This section provides information for headteachers and senior leaders about our Leading Together programme.
Frequently Asked Questions
About the programme
- What is Leading Together and how can it benefit my school?
The Leading Together programme is a free, two-year programme that builds and sustains strong leadership in schools facing the toughest challenges. It offers bespoke support from an experienced school leader for your entire senior leadership team to help accelerate your school's improvement journey. When your school has completed the programme, they will have:Worked towards their school improvement plan and improvement goals. Learnt and implemented evidence-based best practice.
The programme is free for your school. It’s funded entirely by voluntary income from a range of generous supporters. Our funders are committed to ending educational inequality and believe supporting excellence in school leadership can help to achieve this.
- Created lasting support networks with schools in their local community and gained access to wider networking opportunities and the Teach First ambassador community.
- Helped create lasting and sustainable change.
- What makes Leading Together unique?
Whole team focus
Leading Together engages your school’s entire senior leadership team. By doing this, it builds leadership capacity and supports improvements across the whole of your school and its culture.
The Achievement Partner, an experienced school leadership expert, works alongside your leadership team for the full two years. They tailor the programme and support provided to the school's individual context and needs. The Achievement Partner is not there to tell your team what to do, but to work with them collaboratively, providing support and challenge along the way.
The programme equips your school with the capacity and expertise to make changes that last. This programme is about long-term, sustainable school improvement.
Our free Leading Together programme is based on evidence-informed best practice and robust research to help you create change that lasts.
Teach First’s expertise
For nearly 20 years we’ve partnered with thousands of schools serving the most disadvantaged communities. Leading Together draws on all our expertise, and the unique power of our growing networks.
- What is the role of the Achievement Partner and how do they support my school?
Your school is matched with an Achievement Partner – an experienced school leadership expert, trained coach and facilitator. They’ll guide and support you throughout the two-year programme by tailoring the programme to address your school’s specific goals and build plans for long-term success.
Your Achievement Partner delivers the programme for your team in several ways:
- Team and individual coaching.
- Delivering learning modules.
- Supporting access to bespoke support.
- Providing networking and collaboration opportunities.
Evaluation data from past and existing programme members shows that support from the Achievement Partner is the most valued part of the programme.
- How does the Achievement Partner work alongside School Improvement Advisors? How do they complement each other?
Most Leading Together schools have SIAs/SIPs (School Improvement Advisors/ School Improvement Partners). Where useful, the Achievement Partner may be involved in these conversations alongside the schools and engage directly with the SIA/SIP around their ongoing school support. This connection would be at the discretion of the headteacher. It is useful for the Achievement Partner to know what support is being provided across the school so that they are best able to coach the SLT alongside this.
The Achievement Partner can work with the headteacher (and potentially the SIA/SIP) to establish their key strategic goals for school improvement. Alternatively, the Achievement Partner can work with the headteacher, following their conversations with the SIA/SIP, to identify which area of school improvement will be set as a specific goal for the programme. The Achievement Partner (and Leading Together) do not make judgements, or write reports, about schools (which may be part of the SIA/SIP role) but rather coaches the SLT through the process of addressing goals in a sustainable and strategic way.
- How much time will an Achievement Partner spend with a school per month?
The Achievement Partner will spend the equivalent of roughly two days per half term with a school, in addition to module delivery. Modules last about 90 minutes and there are on average two per half term.
- How is the programme delivered to my school?
Our Leading Together model has always focused on in-person delivery of coaching, modules and support. Like many organisations, during the pandemic we were obliged to operate virtually and saw some great benefits by working in this way.
Moving forward, many of our Achievement Partners have returned to delivering the majority of their support in-person as they live a reasonable distance from the schools we work with.
Where we work in areas where there is no ‘local’ Achievement Partner, the Achievement Partner will deliver through a blended approach of virtual and in-person delivery. Team coaching and modules remain in person, but other types of support such as individual coaching and module catch may be delivered virtually and to support school-based needs. This adapted model also ensures that we can use our highly trained team to work with schools in hard-to-reach areas and as many schools as possible that would benefit from a programme like Leading Together.
- What does a ‘learning module’ look like?
