ASCL Trust Leaders: Executive Programme

Cohort 4 commencing March 2025

This one-year programme from ASCL offers aspiring and current CEOs leading groups of schools and/or colleges an exceptional professional development opportunity.

Designed by current and previous trust CEOs, ASCL specialists, experts from Nottingham University's education and business schools, and executive leaders from across business and other sectors, the ASCL Trust Leaders: Executive Programme provides participants with a matchless opportunity to hone their leadership through shared practice and expert insight.

This programme is highly practical and will focus on interrogating what works in different contexts. There are no assessments.

Colleagues leading groups of schools and/or colleges will have the opportunity to explore their role as part of the infrastructure of the education system and help them lead even more successfully. Delegates can also expand their network and create collaboration opportunities with other, like-minded trust leaders.

Book now for Cohort 4  

Themes and topics

The programme comprises ten modules:
  • Leading a sustainable and ethical trust culture
  • Working with governors and trustees
  • Leading resource deployment
  • Leading teaching, curriculum, and assessment across a trust
  • Leading people
  • Aligning Ambitions: Leading culture, mission, and strategy in a multinational landscape
  • Leading additional and special educational needs and disabilities across a trust
  • Leading change, growth and mergers
  • Leading a culture of excellent pastoral care and behaviour
  • Communication and reputation management
How it works
The programme runs for 12 months.

The programme includes a two-day residential event.

There will be seven further one-day events throughout the year.

There will also be access to online and offline networking opportunities throughout the programme and beyond.

The programme does not require completion of any assessments. Participants will receive a certificate of completion from ASCL Professional Development.

Who should participate?
This programme has been designed by trust leaders, for trust leaders.

It is suitable for colleagues currently in a CEO role, leading a group of schools and/or colleges.

It may also be suitable for experienced colleagues working in other senior roles within a trust who are considering progressing to a CEO role in the future. Please contact us to discuss your role and future plans.

Top five reasons to participate
  • Designed by current and previous trust CEOs with a practical focus on the key topics for the CEO role.
  • No commitment to assessments during or at the end of the programme.
  • Access to expert input from ASCL specialists, policy makers and serving trust leaders.
  • Excellent networking opportunities to foster shared practice and collaborative working into the future.
  • Additional input from senior leaders in business and the public sector as well as Ofsted, the ESFA, DfE and more.
Places for this programme are limited.

ASCL members can secure their place on the whole programme for the discounted price of £3,115 plus VAT.
Non-member rate is £3,325 plus VAT.

Participants will have the opportunity to participate in optional additional activities including one-to-one executive coaching, and sessions at ASCL Annual Conference. These optional activities will incur an additional cost.

Book now for Cohort 4  

If you would like more information about applying to join future cohorts of our Trust Leaders: Executive Programme, or to keep up to date with our wide-ranging programme of professional development events, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.


Topics may include:

  • Horizon scanning and the research. 
  • Building relationships. 
  • Analysis of the national, regional and local strategic environment. 
  • Working with outside partners. 
  • Contributing to local and central government policy making. 
  • Vision, mission and challenging goals. 
  • Building nimble organisations (that can fail fast). 
  • Measuring impact. 
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). 
  • Leading with the Nolan Principles and
    • Selflessness
    • Integrity
    • Objectivity
    • Accountability
    • Openness
    • Honesty
  • Deliberate design of a Trust.

Topics may include:

  • The roles of the Chair, the Chief Finance Officer, the governance professional and the Accounting Officer
  • The role of the trust board
  • The role of members
  • Schemes of delegation and the role of local governing bodies
  • Related party transactions 
  • Information flow
  • The DfE’s Get information about schools (GIAS) register
  • The Trust’s obligations to external agencies


Topics may include:

  • Research into, and examples of, delivering change across a number of organisations
  • Change models and theory of change
  • Growing a trust including developing hubs


Topics may include:

  • Finance culture (inc centrally held funding, percentage charges, cross LA considerations); 
  • The role of the ESFA
  • Accounting officer
  • The Academy Trust Handbook
  • The role of the CFO
  • Risk management
  • Annual reporting, audit and internal scrutiny
  • Delegated authorities
  • Budgets, procurement, control frameworks (including internal control, risk management and assurance processes)
  • Policy management 
  • Estate development and management

Topics may include:

  • Government policy in teaching, curriculum and assessment
  • Working with teaching school hubs
  • Leading the implementation of the work of the EEF and research schools, 
  • Leading cross trust education improvement personnel
  • Leading effective cross trust research and enquiry groups
  • Leading partnerships with university and ITT providers
  • Equality of opportunity in the curriculum (including extra-curricular) across schools

This day will be led by Apple and will take place at the Apple offices at Battersea, London.

Topics may include:

  • Developing an excellent central team
  • Succession planning in leadership
  • Recruitment
  • Talent management
  • The law around HR
  • Professional development
  • Leading an effective HR provision
  • Professional and difficult conversations (forum workshop) 
  • Working with Trade Unions 
  • Managing workload and wellbeing including flexible working 

Topics may include:

  • Cross trust safeguarding
  • Leading expectations on behaviour
  • Cross trust pastoral care and behaviour policies 

Topics may include:

  • Statutory duties with regard to the SEND Code of Practice (2015) and Equality Act (2010)
  • Leading the effective deployment of cross trust staff who are supporting Additional and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities across trust schools are deployed in a targeted way

Topics may include:

  • Creating a brand (USP)
  • Knowing your audience
  • Communicating with staff, parents and pupils/students
  • Principles of good video communication
  • Social media and websites          
  • Crisis communication (1/2-day workshop) – working through 4 scenarios