National Professional Qualification
NPQ applications for Spring 2021 are now closed.
If you would like to express an interest in joining our Autumn 2021 intake, please click the 'Express Interest' button and complete the short form.
The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is for those who are or are aspiring to become, a Headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school. This includes those with cross-school responsibilities such as a National Leader of Education (NLE).
The qualification covers 6 content areas that set out what a leader should know or should be able to do and 7 leadership behaviours which set out how the best leaders operate. The content areas have been embedded within 3 online courses, with the leadership behaviours explored during the face-to-face events.
Groups are hosted by our national network of trust and teaching school partners and finalised following the registration deadline. You can view a map of our previous group locations to find where your nearest group is likely to be.
NPQH is recognised as a contribution towards entry onto a full Masters programme. Find out more about the credit exemptions available here.
Who is this for?
NPQH is suitable for those who have recently been made headteachers or who are highly motivated to become headteachers, and no more than 18 months from applying for headship.
In order to be accepted onto NPQH, prospective candidates must first pass our gateway assessment process. Gateway assessment has been designed to ensure the readiness and suitability of applicants to undertake the qualification and embark upon headship.
You can view our programme metrics here.
NPQH - A graduate interview
NPQH - An introduction
What are the benefits?
Benefits for candidates
- Focus on and develop the key skills needed for headship
- Internationally recognised, high standard 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 vision and improve standards
- Increased capability and capacity to take onwhole-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 for young people and staff within the organisation
The qualification covers 6 content areas which set out what a leader should know or should be able to do and 7 leadership behaviours which set out how the best leaders operate. The content areas have been embedded within 3 online courses, with the leadership behaviours explored during the face-to-face events.
Each day is facilitated by two experienced facilitators and supported by a serving Headteacher.
|Event 1: Induction||• Qualification outcomes, process and schedule
• Supporting your leadership learning
• Effective leadership learning and development
• Leading change for improvement: In-school leadership practice
• Avenues of support for your leadership learning and development journey
|Event 2: Strategy & Improvement||• Strategy & Improvement: Getting the foundation right
• Check-in on leadership learning & practice
• Self-managed task: Future direction and strategic development
• Presentation to ‘the governing board’
• Modelling characteristics of team effectiveness
|Event 3: Teaching & Curriculum Excellence||• School leader perspective: Vision & reality
• Check-in on leadership learning & practice
• Presenting my vision for teaching, learning and curriculum excellence
• Self-managed task: Leading vision to reality
• How leaders improve & demonstrate improvement
|Event 4: Managing Resources & Risk
||• School Leader perspective: Ensuring school and staff accountability
• Check-in on leadership learning & practice
• Managing performance
• Financial management: Effective & efficient resourced teachers
• Personal reflection and plenary
|Event 5: Readiness
||• School Leader perspective: What successful leadership looks like
• Successful leader presentations
• Powerful learning conversations
• Assessment criteria in practice
• Assessment: Supporting successful submission
Online Course Content
|Strategy & Improvement||Teaching & Curriculum Excellence||Managing Resources & Risk|
|Module 1||Context for change & strategic development||Context for change - teaching & learning reality||Financial efficiency & effectiveness|
|Module 2||Creating the vision & strategic improvement environment||Creating the learning culture for effective teaching and learning and curriculum opportunity||Accountability & governance
School-led partnership and impact
|Module 3||Establishing credible relationships & effective collaboration||Growing talent and quality momentum||Staffing recruitment, retention and performance|
|Module 4||Transforming the culture for improvement & impact||Transforming lives and opportunities for improvement and impact||Transforming schools through school-led
partnership and impact
Guideline Study Hours Breakdown
|360 leadership diagnostic||3|
|Peer challenge groups||N/A|
Candidates must lead a change programme at whole-school level lasting at least two terms and aiming to improve pupil progress and attainment. Candidates must present the plan to the Governing Board prior to implementation and gather their feedback. A written account of the project covering the design, implementation and evaluation must then be submitted for assessment.
