School leaders sitting round a meeting table

"School leadership is second only to classroom teaching as an influence on pupil learning.” 

(Leithwood, K., Day, C., Sammons, P., Harris, A. and Hopkins, D. (2006), 'Seven strong claims about successful school leadership')

A great deal of work has been done in recent years to define what excellent school leadership looks like and to illustrate its role in school improvement in the UK.  We use that experience to engage in dialogue with school leaders around the world, with the aim of improving education in local contexts, so that more young people get the start in life that they deserve.     

We support policy makers in building and implementing school leadership policies

By working at government level we are able to inform the development of national approaches. These have the potential to impact on many leaders and, through them, hundreds of thousands of young people.  Our recent projects include:

The System and School Leadership Coaching Programme (SSLCP) in Jamaica


The SSLCP is the result of collaboration between the British Council and the Jamaican College of Educational Leadership. 

The programme, which started in 2014, is designed to develop school leaders’ coaching skills so that they can coach and mentor talented staff - important in a system where many established leaders tend to stay in senior positions for extended periods. 

This style was seen as providing a non-traditional challenge to the system, without radically changing its structure. 


A training programme was developed which comprised five levels of certification: Coaching Mentor, Performance Coach, Development, Leadership (Transformational) and Supervisory. The levels are progressive in terms of knowledge and skill, with an increasing amount of training and coaching practice required at each level. In order to be accredited, participants must submit a portfolio of evidence demonstrating self-awareness and learning. 


One hundred and six school leaders as well as 19 maths coaches have been trained, with half of them already certified at different levels.  So far they have delivered 276 hours of coaching to other principals and teachers.  The plan is to train all principals and education officers in Jamaica to become coaching mentors by 2018. 

Coaching will also be part of the newly launched University and College Training Programme which is designed to train those aspiring to lead tertiary institutions. 

New headteacher standards in Rwanda


The Rwanda Education Board (REB) has a strong vision to ensure that every school in Rwanda has a high quality school leader, so that every student has the opportunity to benefit from the best possible education. 

To support this we worked closely with the Rwandan Ministry of Education to define new headteacher standards for Rwanda and embed them within a broader framework of educational improvement policy and processes. 


We worked in partnership with the REB and the Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB) to develop the new standards.   

We also worked with the UK’s National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) to explore what the new standards are and how they can be put into practice.  This involved bringing together head teachers, policy makers, partner organisations and local education authorities. 


The new standards reflect the importance and centrality of student learning and well-being. They provide an important framework to support professional development and certification (both within pre-service and in-service training), recruitment practices, monitoring, evaluation and performance management for school leaders in Rwanda. 

We are continuing to work with NAHT to create links between UK and Rwandan school leaders and share best practice.

We deliver large-scale school leadership training programmes

Through our Connecting Classrooms programme, we have trained more than 20,000 school leaders since 2013. More than 80% of participants reported they acquired enhanced skills as a result of taking part, leading to new leadership approaches and a more inclusive and participatory style of school management.  

Our training approach is grounded in coaching, mentoring and reflective learning.  We focus on developing the ability of school leaders to deliver improved learning outcomes and implement their school development plans, with a focus on internationalising their school.

Find out more about our Connecting Classrooms training, designed to help school leaders integrate core skills into the school curriculum.

We also offer training modules for school leaders that can be built into bespoke training programmes.  Contact us for more information.