New to Senior Leadership Programme

For the first time in many years, there is an opportunity to raise the leadership capability and capacity of the Further Education sector through prestigious and high impact programmes built around what leaders have stated they want. The New to Senior Leadership programme has been commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), the sector owned, government-backed workforce development body for the Further Education and Training sector. The programme is funded and subsidised by the Department for Education for eligible organisations funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). This high profile New to Senior Leadership Programme is designed and delivered in partnership with the Birmingham Leadership Institute at the University of Birmingham.

Programme overview

This innovative New to Senior Leadership Programme has been designed for leaders who have recently taken up a senior leadership role or would like the opportunity to take part in leadership development for their role.

Aligned to ETF’s leadership pipeline, it will enable newly appointed senior leaders to take up their roles more effectively and forge a cross-sector cadre of leaders. It will support leaders in several ways: a blend of theory ‘bursts’, leadership skills development, exploring knowledge and evidence, debate and facilitated group discussions, and learning from leaders, from the FE sector and the wider system. Importantly, the approach is underpinned by an emphasis on practical application to the real challenges faced by new senior leaders.

Those who are new to senior leadership are faced with the challenge of stepping up to their first major leadership role in a turbulent environment, building relationships with a range of internal and external stakeholders and developing their understanding of what it means to be an effective FE leader in the 21 century.

To meet those challenges, leaders must be capable of combining a host of skills and attributes as influential systems leaders. Therefore, this programme has been designed and delivered by a highly-skilled and experienced team based at the University of Birmingham to meet these requirements. They have a track record of running successful award-winning leadership programmes over 30 years, for leaders at all levels, across all sectors of the economy and they bring a particular understanding of the needs of senior leaders.

Benefits for participants will include being taught by thought leaders and experts in leadership development, as well as learning with peers in a supportive and stretching environment.

Places on the programme are limited, to ensure every participant has a high quality experience.

Key themes:

  • Self-management, self-awareness and resilience
  • Clarity on the expectations of the senior leadership role
  • Relationship management and developing impactful networks
  • Negotiation, influencing and delegation
  • Governance and strategic decision making
  • Effective stakeholder management and relationships
  • Operating in a cross-college role and wider systems leadership
  • Corporate responsibility and being a member of the senior leadership team.

The programme is underpinned by the FE Leadership Excellence Framework and the ETF Model for Professional Learning and Development.

As participants on the programme, you will benefit from:

  • Acquiring the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to succeed and operate successfully at senior level
  • Being able to move beyond organisational leadership, into system leadership roles that span organisational boundaries
  • Tackling real workplace issues, reflecting what is needed to promote confident high-performing, and continuously-improving organisations
  • Building your personal resilience, confidence, influence, and capabilities to prepare for the challenges and demands of senior leadership
  • Being critically aware of your personal approach to leadership – biases, blind spots, attitude to diversity – and how to continue to develop your leadership after the programme
  • Building a powerful, regional and national support network of like-minded, influential leaders that impact the organisation and system
  • Working more strategically with greater collaboration across organisations

How to reserve your place

Details about how to apply and an application form are included in the application pack, which can be accessed here

All applicants must complete the detailed application form, obtain support from an organisational sponsor (usually your CEO or a director-level sponsor) and have identified a work-based project or focus for application of the learning.

Programme delivery

The programme will be delivered in a variety of ways over three months:

  • 4 workshops
  • 4 self-managed learning sets, focused on translating programme learning into specific actions
  • 2 one-hour individual coaching sessions
  • Personal reflection: application of learning to workplace
  • Virtual learning environment: a range of resources such as reading, videos, discussion groups relevant to senior leadership in the FE sector.

The BLI team is highly experienced in delivering virtual workshops and Learning sets and decisions about face to face or virtual delivery will be made in line with COVID guidance.

As delivery will begin to take place virtually, a suitable platform, such as Microsoft teams or zoom, will be selected. 

Programme dates

Deadline for applications is 9am Wednesday 16 December 2020.