Candidates are required to research a placement school’s current and/or projected resource and capability challenges and design an action plan to address these. The placement must be undertaken in a contrasting school to their home school (for example, by performance, pupil profile, geography etc.) and last at least nine working days. These can be spread across a number of weeks at the candidate’s discretion. Candidates must present the plan to their placement school’s governing board and gather their feedback. A written account of the project must then be submitted for assessment.
Project scripts and supporting evidence are assessed in accordance with a mark scheme provided by the DfE and are subject to national moderation.
In order to achieve NPQH candidates must:
- complete 3 online courses and associated core tasks
- engage with practice-based events
- pass final assessment within 15 months of starting the qualification
NPQH Spring 2021 event dates and online course facilitation windows.
|Engagement window||Programme element|
|Today – 05/02/2021||
NPQ Course Preparation and Welcome Pack Release
(Official start of Engagement with Preparation Activities)
|01/02/2021 – 05/02/2021||
Canvas Welcome Message and Login Details Release
[Start of Induction Stage]
08/02/2021 - 12/02/202101/03/2021 - 05/03/2021
NPQH Face-to-face Event 1 (or Distance Learner Equivalent Activity)
[Start of Development Stage]
|08/03/2021 – 02/04/2021||
Strategy and Improvement (S&I) Online Course Facilitation Window
(20 hours engagement over 4 weeks)
|26/04/2021 – 07/05/2021||
NPQH Face-to-face Event 2 (or Distance Learner Equivalent Activity)
|14/06/2021 - 09/07/2021||
Teaching and Curriculum Excellence (T&CE) Online Course Facilitation Window
|06/09/2021 – 17/09/2021||
NPQH Face-to-face Event 3 (or Distance Learner Equivalent Activity)
|20/09/2021 – 15/10/2021||
Managing Resources and Risks (MR&R) Online Course Facilitation Window
(20 hours engagement over 4 weeks)
18/10/2021 – 22/10/202101/11/2021 – 05/11/2021
NPQH Face-to-face Event 4 (or Distance Learner Equivalent Activity)
|29/11/2021 – 10/12/2021||
NPQH Face-to-face Event 5 (or Distance Learner Equivalent Activity)
[Start of Final Assessment Stage]
How is it delivered?
Candidates will usually complete the qualification within 12-18 months and benefit from our following learning models:
Our blended learning model
- five face-to-face training events
- three online courses working alongside peers
- 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 100 credits to contribute towards an MA in Educational Leadership with Chester University
The Online Elements of NPQH:
What does it cost?
|School Type||Fee payable|
|All state-maintained schools, academies and independent schools in the UK||
How to apply
NPQ applications for Spring 2021 are now closed. If you'd like to express an interest in joining our Autumn 2021 intake, please click the 'Express Interest' button in the right-hand column and complete the short form.
You will be asked to upload the following as part of your registration:
It will save time if you have this before you start your online registration.
DfE Scholarship Funding
Candidates from schools that sit within a Category 5 or Category 6 area are eligible for fully funded DfE scholarships. Candidates from schools within MATs or dioceses where at least one school sits within a Category 5 or Category 6 area are also eligible. Contact us with the name and address of your school and we will be glad to look up the Category of your school.
The DfE has put no limit on how many scholarships can be claimed per school. However, we encourage schools to ensure they have sufficient capacity to provide each colleague with a school-based mentor, a suitable school improvement project they could individually lead on, and ensure they have the capacity to support colleagues being out of school for the face-to-face events.
If you are eligible for a scholarship simply enter "Fully funded by scholarship/government funding"in the invoicing section of the application portal (as per the below image). Our back-office team will then apply to the DfE for your scholarship. In this instance, the rest of this section can be left blank.
No. If you work in a school which is in a Category 5 or Category 6 area neither you nor your school will be invoiced. Once your application has been accepted we will immediately apply to the DfE for the scholarship.
