Rebekah Stackhouse, Programme Manager for School Leadership at Teach First
Rebekah Stackhouse
Programme Manager for School Leadership at Teach First

Schools need leadership now more than ever - we're here to help

Time (and resources) aren't on the side of schools right now. But leadership programmes, while daunting, can be key investments in rebuilding after COVID-19.

We're heading towards the end of the Autumn Term in a year like no other. The challenges that teachers, leaders and pupils have faced - both personal and professional - are hard to capture in words.

We know that the disruption and uncertainty of 2020 has emphasised the pivotal role schools play in communities, and the urgent need of pupils and parents to access the support they provide - and not just in terms of education and learning. For those working in school at all levels, it has been a complicated balance to make sure they can focus on addressing this need, whilst also maintaining their own wellbeing. It is not easy.

As an organisation, we want to make certain our programmes can help. Protecting the time teachers and leaders have for reflection and development - even in times of upheaval - means they are more able to recharge, spot issues, and address concerns. This is particularly important for the pupils who have been hardest hit by lockdown.

Wellbeing comes first

From my conversations with schools and our programme members, the starting point in any programme we offer is wellbeing, now more than ever. School staff are working with anxious pupils, parents and peers, delivering learning in constantly changing, extraordinary circumstances; that takes its toll.

For that reason, the wellbeing course is now a common element across all our leadership programmes, including our NPQs. I’m really pleased we’ve been able to partner with The People Project for this initiative, to help leaders enhance their own personal wellbeing in a way that works for them. In turn, this means those leaders can then support and improve the wellbeing of the staff and pupils in their school. We know that many schools and leaders are already doing this, and we hope that our resources can provide additional reinforcement of the great work we’ve had the privilege to see.

Making development work for you

We’ve also refocused our programmes so that teachers and leaders can access learning and development in ways they can then put into action straight away. We want to make our content work for you: whether it’s our Leading Together programme that provides tailored support for senior leadership teams, or our NPQ programmes that are designed to support practical implementation of school improvement plans.

One of the most common concerns we hear is that the workload on our leadership programmes will be too much. Our programmes are designed to be integrated into a programme member’s current role so the work they’re doing will continue to help their pupils and gain them a leadership qualification.

Throughout, schools have access to expert support from former and current school leaders. For our programme members this year, the most important elements are the one-to-one calls with their dedicated support lead, and their interactions with colleagues from other schools during live seminars. Having the time to consider the context of their school and pupils, and to reflect on their own leadership approaches and opportunities, leads to brilliant conversations, and importantly, to actions back in school!

We also offer access to a vibrant community of schools, teachers and leaders across the country. So throughout each programme and beyond, participants will have the chance to connect with peers and build lasting support networks. For example, leaders across our community have been sharing great resources and practice. We know this has been really useful for schools across the country.

Using research to make our courses relevant

I’m pleased that our content covers key issues in schools this year: from addressing the gaps created by lockdown, to leading an anti-racist school; our Design team have made sure that the latest research and resources are available to programme members. At a point where time is precious, this makes all the difference when staff are looking for information and developing their plans.

We hope we can make the most of the new virtual world we are working in. Whilst it’s harder to collaborate in person, technology has meant we can connect in new ways. We've been reaching out to schools and programme members to find out what works well, building on this feedback, and ensuring we’re delivering what’s needed sooner rather than later. I’m glad our resources are all now accessible online, any time!

What's next?

It's the time of year when we normally turn our minds to appraisal conversations, new year resolutions, and next steps.

The schools we are working with have highlighted that this year, more than ever, it’s important to make sure colleagues have the headspace to think about the longer term.

Many things are uncertain. As I write, we don’t know exactly what next week will look like, and indeed what the school year will look like for the rest of 2020/21.

What is certain is the commitment and dedication of school teams across the country to make a difference for all pupils. I have been overwhelmed by the work that is happening to support young people. The role of teachers is vital, and I am looking forward to working with programme members and schools to make sure we can have impact where it is most needed.


We're currently recruiting for our leadership programmes, including our NPQs. Explore the options below:

Our leadership programmes

Our NPQs

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