Two cohorts will be recruited for this programme. Workshop and learning set details for cohort 2 are:



Week 1 - orientation

w/c Monday 11 January 2021

Week 2 - induction

w/c Monday 18 January 2021

Workshop 1

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Weeks 3-4 - application

w/c Monday 25 Monday 2021

Week 5 - observation and planning

w/c Monday 8 February 2021

Workshop 2

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Weeks 6-7 – review and exploration

w/c Monday 15 February 2021

Week 8 - consolidation

w/c Monday 1 March 2021

Workshop 3

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Weeks 9-11 – conclusion

w/c Monday 8 March 2021

Week 12 – celebration

w/c Monday 29 March 2021

Workshop 4

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Learning sets will take place during the workshops. Individual coaching sessions will be arranged at the start of the programme.

Participants must commit to attending all of the programme dates for workshops and learning sets.

Commitment to approximately 4 hours learning per week will be required, some of which may take place during evenings, and will include: reading, videos and discussion groups. It is advised that participants follow the learning schedule to gain maximum benefit from the programme. However, the programme has been designed to allow for a degree of flexibility to accommodate work pressure and the uncertainty of COVID related pressures.

Programme costs

The cost of this programme is £850 per participant.

This includes all materials, workshops, coaching sessions and learning sets and access to the virtual campus during and for 3 months after the programme.

If your application is successful, you will be referred to the ETF booking system to make your payment. You will need to have signed up and paid for the course prior to the start date of 11 January 2021.

Is the programme right for me?

If you are new to senior leadership in FE and are looking for a programme that will give you the confidence, the support and the challenge to help you develop your career, this is the programme for you.

This is a highly-competitive programme and places are limited. We welcome applications from people who meet the criteria outlined below (or refer to application pack), and who can demonstrate the passion and commitment to personal and organisational development which we need from our future FE leaders.

New to Senior Leadership Programme Criteria

  • A senior leader that is either new in the post or would like the opportunity to take part in leadership development for their role
  • A broad understanding of the role of senior leaders and the importance of leadership in the FE sector.
  • Support from your manager or a senior organisational sponsor to undertake the programme.
  • A firm commitment to attend all  programme events and undertake personally-directed learning throughout and beyond the programme
  • Demonstrable leadership potential in Further Education.
  • A passion for improvement and a commitment to creating opportunities for shared leadership and system-wide transformation as a leader in the FE sector.
  • A strong interest in your own leadership development and in sharing learning and experience with others.
  • Willingness and commitment to find ways to apply programme learning to your leadership practice and to continue your learning and development beyond the life of the programme.
  • An understanding of how your role can and will contribute to improving learning outcomes and opportunities for your local population.
Contact us

If you have any questions about the programme or would like further information, please contact Apinder Sidhu by emailing

Programme and Cohort Directors

Programme Director

Prof. Christopher Pietroni – Director, Birmingham Leadership Institute

Christopher’s work focuses on leadership and change in complex systems with a particular interest in applying and adapting insights from narrative, framing, movement building and adaptive leadership. Working in the UK, US and Europe he leads a number of senior executive and graduate development programmes and post-graduate teaching/Exec Ed as well as consulting widely.

He is a long-time collaborator with Prof Marshall Ganz and in 2016 was a member of Prof Ron Heifetz’s adaptive leadership teaching team at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Christopher has wide experience directing, designing and leading systems leadership programmes across the public sector including: Senior Civil Service Programme (Civil Service Leadership Academy) Leadership for Change (Systems Leadership Steering Group), Skills for Systems Leadership (PHE), Future Vision (Leadership Centre), C21st Aspiring Directors Programme (University of Birmingham), National Graduate Development Programme for Local Government (University of Birmingham).

Christopher has been a Senior Fellow at the Leadership Centre and a Senior Associate at the Kings Fund. In 2017-18 he was Fellow of Practice at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and he received the Lucius N. Littauer Fellowship from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2010.

Cohort Directors

Dr Annette Neath

Annette is Senior Fellow at Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Programme Director for 21st Century Public Servant Leadership Development programme for Cornwall County Council and former Director of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme. She lectures in Organisational Development and Change; Leading People and Organisations; Innovation and Improvement in Healthcare. 

