National Professional Qualification
for Headship (NPQH)

For school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school.

Develop Your Understanding of the Key Concepts Underpinning Successful Headship

Awards 60 Master's Credits

Set an Ambitious School Vision and Establish a Culture in Which Staff and Pupils are Able to Thrive

Next Intake Autumn 2022

National Professional Qualification (NPQ): Headship

NPQH gives participants all of the essential knowledge, skills and concepts that underpin successful headship. Participants will cover ‘learn that’ and ‘learn how to’ statements in ten areas:

  • 1 – School Culture
  • 2 – Teaching
  • 3 – Curriculum and Assessment
  • 4 – Behaviour
  • 5 – Additional and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • 6 – Professional Development
  • 7 – Organisational Management
  • 8 – Implementation
  • 9 – Working in Partnership
  • 10 – Governance and Accountability
  • See NPQH Framework tab for full programme content.

What are the benefits?

The fully blended learning approach combined with performance coaching and enrichment activities make this an exciting and valuable opportunity for current and aspiring headteachers.

The NPQH qualification is aligned to Masters credits and can act as a springboard on to Liverpool Hope University’s MA in Leading in Education or the MBA in Educational Leadership.

Benefits for Participants

  • Focus on and develop the key skills needed for headship
  • Internationally recognised, high standard organisation for leadership development
  • Challenge and development to deliver educational excellence in a self-improving system which will enable high-quality outcomes for pupils and students
  • Time to reflect on leadership practice and to network with a wide range of school leaders
  • Increased awareness and understanding of self and of the behaviours needed to lead a school
  • Increased confidence to drive the vision and improve standards
  • Increased capability and capacity to take on whole-school responsibility and a strengthened ability to hold others to account

Benefits for Schools

    • Support succession of school leaders and build a cohesive, impact-focused school leadership team
    • A professionally aware and informed leader who can make evidence-based decisions and approach new challenges in an effective and efficient manner
  • The ability to delegate responsibility effectively empowering staff to lead on whole-school improvement
  • The ability to review and evaluate practice in order to bring about change and get the best outcomes for young people and staff within the organisation

How is NPQH Delivered?

NPQH makes use of a blended delivery model consisting of face-to-face events, online study, webinars and coaching.

NPQH participants will attend 5 face-to-face events via the blended delivery model. Our nationwide delivery partnership network allows us to bring face-to-face training to a training centre in your region and facilitated by experienced school leaders and facilitators.

Participants access online learning and support via our virtual learning environment (VLE) Canvas. Through Canvas, participants are able to engage with their learning communities of peers and access multimedia content. They can also access research and expert-led school practice aligned to the curriculum content for the qualification and receive high-quality feedback from experienced performance coaches.


Leadership Performance Coach

The leadership performance coach is a participant’s main point of contact for the duration of the NPQH. Their role is to support a participant’s progress and development through the programme. They will respond to practice task activities completed for each online course and provide challenge and feedback on each of the formative assessment tasks. Each participant will receive small group and individual coaching sessions from their leadership performance coach to develop their thinking and support their progress.

In-school Sponsor

The in-school sponsor is someone who the NPQH participant can check in with across the duration of the programme and who can provide relevant professional guidance, support and challenge. The sponsor is not a formalised programme role but a go-to person to talk about the learning and development from the qualification and its application in practice. The sponsor may be a leader from another school/organisation.

NPQH Qualification Structure

National Professional Qualification (NPQ): Headship Framework

The NPQ frameworks are based on a robust method of design and development, building on the evidence base and expert guidance already established in the ECF and the ITT Core Content Framework. The NPQ frameworks reflect the Teachers’ Standards and Headteachers' Standards to ensure coherency with the requirements already used by the teaching profession.

Please see the National Professional Qualification for Headship Framework below. If your computer or device does not support the Adobe plugin you can download the framework pdf here.

Who is this for?

NPQH is suitable for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a head teacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school.

Although some headteachers and principals still teach, the role is primarily a strategic and operational one and relies on working with and through their colleagues (in particular, through the leadership team) to ensure every pupil gets an excellent education.


Applicants must be in a current headteacher, deputy headteacher, vice principal or equivalent role and about 18 months away from applying for Headship (if not already in post).

If do not have QTS or QTLS, you will need to have completed a Level 5 qualification (any subject).

What does it cost?

The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) costs £1,975 plus VAT if applicable.
VAT will not be applied to DfE funded candidates or state-funded schools.


Teachers and leaders employed in state-funded schools as well as those employed in state-funded organisations that offer 16-19 places in England will be able to access fully-funded DfE NPQ scholarships for the Spring 2022 NPQ Intake. The scholarships cover the full cost of the qualification and there is no limit to how many scholarships can be awarded to a single school. Simply apply for NPQH and we will then apply to the DfE for the scholarship on your behalf. 

To view the full range of NPQ scholarships and funding pathways available please visit NPQ Funding 2021

Access to funding remains conditional on successful verification of participants’ registration information against Teaching Regulation Agency records, so you must ensure that the information supplied to your NPQ provider matches your teacher record. You can check and update your record via the Teaching Regulation Agency’ Teacher Self-Service Portal.

PLEASE NOTE: the DfE will only fund an NPQ course for a participant once. This means that a participant who starts a course, and then withdraws or fails, will not be funded again for the same course. (NB: the DfE will fund participants for different NPQs if they meet the eligibility criteria).

The above does not apply to legacy NPQs, and any participant who has previously received NPQ funding for the 2017 suite of NPQs will be eligible for funding for the 2021 suite of NPQs (if they meet the eligibility criteria).

Headteacher Apprenticeship with NPQH

The Headteacher Apprenticeship with NPQH offers a funded route to NPQH along with extended leadership training and additional support. Funding comes by way of the Apprenticeship Levy or Co-Investment. Please visit or contact us for more information.

Additional support offer

There is an Additional Support Offer which is fully funded for new headteachers undertaking NPQH within their first two years of headship. It is also available to headteachers who have previously completed NPQH and are within their first two years of headship. 

Full information on this offer can be found at: 

Headteachers Apprenticeship with NPQH

Stand out from the crowd and complete NPQH whilst simultaneously working towards the Level 7 Senior Leader Standard - a cross-sector leadership qualification which is the perfect accompaniment to the NPQH.

The Headteachers Apprenticeship with NPQH is funded by the Apprenticeship Levy or government co-investment and comes with a whole raft of extra support, resources and content compared with completing a standalone NPQ.

Participants receive added support in the form of monthly meetings with a dedicated Apprenticeship Tutor. Our Apprenticeship Tutors are themselves experienced school leaders and headteachers and are able to offer invaluable assistance and advice for the duration of the programme.

One Programme, Two Qualifications

Graduates of the Leaders Apprenticeships are awarded two qualifications which are completed at the same time and within the same 18 month period as the standalone NPQH.  As well as benefitting from the full NPQH content and delivery, participants receive extended leadership training, webinars and monthly meetings with an Apprenticeship Tutor to ensure they meet the requirements of the Level 7 Senior Leader Standard.

Compared to the standalone NPQH, there are approximately 80 additional learning hours spread out over the 18 month duration of the programme.

National Professional Qualification for Headship
Professional registration links: NPQH

Level 7 Senior Leader Standard

Professional registration links: Chartered Manager (CMgr MCMI) or Chartered Fellow (CMgr FCMI), The Institute of Leadership and Management


Next Steps

Applications are now closed for the Spring 2022 NPQ Intake. If you would like to join the Autumn 2022 NPQ Intake please register your interest.