National Professional Qualification
for Headship - International

Our NPQ application window for Autumn 2020 is now closed.

We are now accepting NPQ applications for our Spring 2021 intake.

The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is accredited by the UK Department for Education (DfE). The qualification is delivered by Best Practice Network, a provider of UK accredited qualifications for education professionals worldwide.

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).

We were recently rated ‘Exceptional’ by the DfE’s quality assurance agent and voted ‘Company of the Year’ at the BETT Awards. We are the market leader, and to date have supported over 500 candidates from 60+ countries to access and complete an NPQ.

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.

Applicants must:

  • be employed in a school setting outside of the UK
  • have the support of your Principal

NPQH is taught and assessed in English and therefore requires all participants to be proficient in the use of the English language.

You can view our programme metrics here.

Benefits for candidates

    • Improved outcomes for pupils in candidate areas of responsibility
    • Transferable qualification for leaders relocating to UK schools
    • Contextualised to the needs of the international schools workforce and underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
    • Masters credits towards an MA in Educational Leadership

Benefits for schools

    • Staff retention and succession
    • Evidence-based sustainable school improvement undertaken to improve pupil progress and team capability
    • A professionally aware and informed leader who can make evidence-based decisions and approach new challenges in an effective and efficient manner

Programme outline

Qualification Schedule

Qualification Content

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.

Event Content

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

*Content has been contextualised to the needs of the international schools workforce and underpinned by robust evidence and expertise


Task 1
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.

Task 2
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 18 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)
[Start of Preparation Stage]

01/02/2021 – 05/02/2021

Canvas Welcome Message and Login Details Release

[Start of Induction Stage]

08/02/2021 - 12/02/2021

01/03/2021 - 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
(20 hours engagement over 4 weeks)

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 – 22/10/2021

01/11/2021 – 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?

We offer international colleagues the choice of two learning pathways:

Face-to-face – Delivered through face-to-face events and facilitated online courses. Events are hosted by our growing network of international partner schools and facilitated by serving school leaders.

Online-only – Delivered through webinars, study packs and facilitated online courses. Candidates are supported by a dedicated online tutor.

Candidates will usually complete the qualification within 12-18 months dependent upon the school improvement project they elect to undertake.

Programme delivery consists of:

  • five training events
  • three guided online courses working alongside peers
  • regular online conferences to support and complement learning
  • two 360° leadership skills diagnostics
  • facilitation from experienced international school leaders
  • dedicated online tutor to support project planning and provide pastoral support
  • option to accrue credits to contribute towards an MA in Educational Leadership

Our blended learning model

Our distance learning model


To date, we have supported over 500 candidates from 60+ countries to access and complete an NPQ.

Regional Partners

We work with a wide range of regional partners to provide school leaders access to local face-to-face training. If you would like to undertake an NPQ face-to-face then you can access delivery in any of the following locations:

  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • England, UK
  • Hong Kong
  • Kiev, Ukraine
  • New York, USA

If your school(s) wish to access NPQs for a group of staff, then please get in touch. We are able to run delivery in-house for your school, work with you as a regional partner to offer the training locally in your area, and we can also offer group rates on course fees.

What does it cost?

Face-to-face international delivery is currently suspended. International candidates can now complete NPQs via our safe and convenient "Facilitated Online International" delivery model which makes use of facilitated online workshops, extra support from personal tutors and supplementary study packs.

Self-funding candidates are offered a 10% discount on the programme fees (see table below). Schools enrolling three or more candidates will be given three months access to the School Suite - fully-accredited online CPD for teachers and support staff. See for more information.

Payment by Instalment

Payment can be made in one lump sum or in 3 equal instalments spread over 6 months with the first instalment to be received just prior to beginning the programme.

Delivery model Programme School fee

Self-funding fee

Facilitated Online International




Face-to-Face International Currently susepended

How to apply

Please complete the online registration form in the right-hand bar to apply for a place.

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.