Annette is an occupational psychologist with 15 years’ experience in designing and delivering leadership programmes for executive and senior leaders. She is an experienced executive coach and has expertise in organisational change and quality improvement. She has specific expertise in blended learning design, receiving the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Gold award for her contribution to the EGA programme. She has a particular interest in the leadership of organisation change, the focus of her PhD research and has worked as consultant and expert advisor to the Department of Health, NatWest Bank, Leicestershire Constabulary, Shaw Group and Anglian Water.

Before joining HSMC, Annette held senior leadership posts with the NHS Modernisation Agency and the Institute for Innovation and Improvement. She led research on the spread and sustainability of national NHS service improvement programmes, and facilitated national and international master classes for The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and International Society for Quality Improvement (ISQUA). 

Annette has worked as an independent consultant and a visiting lecturer/fellow at Universities of Warwick, Cranfield, Nottingham Trent and Lincoln. Associate with Praxis (Cranfield), OPM and Deloitte. 

She holds a BSc in psychology, MSc in Occupational Psychology and PhD. She is a qualified executive coach, NLP Master Practitioner, MBTI Step 1 and II, Oshry Power+Systems and accredited facilitator for the NHS Healthcare Leadership Model 360.


Belinda Weir 

Belinda is a highly experienced leadership coach, facilitator, academic and consultant who has directed successful leadership programmes for hundreds of senior leaders in all sectors. Belinda has a particular interest and expertise in systems leadership and in working with boards and senior leaders and leadership teams to develop healthier healthcare systems.

She was a non-executive director, and latterly deputy Chair, with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust for six years, and in her earlier career was the Chief Executive of a mental health community services provider, principal consultant in the healthcare practice of a blue-chip management consultancy and a partnership development director for a global pharmaceutical company. 

Belinda is currently Director of Leadership and a senior fellow at the University of Birmingham Health Services Management Centre, for whom she is programme director on the Clinical Executive Fast-Track Scheme, and the 21st Century Public Servant Leadership programme for Aspiring Directors of Public Health. She leads for the University on the national Nye Bevan programme and the NHSE/I population health management programme. Belinda leads the work of the Centre for Health & Social Care Leadership on systems leadership and writes and presents on this topic for national and international audiences

Belinda has co-directed many highly-rated leadership programmes including, for the past four years, the King’s Fund’s Senior Clinical Leader programme, the Greater Manchester Commissioning Academy (for the Public Service Transformation Academy), the Leading Integrated System-Level Change programme for integrated leadership teams and the Collaborative Leadership Network for public sector chief executives.

She holds an MBA from Manchester Business School, an MA in social sciences from Edinburgh University and a Diploma in Management Studies from the University of Kent.

She is qualified in Oshry Power+Systems, Prince2, Firo-B and MBTI Step I and II and is an accredited facilitator for the HLM360 model.

About the Birmingham Leadership Institute

The most pressing contemporary challenges - local, national and international – are frequently characterised by complexity, difference, disruption and conflict. The Birmingham Leadership Institute exists to research and develop the leadership required to make progress on them.

The BLI’s mission is to:

  • Better understand, through research and practice, the leadership required at all levels to enable progress on complex organisational, social, political, environmental, commercial and economic challenges
  • Educate, train and develop people with the knowledge, skills and capacities to practice this leadership
  • Inform public debate and the public understanding of leadership.

We believe that leadership always reflects values. We value:

  • Collaborative leadership across boundaries, sectors, organisations, spatial levels and areas of life
  • Inclusive leadership that promotes, reflects and prizes diversity and seeks to develop the leadership of others
  • Responsible leadership that seeks to enable positive and sustainable outcomes for people, places and our planet.
About the Education and Training Foundation

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) is the sector-owned, government-backed workforce development body for the Further Education and Training sector. We believe that the key to improving education and training is to support teachers and their leaders to excel. Everything the ETF does is in pursuit of our vision of: first class leaders within the sector, effective, professionally confident teachers and trainers, further education as the career of choice for ambitious professionals who wish to make a difference. We have a full range of leadership programmes for middle managers, CFOs, CEOs and Chairs, as well as programmes for those who are preparing to become a CEO or Principal in the near future. For more information, please visit the ETF website.