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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 visit the register tab to find out more.

      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?

      Trainee heads are expected to completion the qualification within a 12 month period. Trainee headteachers benefit from:

      • five face-to-face training events
      • five facilitated online courses working alongside peers1
      • termly face-to-face and online coaching sessions
      • regular online conferences to support and complement learning 
      • access to two 360° leadership skills diagnostics
      • support from a nominated in-school mentor
      • facilitation and coaching from serving school leaders in outstanding schools
      • a nine-day school placement (identified according to location, phase and specialism)
      • mobile enabled virtual learning environment enabling flexible access to course resources and support community
      • 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 15 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?

      The Outstanding Leaders Partnership is providing a £500 scholarship for the first 90 eligible1 registrants. Making the fee payable £1,750.

      Scholarships will be deducted automatically from the fee outlined below.

      School type Fee payable
      All state-maintained schools and academies £2250
      Independent/Overseas Schools £2250 + £1500 assessment fees

      The National College for Teaching and Leadership have committed to funding final assessment for all eligible candidates1 submitting prior to September 2017. For candidates submitting after this date the assessment fee will be no more than £1,5002.

      1All English state-maintained schools and academies
      2Subject to change


      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

      Applications for Autumn 2016 are now open! The deadline is Thursday 9th June.

      Please download/complete the guidance documents and Gateway application form from our partners at Best Practice Network to begin the application process. They also have a step-by-step guide available to download that will help you with your application.

      Step 2: one-day gateway assessment

      Successful applicants will be notified by Tuesday 5th July and proceed to step 3.

      Where outcomes are inconclusive, an interview will be conducted to establish readiness.

      Step 3: results and interviews

      Applicants successful at the application or interview stage will be invited to register to complete the development stage of NPQH place with the Outstanding Leaders Partnership, beginning Autumn 2016

      Register for the development stage

      When completing the registration form you will need to know your teacher reference number (TRN). If you are unsure of your TRN then you can download a copy of your QTS certificate from the NCTL Teacher Services website to check this information. 

      Further information

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