CAIS Leadership Institute

Supporting the learning and development of independent school leaders is a strategic priority for CAIS that supports school improvement and innovation. Recent CAIS research indicates a growing need for motivated, diverse, and expert leadership. The Leadership Praxis (Building the Future: The Importance of Leadership Development & Succession Planning in Our Schools PDF - in revision), is a framework of knowledge and competencies needed to be a successful independent school leader. They reflect the Indicators of Effective Practice highlighted in the refreshed 2021 CAIS Accreditation Standards. The Praxis has guided the structure of the Leadership Institute, ensuring that it is intentional, comprehensive and organized to meet the needs of aspiring leaders.

Benefits of the CAIS Leadership Institute Programs - Effective Summer 2021

Over the first 20 years of the LI program modules addressed elements of leadership and specific operational school functions. Moving forward, we have:

  • Grounded our program in research and developing leadership knowledge and competencies in areas aligned with school improvement (the indicators of effective practice in our Accreditation Standards);
  • Extended our module offerings to meet the needs of all aspiring leaders from both Education Program and School Operations functions;
  • Planned additional formal and informal time for participants to network when we return to an in-person format;
  • Included blended learning into our pedagogy;
  • Planned to embed principles of pluralism into all our offerings;
  • Created the new CAIS Foundations for School Leadership Program: Designing a Practice program to provide participants new to the LI Programs, a strong foundation of leadership knowledge, skills and practices as they specifically relate to their unique point in their development.

For further information see CAIS Leadership Institute FAQ’s or contact Catherine McCauley.


CAIS Leadership Institute Programs - 2021-22

The following programs are offered under the umbrella of the CAIS Leadership Institute (LI). Programs scheduled prior to December 2021 will be offered online. The method of presentation of programs beyond January 2022 will be confirmed. Click on the links for additional information on each program listed below or use the menu on the left.

CAIS Foundations for School Leadership Program: Designing a Practice

Independent school leadership development needs to begin with a knowledge of key leadership competencies and actions that meet you where you are in your career. With support from expert facilitators and the cohort experience you will gain a deeper sense of your strengths and areas for growth as you build both confidence and expertise.

  • This program is a prerequisite for new participants intending to complete the CAIS Diploma Program and earn the CAIS Diploma in Independent School Leadership (Effective Summer 2021).
  • Five (5) day introduction to the foundations of independent school leadership.
  • Launches summer 2021.
  • Upon completion, participants move on to the 10 module CAIS Diploma Program.

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CAIS Independent School Leadership Diploma Program

This program builds upon the CAIS Foundations for School Leadership Program: Designing a Practice, by offering six (6) required modules, focused on current leadership priorities. By selecting an additional four (4) elective modules in the three (3) different categories (Education Program, School Operations and Leadership Strategies and Structures), you can personalize your leadership development in your areas for growth as you earn your diploma.

Participants new to the Independent School Leadership Diploma Program

  • Participants new to the LI who intend to complete the Diploma Program are required to begin with the CAIS Foundations for School Leadership Program: Designing a Practice.
  • We understand that leaders and aspiring leaders may wish to take one or more modules but do not intend to complete the Diploma. We are happy to facilitate this and encourage you to contact the CAIS Professional Learning Coordinator to register.

Participants who registered prior to Summer 2021

  • Participants who complete the six (6) required modules and four (4) elective modules (10 in total), earn the CAIS Diploma in Independent School Leadership.
  • Please note that effective Summer 2020, Accreditation is not a required module.
  • Participants who have completed Accreditation can count it as one (1) of the 10.
  • Participants who have not taken Accreditation can take a different elective module.
  • Modules are offered Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.

How to Access the Modules

Modules are offered by CAIS at annually in the summer and at other times during the year. You may register for the Diploma modules by completing our online registration forms. CAIS will give recognition for a maximum of one module completed through other institutions (e.g. university graduate and additional qualification programs including Principal Qualification programs, etc.) provided equivalency and proof of completion are established.

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CAIS Honours Diploma Program

Independent school leadership requires a breadth of understanding of many key school functions. The CAIS Honours Diploma Program provides you with the opportunity to dig into these functions and develop a deeper understanding of less familiar school operations that relate to your leadership role in your school.

  • Participants who complete the CAIS Diploma Program and 5 additional modules of choice will earn the CAIS Honours Diploma in Independent School Leadership.
  • Select at least one module from each of the three categories (Education Program, School Operations and Leadership Strategies and Structures), and two others of your choice.
  • Modules offered - Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.

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CAIS Independent School Leadership Next Step Program

The Next Step Program is a limited enrolment leadership development experience designed for those aspiring to a role on a Senior Leadership Team or a Head of School. It is a two (2) year program intended for graduates of the CAIS Diploma Program or the CAIS Honours Diploma Program. There are four (4) main areas of leadership growth:

  1. Ensure emerging leaders participate with seasoned professionals at the Leadership Institute, as well as in job shadowing, accreditation, and mentoring experiences;
  2. Strengthen leadership capacity through new self and peer assessments, that develop self-awareness and support growth as a leader and learner; 
  3. Encourage peer support and collaboration through a National Cohort experience;
  4. Guide leaders in actively identifying an organizational need and designing an initiative through the development of a Change Project.
  • Two (2) summer sessions bookmark a year of cohort training and meetings.
  • Participants should have at least three years in a leadership role, have the support of their Head of school, and have demonstrated a commitment to professional learning.
  • Next cohort begins Summer 2022.

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Heads' Retreat

A Retreat for Reflection, Connections and Conversation

Dates: July 4-7, 2022
Location: Hockley Valley Resort, Mono, ON (one hour north of Toronto and 45 minutes from Toronto Pearson International Airport). 

We are so excited to be in person for this year's CAIS Heads Retreat! Facilitated by Martha Perry and Peter Sturrup, this year's Retreat will provide CAIS Heads of School with the opportunity for a time to get away, share thoughts, insights and challenges, gain different perspectives and have conversations with colleagues.

Participants need to be in attendance for and participate in the full Retreat. Please ensure travel plans and logistics allow you to do so. The Retreat will begin with registration at 11:30 AM ET on Monday, July 4 and end at approximately 1:00 PM ET on Thursday, July 7. A detailed agenda will be sent prior to the start of the Retreat.

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