Leaders around table

Leadership experience

Gaining experience and wider influence

There are numerous ways to gain additional leadership experience and influence, both within your current employment and in the wider educational landscape. Opportunities may include:

Role-shadowing schemes

Most schools are keen to make sure they promote the professional development of their staff. Many schools have clear succession plans in place or are busy “growing their own” staff in a challenging educational landscape. If you are keen to develop your career, there are many opportunities to do so. It is worth asking if your school is involved in a role-shadowing scheme and, if not, whether they would be interested in developing one. Most good role-shadowing schemes are developmental and include opportunities to:

Observe and shadow another member of staff. Work with a more senior member of staff on a shared project.


Alternatively, get involved in educator-led development on a leadership theme, or a theme that will have wider benefit to yourself and children in your school, through HertsCam, and then publish your findings. 

  • Take on a supervised piece of work delegated to you and relevant to your career aspiration.

Getting involved beyond your school or setting

If you are already in a leadership position but would like to extend or enhance your role through promotion or wider and deeper experience, you can make it known that you would like to be considered for the following:

Professional Partnering

As an experienced school leader, you may be able to register as a Professional Partner (PP) to offer support new headteachers moving into the area

PP’s are experienced leaders who want to give something back and support new headteachers coming into the county. You should express your interest in joining the programme by speaking to your School Effectiveness Advisor (SEA). As a PP, you will receive training and support from HFL Education, including a full day’s training session in September around coaching, mentoring and counselling. The SEA team will then contact you once a new headteacher starts and if you have been identified as a good match in terms of people and schools. You can be a PP for one school or for a number of schools. In return your school will receive a payment which will contribute to the school budget.

Interim leadership

Where a school has found it difficult to recruit, or where there is an absence that requires a solution in the short to medium term, interim leadership is often a solution. With so many schools in Hertfordshire, there are often opportunities for a good interim leader to support a school that is experiencing a temporary recruitment difficulty. This type of work is often explored by leaders who have taken retirement, or those moving into the area who are looking for shorter-term projects rather than a permanent role. There are very specific skills involved in good interim leadership, including:


Ability to quickly analyse the situation and prioritise activity.

Ability to quickly build confidence in all stakeholders.

Excellent communication skills.

Sensitivity in managing priorities and in driving through calculated change against a backdrop of varying challenges.

Being outcome-focused and able to accurately assess what can be achieved in the timeframes involved.

Executive headship

In an increasingly challenging financial landscape and with the government’s agenda to encourage the formation of Multi Academy Trusts (MATs), schools are frequently looking at new and interesting structural models. This may involve school collaborations, which result in a single executive headteacher and single governing board being supported by heads of individual schools or settings within the group.

The post of executive headteacher requires skills that go beyond those expected of a headteacher of one institution. Those taking up executive headship will therefore have a proven track record of developing a single school and raising standards and have some experience of school to school support. HFL offers a programme of development and support for those considering or involved in executive headship.

Leading trusts

Increasingly, there may be opportunities to lead a multi-academy trust or an umbrella trust. In Hertfordshire we have a range of school structures, with expertise in all aspects. If you would like to pursue the options and develop the skills for leading or forming a trust please contact a member of the HFL team.

Advisory work

Supporting, challenging, advising or coaching others requires a particular set of skills and attributes. Many successful school and subject leaders go on to widen their influence beyond their own classrooms and schools, by supporting others to develop and bring about improvements in theirs. If you have a strong track record of school improvement and supporting others, you may be interested in applying to become a national leader of education (NLE), a local leader of education (LLE), a specialist leader of education (SLE), or a HFL School Effectiveness Adviser (SEA).

To find out more about any of these opportunities in Hertfordshire, contact: info@hfleducation.org