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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-standards-of-excellence-for-headteachers/headteachers-standards-2020
Headteachers are leading professionals and role models for the communities they serve. Their leadership is a significant factor in ensuring high quality teaching and achievement in schools[footnote 12] and a positive and enriching experience of education for pupils[footnote 8]. Together with those responsible for governance[footnote 5], they are custodians of the nation’s schools.
Parents[footnote 6] and the wider public rightly hold high expectations of headteachers, given their influential position leading the teaching profession and on the young people who are their responsibility. The headteachers’ standards set out how headteachers meet these high expectations. The standards are an important benchmark not only for headteachers and those who hold headteachers to account, but also for those who train and develop school leaders.
These standards replace the national standards of excellence for headteachers 2015. They are non-statutory and intended as guidance to be interpreted in the context of each individual headteacher and school. They are designed to be relevant to all headteachers.
The standards can be used to:
- shape headteachers’ own practice and professional development, within and beyond the school
- support the recruitment and appointment of headteachers, including the development of job descriptions and person specifications
- underpin frameworks for the training of school leaders, including current and aspiring headteachers
- inform the performance management of headteachers
Relationship to the teachers’ standards
The teachers’ standards (2011, as amended), including the personal and professional code of conduct which applies to teachers, provide a foundation upon which the standards for headteachers are built.
Headteachers, like other teachers, are expected to meet the teachers’ standards. The headteachers’ standards articulate how headteachers can meet both the additional responsibilities of headship and the requirements of the teachers’ standards.
The first section of the headteachers’ standards outlines the ethics and professional conduct expected of headteachers. This is developed from part 2 of the teachers’ standards. As such, they consist of statements that define the behaviour and attitudes which should be expected of headteachers.
The second section sets out 10 headteachers’ standards. The first 6 standards build on the teachers’ standards, whereas the other 4 standards focus on leadership responsibilities specific to headteachers. There is no hierarchy to the standards; the numbering below is only to aid identification.
- School culture (builds on teachers’ standard 1)
- Teaching (builds on teachers’ standards 2 and 4)
- Curriculum and assessment (builds on teachers’ standards 3 and 6)
- Behaviour (builds on teachers’ standard 7)
- Additional and special educational needs (builds on teachers’ standard 5)
- Professional development (some match to teachers’ standard 4)
- Organisational management
- School improvement
- Working in partnership
- Governance and accountability
The ethics and professional conduct section is at the core of the standards. This outlines the ethics and professional conduct expected of headteachers. It consists of statements that define the behaviour and attitudes which should be expected of headteachers.
The standards in section 2 cover interlinked domains of the headteacher’s role all underpinned by the governance and accountability domain.
Culture and ethos
- school culture
- professional development
Curriculum and teaching
- curriculum and assessment
- additional and special educational needs
- organisational management
- school improvement
- working in partnership[footnote 7]
Section 1: Ethics and professional conduct
Headteachers are expected to demonstrate consistently high standards of principled and professional conduct. They are expected to meet the teachers’ standards and be responsible for providing the conditions in which teachers can fulfil them.
Headteachers uphold and demonstrate the Seven Principles of Public Life at all times. Known as the Nolan principles, these form the basis of the ethical standards expected of public office holders:
Headteachers uphold public trust in school leadership and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour. Both within and outside school, headteachers:
- build relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observe proper boundaries appropriate to their professional position
- show tolerance of and respect for the rights of others, recognising differences and respecting cultural diversity within contemporary Britain
- uphold fundamental British values[footnote 3], including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
- ensure that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit their position, pupils’ vulnerability or might lead pupils to break the law
As leaders of their school community and profession, headteachers:
- serve in the best interests of the school’s pupils
- conduct themselves in a manner compatible with their influential position in society by behaving ethically, fulfilling their professional responsibilities and modelling the behaviour of a good citizen[footnote 4]
- uphold their obligation to give account and accept responsibility
- know, understand, and act within the statutory frameworks which set out their professional duties and responsibilities
- take responsibility for their own continued professional development, engaging critically with educational research
- make a positive contribution to the wider education system
Section 2: Headteachers’ standards
1. School culture
- establish and sustain the school’s ethos and strategic direction in partnership with those responsible for governance and through consultation with the school community
- create a culture where pupils experience a positive and enriching school life
- uphold ambitious educational standards which prepare pupils from all backgrounds for their next phase of education and life
