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.

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
  • a fourth module delivered face-to-face including final reflective activities
  • three online meetings in action learning sets
  • four coaching sessions delivered remotely.

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 approximately 36 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.

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.

Coach: Kate Brennan

Kate BrennanKate will be coaching 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 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 September 2021 cohort:

21 September 2021 – Orientation Session (face-to-face @ Conference Aston, Birmingham)

Week beginning 4 October 2021 – Coaching round 1 (remote)

19 October 2021 am – Core Session 1: Leading Yourself (remote)

Week beginning 8 November 2021: Coaching round 2 (remote)

Week beginning 22 November 2021: Action learning set 1 (remote)

7 December 2021 am – Core Session 2: Leading Your Organisation (remote)

Week beginning 10 January 2022: Coaching round 3 (remote)

Week beginning 24 January 2022: Action learning set 2 (remote)

8 February 2022 am – Core Session 3: Leading Others (remote)

Week beginning 21 February 2022 – Coaching round 4 (remote)

Week beginning 7 March 2022: Action learning set 3 (remote)

22 March 2022 am – Planning for Core Session 4 (remote)

24 May 2022 – Core Session 4: Leading the Sector (face-to-face)

Please note that venue for the second face-to-face sessions is still to be confirmed but is likely to be located in the Midlands.

Depending on demand, we plan to run two cohorts 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


Bookings for the September 2021 cohort are now closed.

The maximum number of participants per cohort is 18.

If you would like to be informed when the next set of bookings open, please fill out the expression of interest form.

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