Expectations for the intern


  1. Ensure clarity about the role and responsibilities of the principal and/or headteacher who is releasing you and the headteacher who is hosting you
  2. Agree a minimum of 6 one-hour sessions with your leadership tutor (some before, some during and some after the internship).
  3. With reference to your current head/principal/ and in collaboration with the host head/principal.
  4. Set up a minimum of two pre-internship visits to the host school
  5. Agree dates for the internship (two blocks of 5 days with a space in between or 10 days as two consecutive school weeks)
  6. An induction programme in order to get up to speed with details regarding the host school and team (this may include a day or two of shadowing)
  7. Agree a focus for the internship
  8. Agree debriefing arrangements for during the internship
  9. Read through all key documentation prior to the internship eg whole school development plan, staffing structure documentation, staff handbook, RAISEOnline summary, key school policies such as Health and Safety etc
  10. Create an Internship Development Plan (ensuring spend of £1100 bursary is appropriate)
  11. Liaise with headteacher of current school to ensure that adequate arrangements are in place for period of internship
  12. Attend the internship start-up residential at the National College, Nottingham.
  13. Complete pre-internship evaluation document
  14. Allow time to complete the 16PF questionnaire
  15. Take part in pre-internship WebEx (1.25 hrs).

During the internship

  1. Ensure commitment to regular debriefing with the host head/principal
  2. Keep a daily journal – include thoughts, reflections, ideas, observations
  3. Hold sessions with your leadership tutor
  4. Carry out all activities during the internship with due regard to health and safety, equality of opportunity and in alignment the highest of professional standards

Post the internship

  1. Complete post-event evaluation document
  2. Hold end of programme debriefing with the headteacher/principal of the host school
  3. Create a headship/principal development plan
  4. Attend the graduation ceremony in the autumn term

Expectations for the host schools


  1. Ensure governors, SLT, staff, pupils and parents are aware of the internship and are well briefed on what it may mean for them and any roles and responsibilities
  2. Where appropriate, you may wish to also inform your local authority that you are supporting the programme
  3. Ensure the commitment of the SLT to support the intern in the same way they would for you as the head or principal. (The senior deputy/vice principal will have a particularly important role to play in inducting the intern).
  4. Meet with your intern on a minimum of two pre-internship visits which should include:
  5. introductions to key members of staff and the chair of governors and where possible an introduction to pupils and the wider staff team at assemblies etc.
  6. a run through of the whole school development plan, RAISEOnline, key policies, practice and protocols (e.g. undertake risk assessments etc.)
  7. supplying copies of documents as noted above and any required keys or passes
  8. a tour of the school
  9. agreement on a focus for the internship, the dates for the internship and a schedule for the 10 days
  10. the arrangements for the latter part of the internship when you may be off site (how and when to contact you etc.)
  11. debriefing arrangements (when, how often, format)
  12. clarity on legal status i.e. , that you as headteacher retain legal responsibility for the school even when the intern steps in
  13. parameters regarding confidentiality
  14. checking with your intern on whether a new CRB is needed before they start
  15. Provide key documentation to read before the internship begins (eg. whole school development plan, staff structure charts, school calendar, staffing lists, key policies etc. ).
  16. Attend the internship launch day. It is essential that those hosting an intern attend this session.

During the internship

  1. Step back and enable the intern to independently carry out agreed tasks. For example, lead senior leadership team meetings, carry out line management meetings, lead staff meetings, lead curriculum reviews etc. Any shadowing should take place prior to the internship experience as part of their induction. The bulk of the 10 days should represent practical hands on experience of being a head or principal.
  2. Some heads/principals choose to be offsite in during the internship. If you choose to do so please ensure you are easily contactable and reasonably nearby should the intern or your deputy/vice principal need to contact you on a matter of importance.
  3. In the event of notification of Ofsted at your school, please notify the programme manager [name] so that a way forward with the internship can be agreed.
  4. Commit to regular debriefing sessions with your intern.

