“Deborah has brokered many successful partnerships between the private and public sectors. She is used to liaising at a senior level with ministers and her contribution towards leadership development has been significant. She writes clearly and with conviction, from an informed perspective, which engages the reader.
Deborah speaks with clarity of purpose, passion and a genuine desire to make the world a better place”.
Steve Munby CEO of Cfbt Education Trust
(Former CEO of National College for Teaching and Leadership)

Deborah has been involved with the national College, https://www.gov.uk/…/national-college-for-teaching-and-leadership for over a decade and was known amongst the Independent sector as the lead contact and their representative with NCTL. She was originally part of a group representing professional association members of the independent schools council (ISC) who met with the college to discuss leadership issues. Several years later this group requested that Deborah represent the sector and report back to them. The confidences that they placed in Deborah enabled her to network and establish positive relationships with colleagues at the college and in the maintained sector. Deborah deeply respected the innovative leadership of its former CEO, Steve Munby, who is now CEO at Cfbt. Steve and deputy CEO, Professor Toby Salt, ensured that input from the Independent sector was always invited at key times and Deborah has contributed to many National College “Think Tanks”, along with other renowned leaders within global education. Deborah has worked on three versions of the National Professional Qualification for Headship, (NPQH), under two different governments and this became useful when the college moved into its next phase of development.

In line with the current economic climate the National College reduced staffing when it became an executive agency of DFE but the service it provides regarding facilitating leadership opportunities for schools has not diminished. It now has teams based in London, at the DFE (Sanctuary Buildings), Nottingham at Learning and Conference Centre, Ruddington, and Manchester.

Deborah has always been keen to provide awareness of leadership opportunities for Independent school leaders, and still regularly represents the Independent sector perspective to the teams within the college.

Charlie Taylor replaced Steve Munby as CEO of NCTL and has experience in both sectors . It is hoped that Charlie will endorse links with the Independent sector, so that truly unified leadership provision will become a reality.

Nevertheless not leaving anything to chance, Deborah ensured contact between Trevor Summerson at NCTL and the Independent School Bursars Association. The College offers training to school finance officers, through their school business manager’s course, and those overseeing the course have always welcomed contact from both sectors. ISBA, the Independent Schools Bursars Association, equally run an impressive array of courses for its members. Deborah is clear in her view that there is much to be gained from these two groups working together and has done much to forge links between ISBA www.theisba.org.uk and NCTL..

The National leader of governance programme (NLG) and governors’ training is proving to be very popular with maintained schools, as well as some Independent. Deborah is keen for all governors to explore some of the key issues contained within these courses and those run by the Association of Governing Bodies (AGBIS), as well as reminding us that there are governors who govern more than one school and sometimes across sectors. In 2012, whilst chairing the Cross Association Leadership Group, Deborah wrote to every Chair of Governors in the country, requesting that they set aside funds within their school budgets and encourage all staff within their schools, to engage in continuing professional development. Many Governors responded positively, with an increase in the uptake of courses, including those at headship level, but there is still a long way to go before all governors recognise the vital role that CPD plays in enhancing the performance of both staff and board and this was a theme chosen by Deborah when she was recently asked to address Chairs of governors at an AGBIS conference www.agbis.org.uk

Deborah has deep experience of education, having served both national organisations and the School of which she was head with distinction. While she values schools’ autonomy and independence, she is strongly committed to the independent and maintained sectors collaborating, respecting and valuing each other. She radiates enthusiasm for schools and their endeavours to help and develop pupils, of all backgrounds.
Stuart Westley. General Secretary Association of Governing Bodies. (AGBIS)

Deborah also raised the importance of the college engaging with Independent International schools and initiated contact between the Professional Development officer and board of Council of British International Schools (COBIS) www.cobis.org.uk/ and the appropriate National College staff.

Deborah has recently assisted in the review of the new National Qualifications for Senior Leaders (NPQSL) at NCTL, by contributing to and later, analysing course content, as well as the course content for other aspects of the leadership curriculum, and reminds us that there are always opportunities for staff in the independent sector to contribute to reviews of college courses, including those which continue post headship qualifications.

Deborah also ran an extremely popular National College Independent School conference, for several years, which showcased the impressive work that collaboration between the sectors produces and it is therefore no surprise that she was then requested by Pat Langham, the former Chair of the Independent State School Partnership Forum, to replace Pat as chair of this group-an appointment formally endorsed by Lord Nash, the minister with responsibility for the forum. In January Deborah and a colleague at the Department for Education, LISA Thom, initiated and ran a one day oversubscribed ISSP event highlighting successful cross sector partnerships, with many eminent speakers. The day was praised by many and feedback was excellent with a significant amount of new schools requesting to become part of new cross sector collaboration.

