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Inspiring leaders; improving children's lives

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Key speeches

Read recent key speeches made at NCSL conferences and other national events for school leaders.


An increasingly important part of NCSL's role is to use the knowledge we draw from the best school leadership to provide government with expert advice on tackling key challenges. In this section you will find the College's recommendations on four pressing issues: children's services leadership, succession planning, primary school leadership and the leadership of complex schools.

DCS Leadership Programme

Children's services leadership

In December 2008, our remit was extended to include the training and development of directors and aspirant directors of children's services.

As part of this extended remit we are currently developing the Director of Children's Services Leadership Programme, in partnership with the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) and the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC).

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Succession planning

The education system is currently facing one of the most serious challenges in recent years - a potential shortage in headteachers across England. In December 2005 the Secretary of State asked NCSL to work with partners to develop a national strategy on succession planning.

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Review of Provision

Following an extensive period of review and consultation with stakeholders during 2008, NCSL provided advice to the Secretary of State for Education on three key proposals for enabling a self-sustaining leadership system. NCSL is now taking forward work around:

  • cluster-based middle leadership development with a strong focus on leading teaching and learning
  • increasing effectiveness of support to headteachers in their early years
  • defining the concept of system leadership and identifying the different roles of system leaders now and into the future, through a system leadership framework

We are responding to the various implementation issues raised during the consultation by thoroughly piloting our proposals. For further information, please email

Read the summary of the ministerial advice on Review of Provision Adobe Acrobat Reader required (52kb, 2 pages) and the reply from the Secretary of State  Adobe Acrobat Reader required (364kb, 2 pages).

Primary leadership

Primary leadership

Leadership in primary schools is a challenging and complex area. Our advice is the first step towards a more innovative strategy for primary leadership, and the start of some sustained work on developing primary leadership to meet the complex and challenging demands of securing children's well-being and developing skills for life in the 21st century.

Complex schools

Complex schools

There is a growing body of hard evidence that schools that are failing their pupils can be transformed by excellent leadership plus support from another high capacity school. There are at present a small number of experienced leaders who, with their schools, are able and willing to take on these complex roles successfully. Helping to strengthen leadership in these complex roles is a key priority for the College.