- promote positive and respectful relationships across the school community and a safe, orderly and inclusive environment
- ensure a culture of high staff professionalism
- establish and sustain high-quality, expert teaching across all subjects and phases, built on an evidence-informed understanding of effective teaching and how pupils learn
- ensure teaching is underpinned by high levels of subject expertise and approaches which respect the distinct nature of subject disciplines or specialist domains
- ensure effective use is made of formative assessment
3. Curriculum and assessment
- ensure a broad, structured and coherent curriculum entitlement which sets out the knowledge, skills and values that will be taught
- establish effective curricular leadership, developing subject leaders with high levels of relevant expertise with access to professional networks and communities
- ensure that all pupils are taught to read through the provision of evidence-informed approaches to reading, particularly the use of systematic synthetic phonics in schools that teach early reading
- ensure valid, reliable and proportionate approaches are used when assessing pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the curriculum
- establish and sustain high expectations of behaviour for all pupils, built upon relationships, rules and routines, which are understood clearly by all staff and pupils
- ensure high standards of pupil behaviour and courteous conduct in accordance with the school’s behaviour policy
- implement consistent, fair and respectful approaches to managing behaviour
- ensure that adults within the school model and teach the behaviour of a good citizen
5. Additional and special educational needs and disabilities
- ensure the school holds ambitious expectations for all pupils with additional and special educational needs and disabilities
- establish and sustain culture and practices that enable pupils to access the curriculum and learn effectively
- ensure the school works effectively in partnership with parents, carers and professionals, to identify the additional needs[footnote 9] and special educational needs and disabilities[footnote 10] of pupils, providing support and adaptation where appropriate
- ensure the school fulfils its statutory duties with regard to the SEND code of practice
6. Professional development
- ensure staff have access to high-quality, sustained professional development opportunities, aligned to balance the priorities of whole-school improvement, team and individual needs
- prioritise the professional development of staff, ensuring effective planning, delivery and evaluation which is consistent with the approaches laid out in the standard for teachers’ professional development
- ensure that professional development opportunities draw on expert provision from beyond the school, as well as within it, including nationally recognised career and professional frameworks and programmes to build capacity and support succession planning
7. Organisational management
- ensure the protection and safety of pupils and staff through effective approaches to safeguarding[footnote 11], as part of the duty of care[footnote 1]
- prioritise and allocate financial resources appropriately, ensuring efficiency, effectiveness and probity in the use of public funds
- ensure staff are deployed and managed well with due attention paid to workload
- establish and oversee systems, processes and policies that enable the school to operate effectively and efficiently
- ensure rigorous approaches to identifying, managing and mitigating risk
8. Continuous school improvement
- make use of effective and proportional processes of evaluation to identify and analyse complex or persistent problems and barriers which limit school effectiveness, and identify priority areas for improvement
- develop appropriate evidence-informed strategies for improvement as part of well-targeted plans which are realistic, timely, appropriately sequenced and suited to the school’s context
- ensure careful and effective implementation of improvement strategies, which lead to sustained school improvement over time
9. Working in partnership
- forge constructive relationships beyond the school, working in partnership with parents, carers and the local community
- commit their school to work successfully with other schools and organisations in a climate of mutual challenge and support
- establish and maintain working relationships with fellow professionals and colleagues across other public services to improve educational outcomes for all pupils
10. Governance and accountability
- understand and welcome the role of effective governance, upholding their obligation to give account and accept responsibility
- establish and sustain professional working relationship with those responsible for governance
- ensure that staff know and understand their professional responsibilities and are held to account
- ensure the school effectively and efficiently operates within the required regulatory frameworks and meets all statutory duties
How the standards apply to different leadership roles
The headteacher’s standards cover the full breadth of leadership responsibilities within a single school. For most headteachers in maintained schools or academies in single academy trusts this means that all of the standards should be relevant to them, though it is anticipated that they will meet some standards through the successful leadership and management of teams and individuals within their schools.
There can be a range of job roles and titles for those leading individual schools, particularly where a school is working within a group, such as in a multi-academy trust. Job roles and titles are various, including Head of School, and Associate Head, as are the governance arrangements to which headteachers are accountable. In some settings headteachers are responsible for leading more than one school. There are also instances of shared headship through co-headship or job-shares. Employers[footnote 2], in such instances, will therefore want to decide which standards are applicable to roles in these contexts.
