National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) for UK Schools

Meet your leadership challenges with National Professional Qualifications

Our qualifications are all designed by serving school leaders and subject matter experts to form a coherent learning pathway. The combination of online courses, face-to-face events and enrichment practice activity create a truly blended learning experience.

The qualifications are structured in such a way as to give candidates the option of moving on to the next qualification after completing their first, or simply completing one qualification if preferred. 

Which NPQ is right for me?

Who's it for? Aspiring or current middle leaders leading across a team Aspiring or current senior leaders leading across a school Aspiring or current headteachers leading a school Aspiring or current executive leaders with responsibility across more than one school
Who can apply?
  • Key Stage leader
  • Curriculum leader
  • Subject leader
  • Head of Department
  • Any similar leadership role
  • Deputy Headteacher
  • SEN Coordinator
  • Assistant Headteacher
  • Any similar leadership role
  • NLE
  • Deputy Headteacher
  • Assistant Headteacher
  • Headteacher
  • Any similar leadership role
  • Headteachers
  • Executive Headteachers
  • School Improvement Directors
  • Any similar leadership role
Intakes Autumn & Spring Autumn & Spring Autumn & Spring Autumn & Spring
Duration 12–15 months 12–15 months 12–15 months 12–15 months
DfE funding available ✓ * ✓ * ✓ * ✓ *
DfE accredited
No. of face-to-face days 3 3 5 6 incl two 2-day residentials
No. of online courses 3 3 3 3
Personal online tutor
Guided learning hours 84 84 106 115
Assessment School improvement project across a team - see examples School improvement project across whole school - see examples Two school improvement projects in own school and placement school - see examples Design improvement strategy for own school and lead a project to improve progress and attainment across several schools - see examples
Master's credits Up to 40** Up to 60** Up to 100** Up to 60**

* applicable for schools in category 5 & 6 areas and MATs or Dioceses with 1 school in category 5 or 6 area

** number of credits awarded is at the discretion of universities

Why take an NPQ?

NPQs can have a measurable impact on schools and pupils. 

As part of their final assessment, NPQ candidates complete a School Improvement Project. These projects have a real and lasting impact on pupils, schools and colleagues. Take a look at our School Improvement Library and see how completing an NPQ will impact on you and those around you.

NPQs are suitable for school leaders at each stage of their career, starting with Middle Leadership and progressing to Senior Leadership, Headship and Executive Leadership. Benefits for schools include: 

  • Increased workforce capacity, capability and confidence 
  • Staff retention and succession 
  • Research-based improvement activity addressing priority needs 

Why choose OLP?

The Outstanding Leaders Partnership is a national, school-led partnership recently rated as ‘exceptional’ by the DfE Quality Assurance Agent.

The quality review was based on the DfE National Professional Qualification (NPQ) Quality Framework.  The reviewers examined leadership and governance, face-to-face delivery, online courses, candidate, facilitator and tutor support, assessment, organisation, quality control, marketing and recruitment, as well as the DfE metrics and impact. The reviewers identified exceptional performance in most areas of the Quality Framework. 

Read the full summary of our DfE Quality Review results here.

"I got the headship! The course was absolutely instrumental in my success at interview – I felt so confident because of my reading and the work we’ve done on the face-to-face days and projects. Thank you for your support and encouragement – it really helped.”"
Gaynor Jones NPQH candidate

Take a Qualification

Our National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) programme is flexible and modular to enable candidates to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence required to lead high-performing teams and improve classroom practice.
Find out more
The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) provides recognition of leadership development and professional achievement for senior school leaders.
Find out more
The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is the first choice qualification for anyone aspiring to be a headteacher.
Find out more
The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) provides an opportunity for headteachers taking the next step to executive leadership with responsibility for more than one school.
Find out more

Watch the video below to learn more about Outstanding Leaders Partnership and hear how our qualifications have impacted the careers of teachers and the attainment of pupils.