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.

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.

What does the course cover?

The course includes three main elements:

  • four modules delivered through online group learning sessions plus an initial orientation session
  • three online meetings in action learning sets
  • four coaching sessions.

You will also have access to a set of digital resources and be encouraged to extend your learning through peer learning experiences.

The total structured learning time for the programme is just short of 30 hours; you should allow a further 20 hours (approximately) of self-directed preparation and reflection to enable you to get the most out of the course.

This course will take place online in 2021 but subsequent cohorts are likely to follow a blended learning approach, including some face-to-face delivery, once circumstances permit.

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 WhitehouseSimon will deliver each of the four leadership modules and facilitate 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 RaglessJane will be coaching 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 WilliamsFranki will be coaching course participants. She provides coaching to senior leaders in the FE sector as well as delivering bespoke consultancy and training. She is currently completing a Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching and Mentoring, 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.

When will this course be delivered?

The majority of this course takes place over a six-month period, with a final reflective session in which you will consider course impact, around 10 weeks later.

Key dates for the January 2021 cohort:

Optional tech drop-in session: 7 January

Orientation session: 13 January

Coaching: weeks beginning 25 January, 1 March, 26 April, 14 June

Sessions on Leading Yourself, Your Organisation, Others, The Sector: 10 February, 31 March, 26 May, 29 September

Action learning sets: weeks beginning 15 March, 10 May, 28 June.

We anticipate running two programmes per year, with January and September start dates.

What are the course fees?

Participants from Natspec member colleges: £795 plus VAT

Participants from Natspec Transform member organisations: £1,275 plus VAT

Participants from non-member organisations: £1,590 plus VAT


The maximum number of participants per cohort is 18. The first cohort is now full.

Express your interest in joining a subsequent cohort. We hope to run this course again in September 2020 and in future years.

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