Headship national professional qualification

A course to help school leaders and head teachers develop the knowledge behind expert school leadership and apply it to become an outstanding headteacher.

Applies to England

Who this course is for

This course is for school leaders who are, or want to be a:

  • headteacher or head of school


This 18-month course will help you gain confidence and develop skills in:

  • curriculum and assessment
  • behaviour
  • professional development
  • governance and accountability
  • implementing school improvements

This course will:

  • take 18 months to complete
  • involve an average of 1 to 2 hours of study each week
  • be a mix of self-study and group sessions
  • have a written assessment
  • start October 2023


Funding to cover the course fees is available for most teachers and school leaders in state funded settings in England.

Learn about funding.

Course content

This course covers themes including:

  • school culture
  • effective teaching
  • supporting curriculum and assessment development
  • establishing and sustaining a positive, predictable and safe environment for pupils additional and special educational needs professional development organisational management

You’ll also learn about:

  • implementation strategies
  • working in partnership with parents and carers
  • governance and accountability

Benefits for you and your school

Deliver meaningful change in your school

You’ll be equipped with school-focused leadership knowledge, which you can use to establish the culture and conditions where staff and pupils can thrive.

You’ll be encouraged to apply and translate what you’ve learned to your own school context. Your training provider will give you models and examples that’ll help you translate theory into practical skills you can use in your school’s setting.

Flexible training

This programme is designed to be flexible to fit with your busy working role. Training is delivered in bite-sized chunks, and you can learn at a time and pace that suits you.

Access the latest research

Benefit from the latest evidence-based learning and approaches to great teaching and leadership.

Individualised training

You’ll be able to focus on specific areas of leadership where you want to improve your knowledge. This will help you make evidence-informed decisions and action positive change.

Learning backed by evidence

You’ll be introduced to evidence-informed practices. This will enable you to develop strategies to improve teaching and pupil performance at your school.

Course structure

The course covers 10 topics, outlined in the course framework. Providers use this framework to design their course.

The course includes:

  • independent study
  • group coaching
  • face-to-face sessions with other participants

You’ll need to spend 1 to 2 hours a week working on this NPQ.


You can train with one of the following providers:

They work with delivery partners, such as teaching school hubs, to provide training.


To get your NPQ accreditation you’ll need to complete the course and pass a written assessment (between 1,500 and 2,500 words).


Before you apply to your chosen training provider, you need to register with the Department for Education.

Learn how to apply for an NPQ.

Published 20 September 2023