Post the internship

  1. Arrange for a full programme debrief session with your intern (also inviting any other key staff where relevant)
  2. Support your intern to review their headship/principal development plan
  3. Complete the post-internship evaluation document

Expectations for the leadership tutor

This support should be given prior, during and post internship:

•assist the intern in clarifying expectations of process

•coaching and mentoring

•support with career progression towards headship

Participants will determine the focus of sessions.

•Each one hour session should generally be split into 3 parts:

  • reviewing
  • mentoring
  • coaching

Leadership tutors were required to:

•attend a coaching training event ( either a half or whole day)

•provide a minimum of 6 one hour support sessions

•be proactive and regularly contact their intern to offer support and check progress

•attend the launch event

•attend the graduation event

•engage with the post-programme evaluation survey

Overview of the launch residential

The launch residential is a very important part of the programme. Two days back-to-back and an overnight stay allow the interns to immerse themselves fully into the programme. It is essential that leadership tutors, hosts and interns all attend on day two of the launch and giving as much advance notice of the session possible is key to facilitating maximum attendance. Participants are encouraged to make use of the learning log enclosed in the delegate pack to note key learning points as the sessions progress. A consistent approach is achieved by everyone hearing the same key messages and information at the same time. The interns grow in confidence and excitement following the residential and leave feeling very well supported.

Day 1 of the launch

This part of the launch is for interns only. Starting late afternoon on a Thursday or Friday tends to work best since interns have the front end of the week to finalise arrangements for their work to be covered whilst they are away and travel time if the programme is open to participants from a large region. On day one participants get the opportunity to:

  • meet each other and learn from each other
  • share what they hope to gain from the internship and their understanding of it
  • share what they know and questions about the programme
  • get further information about the PF16

Typically, interns hope to gain in their confidence to be effective headteachers as well as extend their understanding in a few key areas. It is likely that one or two interns will not have read the paperwork in detail so it is an important opportunity to talk about key elements of the programme. Some will have already made contact with their host head and or leadership tutor whilst others will prefer to wait until the second day of the launch.

Any leadership assessment tool can be used on the programme to assist them in identifying leadership strengths, preferences and areas for development. The 16PF is particularly good at assisting interns identify their preferences and how to balance out their leadership behaviours. It is definitely worth checking that their correct and best email address is on file to avoid any delays with the completion of the assessment. Interns are told they will receive a link establishing where they will log on and told the date of the week in which they are to complete the online assessment. Following the assessment, the interns receive a report and an hour long one-to-one with the 16PF facilitator, about the results.

Effective communication is critical to the success of the internship. This session provides a refresher regarding key elements of successful communication. Interns areencouraged to listen twice as much as they speak and ask three times as many questions as they might normally ask! Using this approach the intern is likely to be able to avoid making assumptions and wanting things done the way they are used to having them done at their home school. The number of unknowns, even for an extremely well prepared intern, will be high and hence we recommend a coaching approach as an initial response when staff come to the intern for direction, advice and guidance. Building a close relationship with the deputy at the school is also considered critical to success. The deputy is likely to hold much of the detail that will be unknown to the intern and regularly consulting with and meeting with the deputy is also essential to a successful internship. In many ways the internship needs to be considered as very close to a co-headship since effective collaborative working and regular discussions and updating will be central to the working relationship.

Day 2 of the launch

Taking some time for everyone in the room to introduce themselves is important for encouraging interns to network beyond their host head and leadership tutor. Generally everyone concerned is happy for their work contact email to be shared with the group as a whole. Headteachers have also reported that they have very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet new headteachers and learn with and from them.

