The voice of specialist further education

Natspec SEND leadership programme

This unique training course provides participants with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and knowledge in the context of special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision. Learning alongside fellow SEND professionals from the further education sector, you will explore your own leadership challenges through a combination of online learning sessions, action learning sets and coaching.

Who is this course for?

This course is suitable for

  • principals and aspiring principals of specialist FE colleges
  • leaders and aspiring leaders of SEND or additional learning needs (ALN) provision in other FE and skills settings.
A large group of people, neatly arranged on a stage in multiple rows, all pleased with their accomplishments
Previous successful graduates of Natspec’s SEND leadership course.

Why should I do this course?

This is an ideal course for professionals who want to develop their leadership skills in the context of SEND/ALN provision, with a delivery team and fellow participants who understand SEND/ALN issues.

You will develop your knowledge and skills in a supportive environment, learning not only from course leaders and guest contributors, but also from your fellow participants.

By the end of the course you will have gained a peer network of senior leaders working in SEND/ALN. We hope that you will be able to continue to support one another as your careers develop.

Having improved your understanding of leadership and developed your skills, you will be well-placed to lead not only your own organisations but also the wider SEND/ALN system.

How is this course delivered?

The course is delivered through blended learning and includes:

  • an initial face-to-face orientation day
  • three modules delivered through online group learning sessions
  • two modules delivered face-to-face
  • an online progress check-in
  • three online meetings in action learning sets
  • four coaching sessions delivered remotely.

You will be set a series of missions to complete during the course, using an online learning platform, and have access to a set of digital resources. You will also be encouraged to extend your learning through peer exchanges, such as learning visits to other course participants’ colleges.

The total structured learning time for the programme is approximately 45 hours. You should allow a further 30 hours of self-directed preparation, reflection and challenge completion to enable you to get the most out of the course.

Course Structure

Click on the icons in the diagram below to explore the course elements in more detail.

How will my achievements on this course be recognised?

Natspec will issue a course completion certificate to all participants who complete the course.

Who is involved in the delivery of this course?

Course leader: Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse, a white man with short white hair. He is wearing a collared shirt.Simon delivers each of the core sessions and facilitates the action learning sets. He has over 20 years’ experience in designing and facilitating leadership programmes for leaders at all levels within private and public sector organisations in the UK and abroad. He has worked with leaders in the UK further education sector since 2009 including on national programmes such as the Principals Qualifying Programme and Aspiring Principals Programme and with individual FE colleges, including specialist colleges.

Coach: Jane Ragless

Jane Ragless, a white woman with white hair cut into a bob.Jane coaches course participants. She is an experienced coach, coaching trainer, manager, and practitioner. Currently Deputy Head of Learning in Foundation Programmes at Chichester College, she has delivered the ‘License to Coach’ programme across the college group, developing participants’ ability to create a coaching ethos within their provision. Jane has been involved with SEND in further education for over 20 years. Instrumental in the creation of a quality driven, robust RARPA process, she received the Chichester College Group STAR award for innovation in teaching, learning and assessment.

Coach: Franki Williams

Franki Williams, a white woman with short golden brown hair.Franki coaches course participants. She provides coaching to senior leaders in the FE sector as well as delivering bespoke consultancy and training. She has a Level 7 Certificate for Senior Mentors and Coaches, accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management. Franki has worked in SEND provision as a teacher, manager and leader and has a specialist interest in working with young autistic people and those with profound and complex needs. She has an M.Ed. in Severe, Profound and Complex Needs from the University of Birmingham.

Coach: Kate Brennan

Kate Brennan, a white woman with very short white hair, wearing glasses.Kate coaches course participants. She is a qualified coach and retired further education and skills inspector. She has an MA in teaching adults with learning difficulties, with a strong focus on policy and risk management to enable learners to participate more fully in college life. Kate has many years’ experience of working with people at all levels in the FE sector. She has a particular interest in capacity building and citizenship in FE for young people with PMLD.

When will this course be delivered?

The course takes place over a twelve-month period, with the majority of scheduled content delivered within the first nine months.

Key dates for the September 2023 cohort:

All activities will take place remotely unless otherwise stated.

12 September 2023 – Orientation Session (face-to-face, Warwick Conferences, Coventry) 

Week beginning 25 September 2023 – Coaching round 1 

3 October 2023 – Core session 1: Leading Yourself 

Week beginning 6 November 2023 – Coaching round 2 

Week beginning 13 November 2023 – Action learning set 1 

5 December 2023 – Core Session 2 Leading Your Organisation 

Week beginning 8 January 2024 – Coaching round 3 

Week beginning 22 January 2024 – Action learning set 2 

6 February 2024 – Core Session 3: Leading Others 

Week beginning 4 March 2024 – Coaching round 4 

Week beginning 18 March 2024 – Action learning set 3 

18 April 2024 – Core Session 4, Part 1: Leading the Sector Introduction (face-to-face, Warwick Conferences, Coventry) 

4 June 2024 – Core Session 4, Part 2: Leading the Sector Review 

25 June 2024 – Core Session 5: Leading Past, Present and Future (face-to-face, Warwick Conferences, Coventry) 

What are the course fees?

Course fees from January 2023

Participants from Natspec member colleges: £1,350 plus VAT

Participants from Natspec affliates: £1,950 plus VAT

Participants from non-member organisations: £2,650 plus VAT


Booking for the September 2023 cohort is now closed. If you would like to be placed on the list to hear about our next cohort in September 2024, please complete our expression of interest form and we will be in touch closer to opening in 2024.

Expression of interest form

    Name and organisation details

    I understand that this course will be delivered mainly via Zoom and confirm that I am able to access this on the device I will use to attend the course. I understand that participants are recommended to download the Zoom app rather than accessing the course via a browser in order to optimise the online learning experience.

    I agree that Natspec can hold and process the data I have supplied. Information on this interest form is confidential and will be held on Natspec’s database in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. It will be used for Natspec purposes only.

    I understand that, by completing this expression of interest form, I am requesting that Natspec sends me a booking link for the next course as soon as registration opens. Natspec recommends that, unless you are self-funding, you discuss funding in advance with the organisation that will be paying for your place. This will allow you to book onto the course as soon as registration opens.

    Further information will be sent to you via email when booking is available. If you have any queries, please contact

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