Guidance

National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL)

Develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours that a high-performing executive leader needs.

These qualifications are changing. For more information, see National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) reforms.

Apply

The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) supports the professional development of aspiring and serving executive headteachers and multi-academy trust (MAT) chief executive officers (CEOs).

Apply with one of the providers accredited to offer this qualification. Contact your preferred provider, or visit their website, to find out more about the qualification.

Providers

The Department for Education accredited providers to design, deliver and assess one or more of the national professional qualifications (NPQs). You can only take an NPQ with an accredited provider.

To ensure that your NPQ is accessible, high quality and nationally consistent, your provider’s programme must meet the requirements of the:

  • NPQ content and assessment framework, which sets out the knowledge and skills that providers must teach as part of each NPQ, and the tasks and criteria against which providers will be required to assess their candidates
  • NPQ quality framework, which sets out the standards of provision that providers must meet to retain their accreditation

Who can apply

You should be, or aspire to be, an executive headteacher or CEO of a MAT with responsibility for leading across several schools.

What’s involved

Study can last between 2 academic terms and 18 months, depending on your provider.

During this time you will:

  • develop knowledge and skills across 6 content areas, which set out what an effective executive leader should know and be able to do
  • have the opportunity to develop up to 7 important leadership behaviours, which set out how an effective leader should operate
  • complete a final assessment that evaluates your capability against the knowledge and skills set out in the 6 content areas

Content areas

The 6 content areas across which you will develop your executive leadership knowledge and skills are:

  • strategy and improvement
  • teaching and curriculum excellence
  • leading with impact
  • working in partnership
  • managing resources and risks
  • increasing capability

Leadership behaviours

The 7 leadership behaviours that you will have the opportunity to develop are:

  • commitment
  • collaboration
  • personal drive
  • resilience
  • awareness
  • integrity
  • respect

Structure and teaching methods

The structure of the NPQEL and teaching methods will vary between providers, but will include:

  • on-the-job leadership training
  • challenge and support – through a coach and/or mentor
  • access to high-quality resources, drawing on up-to-date research and evidence
  • professional development from and with credible peers
  • opportunities for structured reflection

Final assessment

You will:

  • design a sustainable business development strategy for your organisation, analysing the benefits, costs and risks of different options
  • lead a project to improve progress and attainment in several schools

Through these 2 projects, you will need to demonstrate your competence through an assessment linked to the knowledge and skills set out in the 6 content areas.

Costs

Costs vary between providers. You should contact a provider for full details of their costs.

Funding

There has been high demand from teachers and school leaders to access NPQ scholarships in recent months. As a result, access to scholarships for new applicants for NPQs is currently suspended. This is to allow us to fully assess demand against available funding for those who have already applied. We will update this page if we are able to reopen applications for this year’s scholarships at a later date.

If you started your course prior to 24 July 2020, you will receive funding for the full course fee if you continue to meet the eligibility criteria below and have not previously been enrolled on an NPQ course of the same level.

We are now working with providers to understand what funding can be made available for eligible participants who registered for a future course before 24 July 2020. We are doing this as quickly as possible. In the meantime, your chosen NPQ provider is best placed to confirm the position with you in respect of your course, financial arrangements and their specific terms and conditions.

Eligibility for funding required a teacher or school leaders to be working in opportunity areas or areas defined in achieving excellence areas as categories 5 and 6, or employed at a school which is subject to the oversight of a multi-academy trust or diocese which also includes other schools in those areas.

Access to funding remains conditional on successful verification of participants’ registration information against the database of qualified teachers (DQT), so you must ensure that the information supplied to your NPQ provider matches your DQT record. You can check and update your DQT record via the Teaching Regulation Agency.

Published 20 October 2017
Last updated 23 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated the funding section.

  2. Updated to reflect availability of NPQ scholarship funding from 1 April 2020.

  3. Updated to show NPQ funding for the financial year 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 is fully committed.

  4. First published.