The problem

We are facing a leadership crisis, with Headteachers feeling pushed out of the education system.  Recent research highlighted that 23% of Headteachers say they are likely to leave the profession in the next two years, citing stress levels during the pandemic.

It is vital that these leaders have support to embrace new ways of leading young people, to be nurtured in their roles and encouraged to remain in the profession.

“The pandemic has had an amplifying effect on society.  For headteachers in particular, it has amplified loneliness and isolation felt while leading a school and the community through Covid-19, as well as amplifying the recruitment and retention crisis.”

James Pope

23% of headteachers say they are likely to leave the profession in the next two years, citing stress levels during the pandemic.

The solution

A national network to support, coach and nurture headteachers to drive change.

InspirEDucate’s HeadsUp4HTs programme will build a large national network of headteachers and leaders and enable them to question and challenge the current education system. Initially, HeadsUp aims to build a network of 1000 members, rapidly scaling up to 10,000 in the next two years.

HeadsUp4HTs members will coach each other, while being nurtured and supported to think differently about how they educate young people in their communities. They will become positive disruptors; a network of leaders supported to collectively campaign for change within their individual communities, leading change at a grassroots level.

The programme will create leadership development programmes that focus on ethical leadership, emotional intelligences, educational vision, change leadership and peer coaching support. Ultimately developing the leadership skills that will enable leaders to flourish and lead change in our system – to be the leaders that they want to be.

Work in action

Founder James Pope wants to make a big impact on the current education system.

He wants to see:

  • headteachers and leaders that are enabled to create change in the schools that need them the most, seeing what they can do when they are supported to think differently
  • a significant change on the perception of Headship as a career aspiration and consequently the Headship recruitment and retention crisis.

The network has been well received by Headteachers across the UK. Despite themes and content touching on some negative personal experiences, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

Headteachers taking part in HeadsUp are appreciative of the network and its role in celebrating the role of headship, while calling for greater appreciation from the system. Organisations and unions have also been wholly supportive.

You can view the events, discussions, think pieces and case studies on the HeadsUp website.

“I’d like to see an end to the social mobility narrative in education. How can we empower young people to be the best people they can be, not just make the most money?”

Part of the HeadsUp network

The Big Changers

James Pope, founder

James is the founding Director of InspirEducate and Whole Education’s Executive Director for Schools and Trust, with 15+ years of school leadership experience.  He describes himself as an accidental teacher and a deliberate leader, realising that through school leadership he could work alongside others to deliver a vision for education.

He is passionate about education, learning and leadership and believes in the power that education has to inspire young people and transform lives.


We’re proud to have backed HeadsUp4HTs to expand their offer to headteachers. Since being funded by Big Change in 2020, they have grown the HeadsUp formal membership network by 700%. The number of active members who: have one-to-one coaching, peer support sessions and write for the website has increased five-fold since the start of Big Change funding.  

HeadsUp4HTs have formed partnerships with the National Governance Association to create a guide for governing board chairs and headteacher development. They also partnered with Opogo to share their tools more widely. While the data and recognition speak for themselves, headteachers themselves have also confirmed the transformative impact of HeadsUp4HT’s work:

“Each week my cup is refilled as I meet with people like me. Heads who sometimes struggle, Heads who are finding it tough, Heads who are courageous in their pursuit of a better education, for their own communities and beyond. Within this group, I have a voice. I am valued and listened to. I am supported”

“The #Hopes4Ed event was incredibly powerful, it made me challenge my core values and think about some changes I could make in my school that could have a huge impact on the community and beyond. I felt like I had a voice and I was heard.”