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The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is the first choice qualification for anyone aspiring to be a Headteacher.

Following a significant review, NPQH has been redesigned. The new qualification not only focuses on the key skills needed for headship, but also meets the highest standards for leadership development anywhere in the world. NPQH is a high bar that will challenge and develop talented leaders from all backgrounds who can deliver educational excellence in a self-improving system, and high quality outcomes for pupils and students.

  • Introduction
    • Who is this for?

      Candidates should be highly motivated to become a headteacher, no more than 12–18 months from applying for headship posts and have the full support of their headteacher or line manager. They should then be ready to take up a headship as soon as they graduate. Candidates must have the full support and endorsement of their headteacher, line manager or sponsor. Their line manager will also have to commit to playing an active role in their learning, and encourage and promote their involvement in leadership and other professional development opportunities.

      Qualification overview

      The qualification is assessed and accredited by the National College and consists of a flexible, modular structure that combines core modules with the freedom to specialise and to develop candidate's own professional areas of interest through the choice of elective modules.

      Modules cover three learning areas: educational excellence; operational management; and strategic leadership. All focus on improving the effectiveness of leadership practice. Each module consists of workplace learning and practice activities; face-to-face workshops; and online learning. Candidates will have the opportunity to:

      • access high-quality learning materials and access accounts of practice from outstanding leaders
      • reflect on their own leadership through discussion and debate with peers
      • put theory into practice and continue to improve their own leadership in order to have a greater impact within their institution

      Activities within modules have been designed to stimulate and challenge thinking, build knowledge, skills and expertise, and promote change and improvement in leadership behaviours, capability and capacity.

      To achieve the National Professional Qualification for Headship you will need to successfully complete three essential and two elective modules.


      Essential Modules Elective Modules
      Leading and improving teaching Curriculum development
      Leading an effective school Achievement for all
      Succeeding in headship Closing the gap
        Using data and evidence to improve performance
        Leading staff and effective teams
        Leading change for improvement
        Leadership in diverse contexts

      Applying for NPQH

      Step 1: online application form

      Applicants must first complete the National College online application form matching their skills and experience against the competencies within the NPQH assessment framework. A sponsor (usually their line manager) will need to endorse the application form to confirm suitability and readiness for headship and NPQH.

      Step 2: one-day gateway assessment

      If the application form provides sufficient evidence that they meet the competency requirements for NPQH, applicants will be invited to attend the second stage of the application process: a one-day assessment event.

      Step 3: register with a provider

      Applicants successful at the gateway stage will receive a Unique Reference Number from the National College. Once they receive this, they can apply for a NPQH place with us via our online registration form

      Applicants awaiting the outcome of their gateway assessment are required to register with a licensee between 27th November and 18th December.

      For more information please use our contact form or call 0117 920 9209.

    • What are the benefits?

      • Benefit from facilitation and mentoring from outstanding leaders across all phase including LLEs and NLEs
      • Face to face sessions will take place across the North West, at venues centred around applicant locations
      • Take advantage of fast-track opportunities to apply and be considered for posts in the Partnership's schools and their alliances and clusters
      • On-going leadership support beyond NPQSL
      • Opt to accrue Credits and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points to contribute towards a Master's degree
      • Option to undertake elective modules at NPQH level as part of your NPQSL that can be stored and used towards NPQH at a later point
    • How is it delivered?

      Candidates can opt to complete the NPQH programme in 6-18 months. Our typical delivery model covers a 12 month period.The delivery model consists of the following elements:

      • Seven face to face events, spread throughout course duration
      • Three four-week facilitated online short courses
      • Regular online web conferencing to support candidates through the qualification
      • Support from a nominated in-school mentor
      • Learning visits

      Candidates will be supported through the programme by a personal tutor. The tutor will provide a mixture of learning facilitation, coaching and pastoral support. Contact with the tutor will be face to face, by telephone and online.


      The qualification is delivered at high quality venues throughout the North West with candidates assigned to their most local group.

      We aim to make delivery as flexible and accessible as possible for our participants. We are delivering NPQH across the North West including:

      • Bolton
      • Chester
      • Liverpool
      • Manchester
      • Preston
      • Warrington
      A distance learning model is available for candidates dependant on their location and circumstances, please contact us to learn more.

    • What does it cost?

      School Type School Size Base fee Subsidy Fee payable
      Primary Schools Teacher from a state school in England <100 on roll £1,400 £1,400 £0
      Teacher from a state school in England 101-250 on roll £1,400 £700 £700
      Teacher from a state school in England >250 on roll £1,400 £158 £1,242
      Secondary Schools Teacher from a state school in England <500 on roll £1,400 £1,400 £0
      Teacher from a state school in England >500 on roll £1,400 £158 £1,242
      Other schools Teacher from an independent school £1,774* - £1,774
      Teacher from a school outside England Please contact us for details
      *includes an additional fee for assessment


      School leaders who have successfully completed the Leadership Pathways (LP) or Tomorrow's Heads programmes and wish to undertake the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) can request exemption from an elective module. An exemption is also available for candidates that have completed post graduate studies in educational leadership (certificates, diploma and higher degrees). The exemptions are only available for qualifications undertaken within the last three years and will entitle candidates to a discount of £100 from the course fee.

    • Media