“Deborah has brought her relentless energy and enthusiasm to bear not just on the full time commitment as Head of a successful independent school, but also as a champion of cross-sectoral engagement on matters of substantial interest to us all in the sector: independent/state school partnerships and leadership development within the sector. Her work as Chair of both the Independent/State School Partnership Forum and the Cross Association Leadership Group, and her representation of the independent sector with the National College, has been both inspired and inspiring!”
Mathew Burgess
CEO Independent Schools Council

There are numerous aspects of College work that Deborah has been engaged in but when she was appointed, alongside colleagues Mark Ronan and Jill Berrry, as a formal College Associate, Deborah was in a stronger position than ever to contribute towards leadership reform. She contributed to the reference criteria for National Leaders in Education and Specialist Leaders in Education and ensured that NLEs and SLE criteria was adjusted for the Independent sector to recognise the subtle differences that can occur between leadership within Independent and State schools.

As an Associate she also highlighted that an independent school can be a member of a Teaching school alliance, as well as being the lead Teaching school and that this has many benefits for staff and pupils within all of the schools. Taking this into account Deborah worked with the Headteacher of King Edward V1 school in Birmingham to ensure that it gained Teaching school status and has supported many other Independent schools as they become part of a Teaching school Alliance. There is a vast amount to be gained from partnership with other schools, including the fact that significant research demonstrates how outstanding schools still raise their attainment levels as part of this collaboration. In the maintained sector there are now a vast number of academies, many of whom belong to chains and the independent sector has a unique opportunity to be part of this collaborative gene.

The Ldr magazine has often covered aspects of Deborah’s college work, particularly on the essence of successful partnerships between the sectors, as well as seeking her input on the key components of effective leadership. Whilst still a headteacher of Babington House School www.babingtonhouse.com/ Deborah initiated over 8 Independent State school partnerships, including rolling out middle leadership provision across Kent, and her school was cited in an HMI booklet outlining exemplary practice.

Deborah’s engagement with the college is because she is passionate about ensuring that all pupils are taught by outstanding leaders. She has previously been engaged with ISC in ensuring independent schools gained free safer recruitment training and that the independent sector had involvement in leadership training opportunities.

Deborah can be a conduit for information and can link the independent sector with the National College and she is still very happy to assist organisations with this.

For a summary of some of Deborah Leek-Bailey’s work with the National College of Teaching and Leadership, please refer to the list below:

  • Contributed to NPQH original design and new model.
  • NPQSL design.
  • Established links into leaders of independent schools that informed and enriched the work of the college and who acted as a reference group for the College.
  • Established links with major independent schools networks and associations.
  • Lead the delivery of a national conference for independent schools.
  • Identified contributors for NPQH material and other research initiatives, such as the analysis of “Outstanding” leadership within “All Through Schools”, working alongside NCTL and the Consortium of All Through schools (CATS) and visiting other educational establishments.
  • Encouraged suitably qualified Independent School Heads to become “Professional Partners”, “Leadership Development Schools” and to contemplate becoming “Teaching Schools”.
  • Lead for media articles and media liaison e.g. schools Commissioner, Guardian article on Teaching schools, LDR, ISC news bulletin and Independent Schools Magazine.
  • Input for Boarding School Association Deputy Heads conference
  • Joint organiser for NCTL meetings between CEO of college and Chairman and Chief Executives from Independent sector Associations.
  • Assisted with Models and Partnership case study.
  • Amended NLE and SLE criteria.
  • Chaired CAL (Cross Association Leadership Group) and facilitated meetings between CAL and key personnel within the college, regarding potential college provision.
  • Independent school mentor.
  • Member of National Chairs network.

Deborah’s commitment to wider professional development, particularly with independent state school partnerships, is inspiring.

She kindly invited me to participate in a conference that she had organised at the National College of Teaching and Leadership, and to have a variety of leaders from both sectors work so well together was fantastic to see.
Deborah is an impressive, thoughtful and knowledgeable public speaker and I look forward to working with her in the future.
Jim Stearns Headmaster.

“Deborah has a longstanding relationship with the National College. She has successfully developed and written leadership materials and is an excellent presenter and facilitator. Deborah has led the College’s engagement with the independent schools sector, organising and leading a number of highly successful, large scale conferences. As a recently serving headteacher, she has strong credibility with her colleagues and she speaks with the authenticity that comes from many years of excellent practice.”

John Stephens
Director of Teaching schools National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL)




DLB Experience

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