: “Great leadership depends on having an ambitious vision of what is to be achieved and a common-sense approach to making change happen.

“This programme equips leaders for success by using the principles that make the Uncommon Schools approach so impactful. Delivery by the expert Leverage Leadership Institute includes virtual visits to some of the best schools in the country, enabling participants to observe directly the practical strategies that make a positive difference to young people’s lives’.”

Under the programme, leaders from 120 schools will follow a series of “see it, name it, do it” cycles. According to the trusts, this will allow participants to “both explore the theory and are supported in its implementation in the context of their own school improvement priorities”.

Applications will open on September 21, and close on October 9.

It is not known which organisations have won the other half of the contract.


This story has been updated to clarify that the trusts have so far only been awarded £250,000 of the £750,000 value of their contract.

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  1. Janet Downs

    The same names keep appearing when money is available for some project or other. And all apparently linked to a US organisation which has been criticised for its authoritarian approach and which believes schools can become ‘exemplary’ by following a step-by-step guide. But teachers who don’t fit the framework are quickly sacked as Diane Ravitch, formerly US Secretary of Education explains in her blog.