We have a wide range of learning modules focused on themes relevant for senior school leaders. There are core modules (which all programme members complete) and non-core modules for specific individuals in your team who may focus on a particular area. Some examples of core module titles are:
- Science of Learning
- Professional development
- Sustaining wellbeing Each module has pre-work which is housed on My Teach First (our online portal).
The time commitment for each module is approximately:
- Pre-session learning – 45-60 minutes
- Facilitated sessions – 1.5- 2 hours (including a break!)
- Some of these will be delivered at a national conference (1 day events in the summer term in both your 1st and 2nd year on the programme) giving you the chance to engage with these important topics whilst networking with other schools.
Each module has pre-work which is housed on My Teach First (our online portal).
- How have other schools found the programme?
From the feedback we’ve received from previous programme members, we know that Leading Together has made a real difference to schools. From our survey of school leaders who recently completed the programme:
- 96% rated the quality of the programme as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
- 98% rated the support from their Achievement Partner as ‘good’ or ‘very good.
- 96% ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that the programme supported their leadership team to achieve their improvement priorities.
The support from an Achievement Partner is rated very highly by our programme members and receives a huge amount of positive feedback. As one school leader said:
‘The Achievement Partner understands the many challenges involved with leadership and gives me lots to think about! The group sessions with our school, during our SLT time have also been very useful and challenges us when needed and coaches us through the improvements we are trying to establish in school. Thank you for all you're doing! ‘
Programme Member, 2021
How to apply
- When and how can I express interest in the programme?
We usually confirm towards the end of the academic year, the areas of the country where we'll be offering the programme (starting in April the following year).
- How many staff/ senior leaders can I nominate onto the programme?
The programme is aimed and designed for the school’s senior leadership team. It is for whoever the headteacher feels would benefit and has whole-school responsibility. We do not recommend the programme for all staff.
For example, in an infant or small primary school, we would normally recommend a minimum of two, but ideally three to four programme members. In a larger primary or secondary school, we would recommend approximately eight programme members and a maximum of ten programme members per school. Often these will include the headteacher, deputy, business manager and a range of SLT members. Ultimately, it’s the headteacher’s decision, factoring in considerations around work life balance, staff capabilities/skills and the amount of change that will take place.
The headteacher may want to upskill some staff to the programme as part of their CPD but not immediately involve them in implementing changes. We usually recommend that the headteacher shares with us their ‘core’ team during the onboarding stage after the programme agreement has been signed. If there are any queries, the Achievement Partner (your support role at Teach First) can work out additional programme members or changes when they begin working with your school. Usually, we do not recommend governors to be programme members.
New members of leadership teams, who join the programme later than the majority, will be offered a bespoke catch-up/induction programme by their Achievement Partner, possibly in conjunction with new programme members from other schools. Module content remains available through the online portal after delivery, so it would be there for new programme members to ‘catch-up’.
- What is the eligibility criteria for schools?
Leading Together is about making a lasting difference to the lives of disadvantaged children. So we work with primary and secondary schools in areas of greatest need.
To take part, you need to be working at a school that is either a Teach First partner or eligible to be one. That means your school must be in England and teach a high number of pupils from low-income backgrounds. We prioritise places for schools in Ofsted category 3 or 4, or at risk of moving to these categories at their next inspection.
However, we will also accept category 2 schools in certain cases to help schools with ongoing sustainable improvement.
We calculate which schools are eligible using the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) and Achieving Excellence Areas (AEA), a measure which identifies parts of the country where children persistently underperform.
Based on these scoring systems, eligible schools must fall under one of these categories:
- An IDACI of 40 or greater (this means 40% of pupils are living in low-income homes).
- An IDACI of 35 to 40 and an AEA score of 4 to 6.
- An IDACI of 30 to 35 and an AEA of 5 or 6.
- An IDACI of 25 to 30 and an AEA score of 6.
If you're unsure if your school is eligible, please get in touch with a member of our team and we can help you at SchoolContactCentre@teachfirst.org.uk.
- If my school has completed Leading Together in the past, can I apply again?
Unfortunately not, as the way we prioritise places is designed to support schools in greatest need. Places are limited and we work with schools based on the eligibility and target areas above.