- Governance handbook
- The Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012
- Schoolteachers’ pay and conditions
- Equalities and Human Rights commission (EHRC)
- Equality Act 2010: advice for schools
Fundamental British values
- Guidance on promoting British values in schools
National Leaders of Education
- National Leaders of Education (NLE) standards
National professional qualifications
- National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL)
- National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)
- National Professional Qualifications for Middle Leaders (NPQML)
- National Professional Qualifications for Senior Leaders (NPQSL)
Principles of public life
- The Seven Principles of Public Life
SEND code of practice
- SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years
Standard for teachers’ professional development
- Standard for teachers’ professional development
- Teachers’ standards
Headteachers are expected to demonstrate consistently high standards of principled and professional conduct. They are expected to meet the teachers' standards and be responsible for providing the conditions in which teachers can fulfil them.
The Standard for Headship is designed to support individual self-evaluation and reflection as an integral part of leadership development. It is vital that leadership development is supported by effective and systematic Professional Review and Development (PRD) and Professional Update processes.
The Teachers' Standards as set out by the Department for Education (DfE) outlines the minimum requirements for teachers' practice and conduct in the UK. This guidance is for the use of school leaders, staff and governing bodies alike, and is issued into law as the requirements teachers must follow.
Leadership standards establish and communicate expectations for the professional practice of school leaders. They create a shared language about school leadership and serve as the foundation for all principal preparation and school leadership development efforts.
33. Internally, in addition to being accountable to governors, headteachers are accountable to their pupils and staff.
The executive head has no substantive headship in any school but remains the strategic leader of a chain, federation or collaboration of schools. In the case of the third option, the executive head teacher is above the head teachers appointed to manage each individual school within the consortium.
Headteachers have a duty of care to their employees. In fact, the prime duty of heads after the safety of the children is the wellbeing of their staff.
Previously, all headteachers had to have the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). Since 2012, however, this is no longer a mandatory requirement. Although, if you do have this qualification it will put you in a better position when applying for headteacher roles.
A common secondary school will have between 1 and 5 deputy headteachers, with a similar amount of assistant headteachers to look at more specific areas of the school.
- Know your students and how they learn.
- Know the content and how to teach it.
- Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning.
- Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments.
- Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning.
- Engage in professional learning.
Professional standards are a set of practices, ethics, and behaviors that members of a particular professional group must adhere to. These sets of standards are frequently agreed to by a governing body that represents the interests of the group.
- Professional Knowledge. Members strive to be current in their professional knowledge and recognize its relationship to practice. ...
- Professional Practice. ...
- Leadership in Learning Communities. ...
- Ongoing Professional Learning.
- Acknowledge, appreciate and give credit. ...
- Active listening. ...
- Communicate effectively. ...
- Show commitment. ...
- Embrace failure. ...
- Invest in your team's future. ...
- Lead with empathy. ...
- Demonstrate integrity.
The Standards for Excellence are an A-Z resource on best practices for nonprofit organizational governance, management, policies and procedures, and legal compliance at any stage of a nonprofit's lifecycle. The centerpiece is the Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.
- Growth Mindset. Experience and technical skills are critical but a growth mindset is the game changer. ...
- Pick your team carefully. ...
- Diversity of thought rules. ...
- Park the ego. ...
- Future focussed. ...
- Expect more, far more. ...
- Behaviours and meetings. ...
- Set and maintain high standards.
Yes, the governing body of any school or academy has the power to sack the headteacher. For maintained schools the legal right to fire the headteacher comes from the School Staffing Regulations 2009.
Overall accountability for health and safety lies with the employer of the members of staff in the school. However day-to-day running of the school including responsibility for the health and safety of staff and pupils is normally delegated to the head teacher and school management team.
You can't actually have two heads so we are a co-headship, a shared headship. Officially there is one leader at any time in the school and the other time we are doing other developmental activities.
To become a headteacher you will generally need to have experience as a teacher. For teacher training you will need a minimum of five GCSEs, including English and Maths (plus science for primary teaching). You will then require A levels or equivalent, or an Access to Higher Education course, and then a degree.
A head master, head instructor, bureaucrat, headmistress, head, chancellor, principal or school director (sometimes another title is used) is the staff member of a school with the greatest responsibility for the management of the school. In some English-speaking countries, the title for this role is principal.
The Department for Education is responsible for children's services and education, including early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England.
For providers in England the reference number required is the Teacher Reference Number (formerly known as a DfES number). The number is allocated by the NCTL when details of a trainee are entered onto their system and the trainee's record created. The number allocated is a seven digit number.
- Ask your employer – they'll hold a record of your individual DfE number.
- Check any correspondence – we'll have used this number in any previous communications.
- Call us on 0345 606 6166 and verify your identity.
The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP
James Cleverly was appointed Secretary of State for Education on 7 July 2022. He was previously appointed Minister of State (Minister for Europe and North America) in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) from 8 February 2022 to 7 July 2022.