National standards of excellence for headteachers

The Department for Education publishes National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers. These replace the National Standards for Headteachers 2004. They are set out in four domains:

  1. Qualities and knowledge
  2. Pupils and staff
  3. Systems and process
  4. The self-improving school system

The standards are intended as guidance to underpin best practice and to be interpreted in the context of each individual headteacher and school. They can be used to inform the appraisal of headteachers, but for this purpose they serve as:

  • a background document to help frame a broad overview of leadership in the specific context of the school;
  • a starting point for the identification of specific objectives for the next stage of the school’s continuous improvement journey; and
  • a help to identify areas of development where the headteacher requires support and improvement.

When the standards are used to inform objective setting, the objectives must be tailored so that they are relevant to the context of the individual school and headteacher. The standards should be used aspirationaly and developmentaly. Actions for the headteacher can be agreed with these aspirational standards in mind, but will need to be in the context of where the school is now and what is needed to move it to the next step of improvement.