Further Education Strategic Leadership Programme for Principals and CEOs

Develop a deeper understanding of your leadership role and drive growth for the Further Education sector


  • 3 modules

Time commitment:

  • Short programme


  • Oxford

Supporting professional development in FE


The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) is the expert body for professional development and standards in Further Education (FE) and Training.

We are proud to work in partnership with the ETF to design and deliver curated learning experiences, supporting FE leaders as they achieve their professional development goals for the benefit of their organisations, their learners and the wider economy.

Since 2017, almost 400 CEOs, Principals, Chairs of Boards and senior managers from FE colleges have deepened their knowledge across the sector through these programmes.

About the programme

Leadership is the key to success for any organisation, and the leadership challenges in the Further Education sector continue to grow in size and complexity.

The Further Education Strategic Leadership Programme for Principals and CEOs (FESLP) has been commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to provide Principals and CEOs with a deeper understanding of their role as change agents. It supports them in the critical part they play in delivering the ambitious plans for the FE sector, raising its capability and prestige. It applies thinking about leadership in the context of themselves as individuals, their organisation and the sector as a whole.

Key themes include adaptive leadership, strategic thinking, strategic finance, collaboration and partnerships, resilience, reputation and prestige. Highly interactive sessions are led by faculty from across the University of Oxford and practitioners from diverse specialisms, providing the space and opportunity to learn from different perspectives. 

The programme is subsidised by the Department for Education for eligible organisations funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). 


The programme provides the opportunity to explore the important part you can play in delivering ambitious plans for the FE sector, raising its capability and prestige. There are ample opportunities to apply leadership thinking at the level of the individual, the organisation, and the sector as a whole. You are encouraged to broaden your personal network across the sector and to engage in collective and individual debate and endeavour.

Small group tutorials take place between modules, facilitating work on self-identified areas of strategic priority and to engage in action learning discussion.

By completing the programme, you will also gain:

  • a deeper understanding of your individual leadership purpose and approach, whilst honing the ability to communicate a compelling vision with impact.
  • an enhanced capacity to operate at a senior level in a complex and fast-changing environment, drawing on learnings from sector trends and the future of work and skills.
  • membership of the Oxford Business Alumni Network, accessing benefits across the wider University of Oxford.

The Oxford method, the tutoring approach, and being exposed to some of the world's greatest thinkers in leadership and management has given me the opportunity to think, act, and lead differently.

Yiannis Koursis OBE

CEO and Principal, Barnsley College

Programme outline

The programme is made up of three residential modules, supported by personal coaching between sessions to complement your learning.


Online personal assessment, including a one-to-one session to understand your development objectives.  

Module one

Dates to be confirmed

Module two

Dates to be confirmed 

Module three

Dates to be confirmed 

Meet the faculty

The programme is led by Steve Mostyn and Louise Watts, who create an exceptional curriculum delivered across modules through sessions combining interactive discussion, provocation, expert insight, facilitation, and reflection.

Faculty from the School are joined by academics from the wider University of Oxford, representatives from the FE sector and the broader business community, contributing thought-leadership perspectives and practitioner insights.

Creating System Change in FE

Learn more

David Russell, Executive in Residence at Oxford Saïd and former CEO of the ETF, is leading a collaborative project on how to envisage and create a self-improving system for the FE sector.

Having worked extensively at the heart of the sector, David will bring together insights from Oxford faculty and key FE players to establish actions from critical research.