CAIS Independent School Leadership Next Step Program

Developing Leaders for Canada's Best Independent Schools


The Next Step for CAIS School Leaders

All schools have undergone rapid and unforeseen changes due to recent events. The need to plan now for uncertain scenarios and to make strategic changes to ensure the long term sustainability of your school is critical. Leadership teams must be confident, strong, nimble and decisive. The CAIS Next Step Program will help your team to build leadership capacity now. 

Four Areas Of Leadership Development

  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.
Next Step Candidate Profile
The Next Step Program is designed for leaders who have:
  • Completed at least three years in a school leadership role;
  • The support of their Head of School;
  • Demonstrated commitment to professional learning. 
Preference will be given to candidates who have completed several modules at the Leadership Institute.

The Program

The Next Step Program is a limited enrolment leadership development experience that involves two summer programs at the CAIS Leadership Institute (July 2020 and July 2021). Participants meet periodically throughout the 2020-21 academic year to hear from guest speakers, receive support for their Change Project and complete an additional self evaluation. In addition, participants who have not yet completed the Human Resources module of the CAIS Diploma Program (LI) will do so in Year 1.  

Get more program details by downloading the 2020-2021 CAIS Next Step Program Outline and Agreement Forms PDF.

The Next Step Program cohort is presently in Year 2. Registration for the upcoming Cohort will be open in Fall 2021.


"I think there are four areas where Next Steps adds great value. The first is an overview of the various aspects that independent school administrators face. As many emerging leaders come from the academic world, an introduction to finance, advancement, HR, operations, risk management, etc can be enlightening. The second, are insights into the broader topic of effective leadership in changing times. The third was the opportunity to dig into a meaningful change project, with the support of mentors and peers. Having a support team as we work through the highs and lows was incredibly valuable. The last area, is the Next Steps community itself. The program accepts a diverse group of individuals with varying formal leadership positions who all share a passion for education, a commitment to personal group and a belief in the work of independent schools in Canada. We shared our professional successes and failures, pushed each other to dig a bit deeper and even enjoyed a little bread and wine together.

Finally a word on our mentors/instructors... CAIS pulled together a wonderfully diverse group of facilitators, who brought passion and knowledge from both within the independent world and beyond. These facilitators clearly cared about our growth journey and went above and beyond to support us for the two years - what a team! "

Neil Piller, St. George’s School, Vancouver

I found the most valuable take away were the relationships built, particularly during year 2 of the program, over the final summer session. I found the group opened up during that second summer session, and members were willing to be vulnerable. It taught me how much having a network of peers – even a few key people – who have shared experiences and are willing to talk about their successes and total mess ups. It made leadership feel a lot less lonely. To top it off, I now have genuine relationships within this network that I can rely on – more so than any amount of “surface” networking at a conference or professional networking event could ever provide. That has most definitely been the greatest takeaway from the Next Step programme."

Katrina Sampson, Appleby College

Next Step Program Cohorts

2018-2019 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - Shawnigan Lake School

2017-2018 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - King's-Edgehill School

2015-2016 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - St. Andrew's College

2013-2014 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - Ridley College

2011-2012 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - Shawnigan Lake School