DfE funding for the National Professional Qualifications is available to leaders or aspiring leaders in schools located in Category 5 and Category 6 areas. These are areas with persistent underperformance, where not enough children have access to a high-quality school place and where there is insufficient capacity to drive improvement.
This is part of an ongoing initiative by the DfE to strive for excellence in deprived areas of England. You can find out more information about how these areas were determined in this DfE publication.
In the unlikely event that funding runs out we will contact candidates and schools and give them the choice of withdrawing without incurring any costs or paying for the programme themselves.
Groups & Locations
We will always endeavour to let you know of your group arrangements and course schedule no longer than 2 weeks after the recruitment window has closed. However, if recruitment demands are high and/or the application window is extended (which you’d be made aware of), the date of this course arrangements’ announcement is subject to change.
Candidates who feel their group allocations are not sufficiently convenient are free to change group or withdraw from the course at no expense to themselves. We also have a distance learning model that allows candidates to complete the qualifications by attending webinars and taking part in online discussions instead of the face-to-face events (see Distance Learning Model below).
Distance Learning Model
The Distance Learning Groups engage with additional online activities and briefings in lieu of attending face-to-face events. Overseas candidates are grouped according to time zones to meet each learner’s scheduling needs. The online replication of each training event involves:
- 1 hour online briefing covering the key learning and introducing the supporting activities
- 2 weeks of online activity - Completing a selection of activities covering key themes and ideas of the face-to-face events
The web conferences and online discussion activities will typically fall 1 or 2 weeks after each training event has been held. As such, you will virtually be on the same schedule to complete the course.
Your time-frames for final assessment would remain unchanged at 18 months and you would still be expected to engage with, and complete, the three essential online courses alongside other candidates.
NPQML & NPQSL: You will need support from, and access to, a school setting, as a key requirement to be offered a place in the qualification. Furthermore, as part of your NPQML/SL qualification, you are required to work closely with an in-school mentor. Your mentor will be critical in providing support, advice and feedback as you work on your school improvement project. All candidate applications must be supported through the completion of a Headteacher Declaration, this declaration must be signed by your Headteacher and confirms that they support your place on the training and will provide the necessary time and support needed to successfully complete the qualification.
NPQH & NPQEL: You will need to be supported by a sponsor who will be closely involved in supporting your application to join the qualification, your subsequent development and in the final assessment process. This should be someone with a detailed and thorough professional knowledge of your work and professional characteristics as well as the demands of headship, the associated leadership behaviours and the requirements of the content areas. For example, your existing Headteacher (NPQH), Executive Head, School Improvement Partner, or the Chair of your accounting body.
We at the Outstanding Leaders Partnership pride ourselves on the support we offer our candidates. For the entirety of your leadership journey you will be supported by the following members of the team:
|Title||Purpose of role|
|Facilitator||To facilitate face-to-face training events,
which consolidate the learning undertaken online and during in-school activity.
|Online Tutor||To support you through your online learning
experience; ensuring you are active and engaged in the programme.
|Coach (NPQH and EL)||To provide expert coaching to participants
throughout their qualification.
|Mentor||To provide support, guidance as well as
challenge you, ensuring you have the capacity to complete your qualification.
|Assessor||Undertake an assessment of the final written
submission and supporting evidence.
|Candidate and Partner Support (CAPS) Team||All logistical support queries (events, resources, groups, dates etc.) should be directed to the Candidate and Partner Support (CAPS) Team at Best Practice Network (firstname.lastname@example.org).|
Our NPQs are delivered through a blended learning model consisting of a combination of face-to-face events, online courses & briefings and, for NPQH and NPQEL candidates, individual performance coaching. A detailed breakdown of the guided learning hours candidates can expect can be found in our soon to be published qualification specifications, but overall candidates will receive the following:
|Qualification||Guided learning hours|
An NPQ certificate branded by the DfE*
*if you do not have a valid TRN you will still receive an NPQ certificate but not branded by the DfE.