BLOG: Building a support network for our members

Leading a special school can be a lonely job – and that’s when things are going well! When things are tough, because you’re new to your role or your school has received an unfavourable inspection judgement, we know that many of our members have struggled to find the right support.

NASS is committed to growing a high-quality network of support for our member schools. Since 2021, we have partnered with The Mulberry Bush to train experienced school leaders to act as School Improvement Partners (SIPS). A good SIP is a significant asset to a school – acting as a critical friend, guide and sounding board to help school leaders seeking continuous improvement.

The SIP training programme, led by Andy Lole, Deirdre Fitzpatrick and Dominic Salles, puts delegates through a rigorous nine months of training to ensure that they have the right skills to support schools. To date, we have sponsored 12 NASS members to become SIPS and have another six due to graduate in July this year. If you are a NASS member, you can read more about our current SIPS in our Member Zone.

All of our sponsored SIPs have committed to giving back to NASS by offering three days of their time free to a NASS member school. If you are a school seeking SIP support, you may be eligible for this offer. NASS is specifically seeking to support schools that have received a recent Ofsted judgement of ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ or where there has been a change of leadership in the past six months. If you are interested in taking up this offer, please contact me at and I’ll match you with one of our approved SIPs.

If you are an experienced special school leader interested in becoming a School Improvement Partner, NASS is sponsoring a further seven places for the programme starting in September 2024. Applications are open until 1st March 2024 and should be made directly to The Mulberry Bush as instructed in the flyer below. If you wish to apply for a sponsored place, you will need to contact me directly.

2024/5 SIP Training: Overview brochure

NASS Conditions of Sponsorship: Download form