FAQs for Applicants

When do applications close?

The Difference are recruiting on a rolling basis and therefore there is no closing date for the Difference Leaders programme. We will close applications when places have been filled. Due to a competitive process and high quality candidates during last year’s selection process, we advise that you apply sooner rather than later!

Do I have to leave my current school?

Yes. The Difference asks all participants who are successfully matched to an AP school to leave their schools to take up a full-time role in their placement AP school. Difference Leaders are supported to return to mainstream school as senior leaders after the programme. This might be to their original school.

Are there specific eligibility criteria to be a Difference Leader?

Yes. All applicants will be required to complete a registration form to determine their eligibility for the programme. All applicants will need to confirm that they:

  • have the right to work in the UK for the duration of the programme

  • have a valid QTS

  • have a minimum of 3 years’ teaching experience in a mainstream school

  • are not currently working in an AP school, a PRU or an SEND school.

Will I be placed in a Special Measures AP school?

No. 82% of PRUs, AP academies and AP Free Schools nationally are Good or Outstanding. Yet Ofsted reports show a school improvement pattern in the need to raise expectations in teaching and learning, and to improve assessment for learning, data monitoring and assessment.  The Difference only places in Good or Outstanding provisions, where it knows its Difference Leaders will be able to work within a strong team to contribute to school improvement and improved pupil outcomes.

I’m a primary school teacher, can I still apply?

Yes. We accept applications from primary and secondary teachers. We have AP placements int both phases too, although it is possible that primary practitioners may be placed in secondary AP settings. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have more questions about this, or want to know about the primary Difference Leaders already on the programme.

Will I have to move house?

No. Once we have our pool of successful applicants, we seek to match them with AP schools within a commutable distance. This year we are placing in AP schools across London and the South East, the North West and Yorkshire & Humber. If you are willing to be placed in two or more regions (which would involve relocation), you can indicate this at registration.

If a geographical match is not possible, some successful applicants may want to be offered the option to defer their place.

How is AP different from mainstream?

AP schools (PRUs, AP Free Schools and AP Academies) typically serve 50-100 pupils on site.  Sometimes there are multiple sites within one ‘school’, serving different cohorts (e.g. pupils with medical needs; pupils who have been permanently excluded at Key Stage 4; pupils who are on a short-term placement in Key Stage 2).  AP schools have higher teacher-to-pupil ratios, with an average class size of about 5-10.  Working with vulnerable pupils often means more opportunity to work closely with practitioners in social work, child and adolescent mental health services and youth offending teams. 

What will my role be?

The Difference matches candidates who are successful in our selection process with the right role for them in an AP school.  Some of our AP partner schools need Associate SLT, others need Assistant Headteachers and others, Deputy Headteachers. We will match leaders to schools taking into account Difference Leaders’ experience and specialisms. However, in all placements there is an opportunity to lead a teaching and learning school improvement project in Year 1; and a wellbeing and safeguarding school improvement project in Year 2.

What will my pay progression be?

The Difference pledges to match your current salary, up to L14.  After the two-year programme, The Difference will work to broker onwards career progression.  The mainstream schools we are working with offer a wide range of posts, including leading inclusion across multiple school sites as part of SLT, Deputy Headship in mainstream and becoming Head Designate at a new AP Free School linked to a mainstream multi-academy trust.

Has the curriculum been tested before?

This is an innovative programme that is built on existing best practice and delivered in partnership with leading practitioners across the country.  We draw on the practice of schools achieving brilliant outcomes with pupils, such as The Family School, whose intensive family coaching alongside trauma-aware teaching allows 100% of pupils to be reintegrated back into mainstream or referred to the right special school.  The course is accredited with a National Professional Qualification, and delivered by our own expert curriculum team, who have a strong track record of school leadership, teacher development and specialist training leading to improved school inclusion.

What happens when I apply?

The Difference recruitment team will review your registration and if you meet our eligibility criteria we will then invite you to the three stage selection process. The three stage process consists of an online application form, followed by a phone interview, and finally a ‘selection centre’ day in a school. On this day, we will ask you to interview, teach, observe, and take part in some other activities - with many similarities to an interview day for a new teaching job.

What are the training commitments?

There will be nine days of training over the summer before the programme begins. These will take place in the first and last weeks of the school summer holidays.

Over the course of the year on the programme there are 6 away days, 6 twilight sessions, 6 tutor visits, in-school mentoring, fortnightly supervision, assignments and reading. The structure of the programme is the same in year two though the nature of the learning will differ.

If you have any remaining questions or concerns about your application to the Difference Leaders Programme, please contact us at recruitment@the-difference.com.

Applications for the 2020 cohort will are now open!