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 30 Master's Credits

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

Free to Access for State Funded Schools in England

National Professional Qualification (NPQ): Senior Leadership

NPQSL gives candidates all of the essential knowledge, skills and concepts that underpin successful senior leadership. Participants will cover ‘learn that’ and ‘learn how to’ statements in ten areas:

  • 1 – School Culture
  • 2 – Teaching
  • 3 – Curriculum and Assessment
  • 4 – Behaviour
  • 5 – Additional and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • 6 – Professional Development
  • 7 – Organisational Management
  • 8 – Implementation
  • 9 – Working in Partnership
  • 10 – Governance and Accountability
  • See NPQSL Framework tab for full programme content.

What are the benefits?

The fully blended learning approach combined with performance coaching and enrichment activities make this an exciting and valuable opportunity for current and aspiring senior leaders.

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 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
    • Guaranteed support to pass the final assessment
    • Content contextualised for your locality and updated to reflect national developments and legislation

Benefits for Schools

    • Regular progress updates for mentors and headteachers
    • 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 review and evaluate practice in order to bring about change and get the best outcomes for young people and staff within the organisation 

How is NPQSL delivered?

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 and 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.


NPQSL Delivery Structure

NPQSL Framework

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 be in a middle leader role as a minimum and have completed 2 full years of teaching.

All applicants must have either QTS, QTLS, a Level 5 (or higher) qualification (any subject), or an international equivalent (see below). You must be able to evidence this with a copy of your certificate.

For those with QTS, you can download a copy of your certificate here

For those with QTLS, you can download a copy of your certificate here If for any reason you are unable to provide a copy of your certificate, you will need to ask a representative from the school where you are teaching to contact Capita Teachers' Pensions. Your employer should know how to do this via the Capita employer portal

If do not have QTS or QTLS, you will need evidence completion of a Level 5 qualification (any subject). For International applicants, you will need to apply for a UK ENIC Statement of Comparability to demonstrate your Level 5 qualification is comparable to UK qualifications.

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.


Teachers and leaders employed in state-funded schools as well as those employed in state-funded organisations that offer 16-19 places in England will be able to access fully-funded DfE NPQ scholarships for the Spring 2022 NPQ Intake. The scholarships cover the full cost of the qualification and there is no limit to how many scholarships can be awarded to a single school. Simply apply for NPQSL and we will then apply to the DfE for the scholarship on your behalf. 

To view the full range of NPQ scholarships and funding pathways available please visit NPQ Funding 2021

Access to funding remains conditional on successful verification of participants’ registration information against Teaching Regulation Agency records, so you must ensure that the information supplied to your NPQ provider matches your teacher record. You can check and update your record via the Teaching Regulation Agency’ Teacher Self-Service Portal.


NPQSL is also available to colleagues in England as part of a Leaders Apprenticeship funded by the Apprenticeship Levy or Government Co-invstment. For more information please visit

Leaders Apprenticeship with NPQSL

Stand out from the crowd and complete NPQSL whilst simultaneously working towards the Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager Standard - a cross-sector management qualification which is the perfect accompaniment to the NPQSL.

The Leaders Apprenticeship with NPQSL is funded by the Apprenticeship Levy or government co-investment and comes with a whole raft of extra support, resources and content compared with completing a standalone NPQ.

Participants receive added support in the form of monthly meetings with a dedicated Apprenticeship Tutor. Our Apprenticeship Tutors are themselves experienced school leaders and headteachers and are able to offer invaluable assistance and advice for the duration of the programme.

One Programme, Two Qualifications

Graduates of the Leaders Apprenticeships are awarded two qualifications which are completed at the same time and within the same 18 month period as the standalone NPQSL.  As well as benefitting from the full NPQSL content and delivery, participants receive extended leadership training, webinars and monthly meetings with an Apprenticeship Tutor to ensure they meet the requirements of the Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager Standard. Compared to the standalone NPQSL, there are approximately 78 additional learning hours spread out over the 18 month duration of the programme.

National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership
Professional registration links: NPQSL

Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager Standard

Professional registration links: Member of CMI (MCMI) Foundation Chartered Manager (fCMgr)


Next Steps

If you would like to find out more then please contact our team on 0117 920 9428 or visit our Contact Form.

To join the next intake, please visit the NPQSL Application Portal, and indicate that you will be funding the NPQSL through your school's Apprenticeship Service Account. Our team will then contact you to arrange the funding and complete the enrolment process.