Learn English in the UK or in your own countryspacerUK courses and qualifications in the UK or in your own countryspacerThe best of British arts, media and designspacerPromoting British expertise in science, engineering, technology, environment and healthspacerGovernance and the rights of peoplespacerLibraries, information centres, seminars,  knowledge networks and the information society
What is the British Council?spacerVisit our worldwide network of officesspacerRead all about our collaborative workspacerFind our services, departments, libraries, personnel, etc.
The British Council home page

International Placements for Headteachers


International Placements for Headteachers is an initiative that has been developed in partnership between the British Council, the National College for School Leadership and the Department for Education and Skills. The programme is funded by the National College for School Leadership

The programme has been in operation for two years; in the first year 150 headteachers from primary, secondary and special schools in England were placed on international study visits. During 2003/04 over 350 headteachers were placed and it is anticipated that there will be a similar number during 2004/05. The programme reflects our commitment to developing world class leadership for our nation's schools.

Each placement consists of a group of at least ten serving headteachers, one of whom will be an experienced headteacher who acts as a facilitator for the group. Whilst on the study visit, headteachers will have the opportunity to 'shadow' a host headteacher and to engage in professional dialogue about their experiences. There may be some variations to the above for a small number of groups.

Applicants must be serving headteachers with a minimum of three years' experience as a headteacher before they can be offered a placement, but it is possible to make an application in the third year. Headteachers will only be able to take part in the programme once as a participant.

Group Applications
Headteachers who are intending to apply as a pre-existing group must read the Guidelines for Group Applications in conjunction with the general information on the programme.

Where will the study visits take place?
To date, visits have taken place to over 25 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and the United States with more countries hosting groups next year.

What do the visits focus on?
Although the main focus of all visits is leadership, there are also parallel themes, which might typically include:

  • building leadership capacity
  • diversity and inclusion
  • early years
  • extended schools
  • ICT
  • schools in challenging circumstances

Please note that the themes listed above are intended to give an indication of focus areas for groups and applicants should state their own preferred study visit theme on the application form.

During 2004/05 it is intended to offer a minimum of 350 placements to headteachers of primary, secondary and special schools in the maintained sector in England.

Visits follow a similar pattern regardless of destination, with short haul placements (mainly within Europe) taking place over six days to include the working week. Long haul visits will generally last for ten days, seven of which will be focused on the programme. Host organisations are briefed as to the nature of the placements. Common format reports will be produced at the end of the visit with structured impact evaluation points occurring during the year following the placement.

Why do a study visit?

The philosophy behind the programme is that headteachers have the opportunity to examine and reflect upon their own practice in the light of that of other principals worldwide. We hope that all involved will gain from the programme and that living and working in another culture will give headteachers fresh insights into their own culture and a broader educational perspective. The opportunity to discuss, share and reflect on practices cannot be underestimated. This is a life enhancing experience. 'The best piece of professional development I have ever had'.

Whilst there will be significant personal benefits for the participants in these visits, we are particularly keen to ensure they will also have a positive influence on their schools as learning organisations. We will therefore be evaluating the institutional advantages of the programme and how it influences pupil achievement and opportunities.

2004/05 Programme Schedule
For visits in 2004/05 there will be two closing dates for applications:

  • 31 March for visits taking place from May 2004 to March 2005
  • 1 July for visits taking place from November 2004 to March 2005

Applicants will be contacted on an individual basis when it is possible to offer a placement. As much notice as possible will be given of the dates for proposed visits but applicants may find it helpful to know that most visits take place in January, February and March and October, November and December with a small number in April and May. Visits will take place during term and half-terms.

Where it is not possible to offer applicants a placement in the year in which they apply, they will be informed and invited to carry their application over to the following year. It will not be necessary to complete another application form.

How can I take part?
If you are interested in applying for a placement, please complete the application form.
Download application form (MS Word document, 131KB)

If you need further information or advice, please contact one of the British Council's School Leadership Advisers, all of whom have several years' experience as headteachers:

Linda Kiernan 020 7389 4930
Jean Lebrecht 020 7389 4930
Judith Mullen 020 7389 4465
E-mail leadershipteam@britishcouncil.org

Please note that it is not possible for applicants to pre-select a specific location or host organisation for the study visit. It can be difficult to place applicants in study visit groups if they have requests that are highly specific.

Completing the application form
The application form is a Word document. The forms are protected so you can only fill in the text boxes. Use your tab key or your mouse to move from one text box to the next.

When you have completed the application form (it can be printed out and completed by hand), please ensure that the form is signed and send it to:

Leadership Team
Education & Training Group
The British Council
10 Spring Gardens
London SW1A 2BN

[ Education and training home page | A to Z | British Council home page ]

  © British Council, the United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a Charity.
Our privacy statement
Our Freedom of Information Publications Scheme