In a learning environment

Aspiring Leaders for Special Education

The Aspiring Leaders for Special Education is suitable for any qualified teachers or middle leaders in any phase of education with experience in SEND and an interest in developing the knowledge and skills essential for special school leadership.

The DfE has identified the need for ‘generic professional development in a context-specific programme’ to equip effective special school leaders. We have developed a package of four modules of leadership training ‘for practitioners, by practitioners’ centred on weaving school leadership competences with the essential and specific areas of practice in SEND school provision.


Participants are expected to attend 8 face to face tutor workshops spread across four terms.

The course is made up of four compulsory modules which address key leadership challenges for aspiring leaders:


Module 1:  Teaching & Learning

This module explores the leadership issues associated with:

  • The influence of values in determining the outcomes for individual learners
  • Systems to promote high quality teaching and learning
  • Emotional intelligence – the key to success in a special school
  • Coaching and training staff to maximise learning opportunities for pupils
  • Understanding and leading your teaching team
  • Holding staff to account with regard to the quality of teaching and classroom support


Module 2:  Data & Assessment

This module explores the leadership issues associated with:

  • The distinction between leadership and management in data and assessment systems
  • Telling your ‘assessment story’ to Ofsted – presenting a clear case
  • Making decisions on what is assessed in a special school and why
  • Forming and articulating your vision for assessment
  • Developing a bespoke system of assessment in your school
  • Establishing roles and responsibilities within the assessment team
  • Having difficult conversations
  • Monitoring and evaluation


Module 3:  Leading, Managing & Supporting a Diverse Team

This module explores the leadership issues associated with:

  • Creating, maintaining and developing your ‘dream team’
  • Staff well-being
  • Distributive leadership and staffing structures
  • The importance of a team approach in special education
  • Ensuring teams get the job done
  • Using theoretical models to build your vision for a team approach
  • Identifying training needs and providing high quality, relevant CPD
  • Financial astuteness and resource deployment


Module 4:  Partnerships & the Community

This module explores the leadership issues associated with:

  • Involving/engaging key stakeholders
  • The importance of listening and using intuition to pre-empt potential problems
  • Parental engagement and pupil participation
  • Getting the job done – initiating, implementing and embedding change
  • Working with governors
  • Effective networking – working with the community and outside agencies
  • Responsiveness and flexibility in leadership
  • Developing resilience and emotional intelligence


The content is taught by an independent consultant and an experienced special school headteacher providing real-life reflections and examples of the application of leadership principles and theory through four modules.  Click here to read their biographies.


ESSET has worked in partnership with the University of East London and there is the opportunity for participants to carry out additional independent study on each module in order to gain accreditation towards a Masters degree.

To book a place on the Aspiring Leaders for Special Education programme please email

Key Details

  • ‘For practitioners, by practitioners’
  • £1200 per delegate
  • Programme spread across 4 terms
  • 4 specially focused modules

A big thank you to all of our esset members

Langham Oaks School
Southview School
Lexden Springs School
Thriftwood School
Columbus School & College
Harlow Fields School and College
Edith Borthwick School
Market Field School
Castledon School
Shorefields School
Glenwood School
Ramsden School
Wells Park School
The Endeavour School
Oak View School
Kingswood Hoe School
The Pioneer School
Cedar Hall School
Grove House School