National Professional Qualification
for Senior Leadership

Apply by 18 December to join our spring 2021 intake. Get the latest NPQ scholarship news here

The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) provides recognition of leadership development and professional achievement for senior school leaders.

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.

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.

NPQSL 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?

NPQSL is suitable for senior leaders with cross-school responsibilities, for example, an experienced middle leader, a deputy head, a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), an advanced skills teacher or a senior member of staff.

You can view our programme metrics here.

What are the benefits?

  • Facilitation and support from serving school leaders in outstanding schools
  • Purpose-built virtual learning environment enabled for mobiles and tablets
  • Delivery at local venues
  • Guaranteed support to pass the final assessment
  • Content contextualised for your locality and updated to reflect national developments and legislation
  • Regular progress updates for mentors and headteachers

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 experienced serving school leaders.

Event 1: Strategy &
• Outcomes of the 360° diagnostic: Where am I now and where do I want to be?
• School improvement project planning
• Analysing school data and identifying strategies for improvement
• Establishing a vision and strategy in partnership
• Making change happen to improve the culture
Event 2: Teaching
& Curriculum Excellence
• Checking in on leadership learning and practice
• Establishing criteria for teaching and learning and communicating with others
• Evidencing the impact of teaching, learning and curriculum, and identifying strategies to reduce variation and improve
• Maximising the quality of teaching through the effective deployment and development of teachers and teaching
• Reflecting on learning and its application in your context
Event 3: Managing
Resources & Risk
• Team effectiveness: Motivating and influencing across the school
• Establishing partnerships that build capacity and improve performance
• Analysing leadership and management performance improvement strategies
• Exploiting opportunities to develop and grow the school curriculum
• Analysing value for money and designing a business case for improvement

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

Component NPQSL
360 leadership diagnostic 2
Face-to-face events 18
Online courses 60
Online briefings 4
Performance coaching N/A
Exec/Head-led webinars N/A
Peer challenge groups N/A


Leading an improvement project (5,000 words)
Candidates must lead an improvement project across their school, lasting at least two terms, to a) reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment and b) improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching. A written account of the project covering the design, implementation and evaluation 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 NPQSL 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

NPQSL Spring 2021 event dates and online course facilitation windows will be shared here once confirmed. 

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

  • three face-to-face training events
  • three guided online courses working alongside peers
  • regular online conferences to support and complement learning
  • access to two 360° leadership skills diagnostics
  • support from a nominated in-school mentor
  • facilitation from serving school leaders in outstanding schools
  • local and flexible access to high-quality leadership training
  • dedicated online tutor to support school improvement project planning
  • mobile-enabled virtual learning environment enabling flexible access to course resources and support community
  • option to accrue 40 credits to contribute towards an MA in Educational Leadership with Chester University

The Online Elements of NPQSL:

What does it cost?

School Type Fee payable
All state-maintained schools, academies and independent schools in the UK £1,350
International schools Click here

Various funding routes available.

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.

DfE Scholarship Funding

Groups & Locations

Distance Learning Model

Eligibility Requirements