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National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)


NPQH is the first choice qualification for anyone aspiring to be a headteacher. The qualification focuses on the key skills needed for headship and 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.

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  • Introduction
    • Who is this for?

      NPQH is suitable for candidates who are be highly motivated to become a Headteacher, no more than 18 months from applying for headship. Candidates must pass the gateway assessment before applying to Outstanding Leaders Partnership. Please contact us if you would like to discuss eligibility

      Qualification overview

      NPQH provides recognition of leadership development and professional achievement for anyone aspiring to be a Headteacher. Trainee Heads have access to high-quality learning materials and accounts of practice from outstanding leaders, will reflect on their own leadership through discussion with peers and put theory into practice continuing to improve their own leadership in order to have a greater impact within their institution.

      The qualification has a flexible combination of blended learning and support opportunities that includes face-to-face sessions, online learning, leadership learning groups, personal tutor, peer support, coaching and school placement. Candidates will complete three essential and two elective modules. Modules cover three learning areas: educational excellence; operational management; and strategic leadership. All focus on improving the effectiveness of leadership practice.


      Trainee Heads are required to complete three assessed tasks demonstrating that they can deliver successful and sustainable improvement in their school or setting:

      • Task 1: leading school improvement priority in own (or agreed) school
      • Task 2: leading school improvement tasks, working in partnership with the placement school
      • Task 3: case study and presentation/interview

      NPQH is assessed and accredited by the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

    • How is it delivered?

      Delivery covers a 12 month period with the expectation that candidates will submit for final assessment within 18 months. During the qualification candidates benefit from:

      • seven training events
      • three facilitated online courses alongside peers1
      • termly face-to-face and online coaching sessions
      • regular online conferences to support and compliment learning
      • access to two 360° leadership diagnostics
      • support from a nominated in-school mentor
      • facilitation and coaching from serving school leaders in outstanding schools
      • a nine-day school placement (chosen with candidate to determine location, phase and specialism)
      • purpose-built virtual learning environment, engineered to enable a customised and collaborative space
      • option to accrue Credits and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points to contribute towards a Master's degree


      Download the delivery schedule


      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 candidates.

      Below is an interactive map showing the locations of groups we have already run (click OLP groups in the top corner to zoom to locations):

      View OLP Groups in a full screen map

      Our aim is to locate candidates in groups that are no more than 30 minutes’ drive from their home. Where this is not possible candidates will be notified and offered their most convenient group.

      1. Online courses take around 20 hours per course and cover a 4 week period. The courses provide learners with a pathway through the modules and are made up of case studies, online discussion, accounts of practice, opinion pieces and work based investigation.back to main text

    • What does it cost?

      School Type Fee payable
      Secondary schools with 500 or fewer pupils on roll and Primary schools with 100 or fewer pupils on roll £0
      Primary schools with more than 100 pupils on roll and Secondary schools with more than 500 pupils on roll £1175
      Independent/Overseas Schools £2375 + £1500 Assessment fees

      The fees listed take into account a National College for Teaching and Leadership scholarship that is provided for schools from the English state-maintained sector.


      School leaders who have a Masters degree in Educational Leadership can request an exemption from the elective module. 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.

      Fees for school clusters or alliance groups

      We can set up bespoke groups for schools or school alliances that have 10 or more colleagues that wish to undertake the NPQH qualification. Bespoke groups have the advantage of being able to select their own course dates and use their own facilities for the training. A bespoke group will also bring a financial benefit to reflect any cost saving achieved.

      Become an OLP delivery hub

      The Outstanding Leaders Partnership aims to build capacity by engaging with Good/Outstanding schools as delivery hubs to run leadership and business management training in their locality.

      Delivery hubs provide venues, facilitators and marketing to secure candidates in their locality. Delivery partner ‘hub’ membership is by application/invitation based on the geographical spread and ability to meet identified OLP principles, protocols and quality standards. Please see the “Work with us” section to find out more.

    • 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.

      Please contact us to register your interest and we can update you when the application window for the Autumn 2016 intake opens.

      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 to undertake the development stage of NPQH place with the Outstanding Leaders Partnership.

      Applicants awaiting the outcome of their gateway assessment will be invited to register for the development stage of the qualification between Monday 23rd November and Friday 18th December.

      Register for the development stage

      When completing the registration form you will need to know your teacher reference number (TRN) and your school URN, size and type. If you are unsure of your TRN then you can contact CAPITA on 01325 745000 and they will be able to provide this information. The school details required for your application can be found on the government schools database.

      Further information

      For further information please call 0117 920 9424 or sent us an email via our contact form.