National Professional Qualification
for Senior Leadership (NPQSL)

For school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities.

Learn the Key Concepts Underpinning Successful Senior Leadership

Awards up to 40 Master's Credits

Develop a Culture in Which Staff and Pupils Are Able to Thrive

Apply Now for Spring 2024

National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL)

The NPQSL is a DfE-accredited qualification. The content and processes used within the programme are subject to robust external quality assurance so that schools and participants can have confidence that the areas studied have direct relevance to their current needs.

Benefits for Participants

      • Facilitation and support from serving school leaders in outstanding schools
      • Purpose-built virtual learning environment enabled for mobiles and tablets
      • Delivery at local venues
      • Support to pass the final assessment
      • Content contextualised for your locality and updated to reflect national developments and legislation
      • Assessment tasks that involve professional enquiry into relevant aspects of your school’s current practices
      • Choose what to study. Our regular needs analyses support participants to focus their energies on those aspects of their leadership they most wish to develop.
      • Flexible delivery arrangements according to needs and circumstances e.g. provision for staff who work part-time.
      • The NPQSL 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 Schools

      • A leader who is able to make a positive contribution to a wide  range of whole school  activities
      • A leader equipped with essential knowledge and understanding of what we are learning about effective practice in both operational and strategic leadership and management at a whole school level
      • A leader with the skills necessary to successfully implement sustainable changes intended to secure improved pupil outcomes
      • A leader who recognises the importance of having a secure evidence-base to underpin their strategic decision-taking and is familiar with the science of learning
      • A leader who shares common understandings and a shared professional language with other leaders in your school – the ‘golden thread’ of professional development

How is NPQSL delivered?

A Blended Learning Model

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

NPQSL participants will attend 4 face-to-face events via the blended delivery model. Our nationwide delivery partnership network allows us to bring face-to-face training to a school near you, facilitated by local school leaders.

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


Leadership Performance Coach

The leadership performance coach is a participant’s main point of contact for the duration of the NPQSL. 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 NPQSL 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 their learning and development from the qualification and its application in practice. The sponsor may be a leader from another school/organisation.

NPQSL Delivery Structure

NPQSL 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 NPQSL Framework below. If your computer or device does not support the Adobe plugin you can download the framework pdf here.

Who is this for?

The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) is for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities.

Although the role varies, many senior leaders contribute to all aspects of the school through the leadership team as well as having a specific whole school responsibility of their own. This means the role is often both operational and strategic and relies on working with and through colleagues (in particular, through middle leaders) to ensure every pupil gets an excellent education.


Applicants must have full support from their school/organisation. A head teacher, member of the SLT, line manager or Chair of Governors (or similar authoritative role) must confirm their support and that all information submitted is true and correct. This is a Department for Education mandatory requirement.

To apply for NPQSL, applicants must have the following:

  • Teacher reference number
  • 2 years teaching experience
  • Leadership aspiration/experience

If you are unsure if you meet the above requirements or have other relevant experience then please contact our team who will be able to support your application.

What does it cost?

The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) costs £1,135 plus VAT if applicable.
VAT will not be applied to DfE funded candidates or state-funded schools.

Candidates from international schools should visit our NPQSL International page for international prices.


Scholarships have been confirmed for the Autumn NPQ intake as part of the government’s long-term education recovery plan.

From autumn 2022,  organisations eligible to access scholarships include:

  • state-funded schools
  • state-funded 16 to 19 organisations
  • independent special schools
  • virtual schools (local authority run organisations that support the education of children in care)
  • hospital schools not already included in other categories of eligible organisations
  • young offender institutions

Local authority employed supply teachers will also be able to access scholarships.

Targeted Support Funding

State-funded schools and state-funded 16 to 19 educational settings with 1 to 600 pupils will be paid £200 for each teacher or leader they employ who takes an NPQ.

This is to help teachers and leaders in smaller settings who may find it harder to engage with professional development.

This funding will apply to state-funded schools and 16 to 19 educational settings in England that have between 1 and 600 pupils. It will be paid for each NPQ participant in these eligible settings.

Funding is not available for participants taking the early headship coaching offer unless they are also taking another NPQ course.

If you work in a school you can search the Get Information About Schools (GIAS) database to check how many pupils are recorded for your school.

If you work in a 16 to 19 education setting you can check a list of 16 to 19 organisations eligible for targeted support funding in the academic year 2022 to 2023.

Payments will be grant funded in arrears via existing Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) channels the summer after NPQ participants begin their course. Eligibility for targeted support funding will be determined automatically as participants complete the registration process and there is no need to apply for this funding separately.

Contact with any questions.