Preparing for CEO Programme

Preparing for CEO programme coverLaunched in 2018, this programme, delivered by Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and funded by the Department for Education is aimed specifically for experienced Further Education leaders who are looking to step up to the role of Principal or CEO in the next 1-2 years. Over 130 participants have taken part already.

It is designed to help those preparing to take on the role of Principal and CEO to be able to articulate purpose and set vision, think strategically in the short to medium and for the long term. Over 130 participants have taken part already and more than 25 of these delegates have already been promoted to the role of Principal or CEO within the FE sector.

By the end, participants will be able to work with a complex set of internal and external stakeholders, develop and lead high performing teams, manage performance with strong commercial acumen, and have a deep commitment to delivering public value.

Key benefits

Participants benefit from having the knowledge and confidence to:

  • become the Chief Accounting Officer – leading financial security
  • direct the educational nature of the college; creating and leading a clear vision
  • take responsibility for staff and build high performing teams
  • respond to key trends within the FE and training sector
  • orchestrate the values, culture and organisational alignment of the college
  • forge deeper and broader networks within the FE and training sector
  • drive excellence in governance and working collaboratively with the Board
  • transition to the role of principal/CEO in the next 1-2 years.

Richard Atkins, the FE Commissioner has highlighted attendance on the ETF Leadership courses as one of his 10 recommendations for effective colleges leadership. He has stated that colleges should, “Ensure that your Chair, Principal/CEO and FD attend the relevant Said Business School/ETF leadership programmes. Feedback from these programmes is overwhelmingly positive.”

Programme content

The programme is a mix of strategic leadership and technical development and key themes include:

  • adaptive leadership
  • understanding your leadership style
  • networking
  • decision making and ethics
  • reputation
  • culture and values
  • working collaboratively with stakeholders and governance board
  • resilience
  • stepping up to the role of Principal/CEO
  • understanding finance / possessing business acumen.

All participants will be eligible for membership of Oxford Business Alumni.


“The programme has been incredibly insightful and inspiring with every element bringing forth new ways of thinking about leadership. This course will leave a lasting positive impact.”

Helen Thomas, Principal, Greater Brighton Metropolitan College

“The programme was excellent. I personally enjoyed being taken out of my comfort zone and challenged in ways that I could never have imagined.”

Chris Todd, Principal and Chief Executive, Derwentside College

“I really feel that I have started on a very exciting new journey. it’s been very thought provoking.”

Chris Mclean, Principal, Milton College

See programme brochure or watch this video, co-created with the Saïd Business School about our Leadership and Governance development programmes.

To find out more, please contact Zoë Card at