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National leaders of education and national support schools

Teacher in classroom

National leaders of education (NLEs) are outstanding headteachers or principals who, together with the staff in their schools (designated national support schools (NSS)), use their skills and experience to support schools in challenging circumstances. In addition to leading their own schools, NLEs work to increase the leadership capacity of other schools to help raise standards.

In November 2010, the Schools White Paper announced the expansion of the NLE/NSS programme. The target is to designate 1,000 NLEs by 2014-15.

Who can apply?

You must be an outstanding serving headteacher responsible for a school that meets the NSS criteria. In addition, you and your school must have a previous track record of supporting under-performing schools and the capacity to support schools in the most challenging of circumstances. Applications are accepted from maintained or independent primary, secondary and special schools. Read the full eligibility criteria.

What’s involved?

Once recruited onto the programme, you and your school will work with schools and academies in the most challenging of circumstances. What’s involved will depend on what is required by the school in need of support. Each deployment is negotiated separately with the relevant local authority or appropriate commissioning body. Find out more about what’s involved.

Download our fact sheet about NLEs.


Once recruited, you will remain designated until you no longer meet the criteria.

Next application round

29 June 2012