Host heads need to have a very clear understanding of their role in order to ensure that the internship experience is as close to headship as possible. As well as providing a range of information and documentation, the host head needs to ensure that the senior leadership team, chair of governors, personal assistant and school business manager, understand the internship programme and fully support it. In addition, the host head needs to step back and let go enough for the intern to feel in charge. For some host heads, this can be more challenging than expected, but once the host head has gotten to know the intern and feels very confident that they are very capable, they do step back. It is not expected that the intern is involved in all aspects of headship whilst in the headteacher’s seat but the key aspects , for example, leading SLT meetings, meeting with the chair of governors, meeting with the deputy, contributing to duties, meeting with the local authority officer or sponsor etc. Involvement with competence, disciplinary or grievance, even as an observer prior to the internship, would not be appropriate. The intern would not be expected to make any decisions with a significant long-term impact or significant legal and financial implications. Daily debriefing (or on alternate days) with the intern updating the host head on the day’s events is an important part of the learning and an opportunity for the intern to ask questions and consult the host head.

Evaluations have indicated that the programme is of significant benefit to not just the intern, but the host head and the leadership tutors as well. For one host head, who led a one-form entry school, the intern came from a much larger school and had been key in developing a range of systems that the host head was very interested in. Following the internship the host head decided to adopt some of them. For many host heads the internship provided a much needed space for reflection and review as well as extra time to focus on something specific such as the development of the teaching school. All host heads said that they had appreciated feedback about the school from a fresh pair of eyes. For leadership tutors the opportunity to coach an aspiring headteacher often prompted further thought about what they are currently doing to support the career progression of senior staff at their own school. Most of the leadership tutors were serving headteachers – many of whom felt hard-pressed to consistently bring coaching to their leadership toolkit. Coaching the intern often allowed the head to develop their coaching skills and renew their commitment to coaching as a key leadership approach.

The hour for the intern, coach and leadership tutor to plan goes very quickly! The leadership tutor is often key in brokering a focus for the internship that works for the intern and the host head. Interns are encouraged to work to their strengths and take on a focus that stretches and develops them. Working to their strength will build their confidence and ensure that they leave something of value behind. Identifying an area for development – typically finance, personnel and working with governors is important to get maximum benefit from the internship. Reviews with a write-up of findings are often very effective since the intern needs to be clear about strategically leading a review as a head rather than being an operational deputy and the report findings can usefully feed into whole school planning after the internship has finished. The review might be literacy, ICT across the curriculum, communication, behaviour for learning etc. Ten days is enough time to complete a review and write a report. Looking at any new national developments can also be useful. There are no set rules about the focus but it must be a genuinely useful, strategic piece of work delivered at headteacher level. This session was also a good time to confirm host headteacher requirements around Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.

WebEx meetings for participants

Two evening WebEx meetings were run for this programme for participants. On national programmes it was not possible to get everyone together for short sessions but for local programmes this might be feasible and a better option than an online event. One WebEx was held in May to support participants in planning for the internship and one in July when the internships were over. During the first WebEx, participants were asked to share successes and challenges thus far. The group brainstormed solutions together. Participants were also asked to share the focus they planned for the internship. A sample internship plan might be shared and discussed. It was a great opportunity for peer support and being inspired by progress to date. The second WebEx again allowed participants to share their successes and challenges. Typically the internship had been an exciting and challenging experience and interns found it difficult to return to school in the role of deputy headteacher. They may have returned to their home school buzzing with ideas to a head who was exhausted at the end of the school year and not entirely receptive! Interns were encouraged to channel their energy into securing their first headship!

Celebration and evaluation

At this closing event, interns, heads and leadership tutors were invited to informally share their experiences, indicate what changes would make the programme better and celebrate successes. One headteacher was often asked to make a presentation sharing their journey to headship. Certificates of completion were also presented to the interns. The learning was captured on flipcharts and written up as part of the final report. Interns completed the post internship questionnaire and leadership tutors and host headteachers were asked to evaluate their experience. Mid to late July tended to be too busy a time for a celebration event so this was generally held in late September or early October the following academic year.