Difference Leaders Programme Overview

The Difference Leaders programme is a two year programme designed to train the next generation of school leaders, specialist in improving outcomes for the most vulnerable children.

A Difference Leader is:

  • Inspired by the problem of exclusion and our solution. Believes better outcomes are possible for the most vulnerable children.

  • Loves teaching, and developing the teaching and learning of others to see pupils make progress (and is willing to teach beyond their subject).

  • Enjoys challenge and ambiguity – we are pioneering an evidence base together.  The Difference has a lot of questions; we are looking for the bold practitioners who can join the programme and help answer them.

  • A systemic thinker who likes to draw the wider lesson from experiences - to develop the evidence base of what works for the most vulnerable in classroom pedagogy, school policy and local area practice.

The Difference Leaders Programme is: Creating the inclusive school leaders of tomorrow, via specialist training and a two-year post in the senior leadership team of a pupil referral unit leading school improvement in: Teaching & Learning and Wellbeing & Safeguarding. This work is vital to improving life outcomes for the most vulnerable children. Find out more about the programme content.

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This is a much-needed initiative to address the complex problem of school exclusion. Schools need to work closely with social care and mental health services to support our most disadvantaged pupils. ARK Schools welcome the development of The Difference, and its ambition to create a new generation of specialist school leaders.
— Lucy Heller, CEO of Ark multi-academy trust
Too few teachers know about the alternative provision sector and how incredible it is to work there. Our leaders change lives: their work makes the difference between success and failure, hope and hopelessness, in some instances even life and death. Every day is a privilege. The Difference seeks to inspire more colleagues to join us in this vital work.
— Dave Whitaker, Executive Principal Springwell Academies