Aspirations Teaching School Academy

1The Aspirations Leadership Incubator programme for Senior Leaders aspiring to Principalship


This programme, Aspirations’ Leadership Incubator (ALI), is designed to provide those senior leaders destined for Principalship with a realistic preparation for the wide range of responsibilities required to be an effective and outstanding Principal. As an Assistant Principal, Vice Principal or Deputy Head it is virtually impossible to fully understand the role of Principal and equally difficult to get the experiences and techniques required to hit the ground running as a Principal. This programme aims to make each aspiring Principal aware of what lies ahead, as well as providing some individualised techniques and approaches to help them with their first year of Principalship.

Who is it for?

Any primary or secondary phase Assistant Principal, Vice Principal or equivalent who is likely to become a Principal.

The Programme

The Incubator will operate each new academic year with a new cohort. In line with the Aspirations Framework it will develop in each potential Principal high levels of self-worth, active engagement in the nature of the role of Principal, and a real sense of purpose with regard to the expectations of the role of Principal.

Prior to selection for the Incubator, potential delegates will need to complete an application form. They will also be required to obtain references from their principal. Such references will provide the basis for a constructively critical conversation in the very early stages of the Incubator with one of the leaders of the programme. This conversation will result in a personalised road map for each delegate that sets out their learning journey and key milestones as they work towards the goal of acquiring their first headship position. Principals nominating a senior leader for the Incubator will be expected to release their nominated delegate as set out in the programme details and to also receive a delegate from another school as part of the visits programme central to the Incubator.

The Incubator combines a wide range of experiences and support to ensure an effective preparation for the first year of Principalship.


Download course details


The Principal Purpose sessions

Week 1a: Developing Self and others: The Self-worth of the leader, the organisation, staff and students:

      • Listen
      • Learn
      • Presence
      • Communication
      • Clarity
      • Transactional analysis

Week 1b: Communication, marketing and relationships: How do you lead to ensure full engagement of all stakeholders to achieve the vision before starting and in your first year? Communication and marketing.

Week 2a: Understanding and changing school culture

Week 2b: The importance of systems and structures

Week 3a:  Core functions of the high-achieving school: curriculum, instruction and student achievement.

Week 3b: Leading improvement: Purpose: Vision, moral purpose, drive, relentlessness, bravery

Week 4: Strategic and operational management

Nuts and Bolts:

  • Finance
  • Curriculum planning
  • Governance
  • HR
  • Using data to improve your school
  • Other elements: Admissions, safeguarding, premises, marketing, SEN, etc.

Week 5: Research, learning, creativity and innovation – The future of education

Week 6: Using the Aspirations Framework as a tool for success

Final affirmation: A commitment by the delegates (in real terms) to actively nurture the development of an aspirant principal within their home school. This will involve developing with them a road map to principalship.

Our commitment once the Incubator is complete:

  • Assigning a Principal mentor
  • Providing training in understanding the Trust’s monitoring and improvement systems
  • A refinement of the road map to Principalship that includes a programme of visits to other schools in the Trust and a series of foci and expected learning outcomes for these visits, planned as part of the readiness weekend.

Application Forms for the Aspirations Leadership Incubator for Senior Leaders are available HERE