Leading Professional Standards: a Toolkit for Leaders

Leading Professional Standards toolkit contents:

Setting the scene

Welcome to the Leading Professional Standards Toolkit, designed to help develop leadership across all levels of your organisation. This toolkit builds on the Professional Standards for Leaders (2021) by spotlighting 10 key leadership themes which cut across the Professional Standards for aspiring, middle, senior leaders and CEOs/Principals. The 10 themes explore what connects leaders and enables them to lead effectively. The 10 key themes are: 

  1. Reflective practice
  2. Building positive relationships
  3. Inspirational teaching and learning
  4. Innovation and forward thinking
  5. Ethical leadership
  6. Role model and cultivate a positive working culture
  7. Strategic leadership
  8. Effective communication
  9. Finance
  10. Policies and legislation

In the following video, Professor Steve Corbett, University of Portsmouth, introduces the toolkit and explains how it aligns with the Professional Standards and 10 key leadership themes.

Voices from the sector

We have created 10 ‘voices from the sector’ videos mapped to the 10 key leadership themes. In each video, leaders and managers discuss how they use the Professional Standards, underpinned by the leadership themes, with their staff.

After watching the videos, you may wish to ask yourself:

  • How does my organisation use Professional Standards when developing leaders – aspiring, middle, senior and CEO?
  • Which Professional Standards leadership themes do I want to explore as part of my professional development and why?
Image of one of the voices from the sector YouTube videos

Professional development

We have mapped professional development opportunities available from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) resources to the 10 key leadership themes. This will be useful if you or your staff have recently completed a Training Needs Analysis to help identify areas of development. 

Browse the table below to view resources which match each of the 10 key leadership themes.

Professional Standards Leadership Theme Theme DescriptionProfessional Development Opportunity
1. Reflective practiceLeaders recognise the importance of reflecting on one’s leadership or management style, considering its impact on oneself and others.

Professional Development Leadership Cards

2. Building positive relationshipsLeaders develop positive and collaborative relationships with internal colleagues, learners and key external stakeholders including employers.

How To Lead When You’re Not In Charge Programme Workbook

3. Inspirational teaching and learningLeaders foster an environment that supports inspirational teaching, through encouraging Continuous Professional Development and robust quality assurance which has a positive impact on learners.

Teaching for mastery: classroom resources

Assessment for learning: effective practice guidelines

Mentoring Framework for Practitioners in Further Education

Technical Education resources

SEND resources

4. Innovation and forward thinkingLeaders are solution-focused, innovative, and forward-thinking in delivering a high-quality learning environment is a common expectation.

CfEM action research resources

Blog on developing innovative mindsets for leaders

5. Ethical leadershipLeaders understand and practise ethical leadership, including consideration of ethical decision-making.

Ethical leadership video

Leading for Sustainability: a Toolkit for Leaders

6. Role model and cultivate a positive working cultureLeaders create and maintain a positive working culture within the organisation, with attention to professional development, work life balance, inclusivity, social awareness, and emotional maturity.

Mental health and emotional wellbeing

Case studies

7. Strategic leadershipLeaders understand and contribute to organisational governance, strategy, quality assurance, and sustainability.

Governance Development Programme module overview

Board leadership and organisational development

8. Effective communicationLeaders utilise effective written and verbal communication skills to build professional relationships with both internal and external stakeholders.

Innovation: the difficult conversations

9. FinanceLeaders have an understanding of effective financial management and ensure the financial viability of the organisation.

ETF finance leadership programmes

10. Policies and legislationLeaders have an understanding of local and national policies and seek to enable change where required.

The FE and training conversation: research summary

FE teacher recruitment and the landscape of FE


Further resources

Below are additional resources relating to the Professional Standards for Leaders. Resources will open in new tabs.

We hope you find this toolkit useful to support your development and practice and would appreciate your feedback to inform the continuous improvement of our offer. Please take a couple of minutes to complete a short survey to tell us about your experience.