Executive headteachers: What's in a name?
Executive headteachers: What's in a name?

Pippa Lord, Karen Wespieser, Jennie Harland et al

Research Report, July 2016


Full report | Executive Summary
Technical Appendix | Literature Review | Case Study Compendium
Infographic Poster | Presentation | Practitioner Guide

This study was carried out by NFER, the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and The Future Leaders Trust (TFLT). The three organisations combined their research interests in order to inform a range of policy and practice developments relating to executive headteachers (EHTs). EHTs are becoming increasingly prevalent as the self-improving school system matures. There are over 620 in the school workforce today, and the number recorded in the School Workforce Census has increased by 240 per cent between 2010 and 2014. The role is still evolving locally and nationally. As EHTs take responsibility for ever more schools in England, their role will be crucial to the effectiveness of multi-school-groupings in the self-improving school system.

Key findings and recommendations:

  • As schools continue to form groups, demand for EHTs is likely to increase. More clarity is needed at a national level around the true scale of the role and the purpose of EHTs in a school-led system. To facilitate this national data recording systems need to be developed to more accurately record information about EHT posts and accountability arrangements.
  • There is currently no legal definition for EHTs, leading to multiple sector interpretations of the role. A profession-led definition with associated skills, competencies, organisational structures and indicative remuneration should be developed – allowing for a range of appropriate operating models so EHTs can be appointed and developed more effectively.
  • EHTs need high levels of strategic thinking, and skills in coaching and delegating. They need to ensure consistency and collaboration across their schools, and have a strong capacity to look outward. Workforce planning must ensure sufficient numbers of leaders are supported to acquire the skills to progress upward to fill new EHT positions while also sustaining traditional HT positions and Head of School roles.

Infographic Poster


Further Information:
Format: PDF, 32pp, ISBN: 9781911039105
Sponsor(s): NFER, NGA, TFLT


How to cite this publication:

Lord, P., Wespieser, K., Harland, J., Fellows, T. and Theobald, K. (2016). Executive Headteachers: What's in a Name? A Full Report of the Findings. Slough, Birmingham and London: NFER, NGA and TFLT.


URL: