National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)

Develop the skills, knowledge and confidence you need to become a highly effective headteacher.

Who can apply

You should be highly motivated to be a headteacher. You’ll be no more than 12 to 18 months from applying for headship posts and ready to take up a headship as soon as you graduate.

You should also have the full support and endorsement of a sponsor. Usually, this will be your headteacher or line manager.


The application round for NPQH intake 7 will open at 10am on Monday 6 April 2015 and will close at 1pm on Friday 22 May 2015.

Details on how to apply will be published here when the round is open.

Activity for intake 7 Date
Application round opens 10am, 6 April 2015
Application round closes 1pm, 22 May 2015
Notification of stage 1 outcome 27 July 2015
Stage 2 assessments 14 September to 30 October 2015
Notification of stage 2 outcome 23 November 2015
Successful applicants select licensee 23 November 2015 to 18 December 2015
Approximate start date January 2016

If you applied for intake 6, the following timeline will apply:

Activity for intake 6 Date
Notification of stage 1 outcome 30 March 2015
Stage 2 assessment 21 April to 12 June 2015
Notification of stage 2 outcome 22 June 2015
Choose licensee 22 June 2015 to 10 July 2015
Begin NPQH September or October 2015

What’s involved

The duration of study is 6 to 18 months. During this time you’ll:

  • undertake a placement at a school, in a different context from your own, for a minimum of 9 days
  • complete 3 essential modules and 2 further study modules of your choice
  • undertake a final assessment

You can control the pace and focus of your study by completing the work in a timeframe that suits you, and by choosing modules that interest you.

Essential modules

You must complete the following 3 modules.

Leading and improving teaching

Learn how to develop, improve and sustain high-quality teaching across your school. As part of this module, you’ll learn about:

  • effective teaching and the head’s role and responsibilities in leading and improving teaching
  • the Ofsted inspection framework
  • holding all staff to account for performance
  • high standards of behaviour
  • classroom management in relation to high-quality teaching and positive behaviour
  • monitoring, evaluating and improving teaching
  • teacher appraisal, including how to improve teacher performance and address underperformance
  • how to work with pupils and parents to improve pupil attainment

Leading an effective school

Learn about the key management systems required in an effective school, particularly teacher performance, pupil behaviour and financial management. As part of this module, you’ll learn about:

  • the main management processes (including behaviour, personnel and financial management)
  • governing body and headship accountabilities
  • managing performance, professional development and sustained school improvement
  • managing misconduct and grievance
  • behaviour management
  • strategic financial planning and operational budget management
  • HR law, including pay and conditions, and employee rights
  • health and safety in schools
  • child protection

Succeeding in headship

Learn about the essential legal and accountability components of headship and governance with a focus on how successful heads operate in practice. As part of this module, you’ll learn about:

  • the non-teaching aspects of the Ofsted framework
  • how to establish yourself as a headteacher, including building trust and credibility with governors, staff and parents
  • how to manage your time and maintain resilience
  • effective leadership in high-performing international systems
  • main management tools, including operational and strategic planning
  • implementing change effectively

Further study modules

You need to complete 2 of the following modules as well.

  • Closing the gap
  • Curriculum development
  • Freedoms and constraints
  • Leading change for improvement
  • Leading inclusion: Achievement for All
  • Leading staff and effective teams
  • Relationships and reputation
  • School improvement through effective partnerships
  • Using data and evidence to improve performance

Find out more about what you’ll cover in these study modules.

Final assessment

The final assessment comprises 3 tasks: 1 in your school, 1 in your placement school and a presentation/interview assessment. Through this process, you’ll need to show:

  • how you have led the school improvement work in your own and other school settings
  • your ability to present and perform at interview

Costs and scholarships

Costs vary between licensees.

You should contact a licensee to get full details of their costs, but, as a guide, the cost of NPQH is £2,557.

You’ll also need to pay £1,500 for your final assessment if you apply from:

  • an independent or non-maintained school
  • a school outside England

Many of our licensees offer group discounts and various packages – contact your chosen licensee to find out more.

Scholarships are available for applicants from the English state-maintained sector. Find out more about scholarships.

Study exemptions

You may be exempt from some study modules if you’ve undertaken a Master’s or another type of postgraduate course. Find out more about exemptions.

Convert your study to credits for a Master’s degree

You can use your NPQH qualification to contribute towards a Master’s degree. Read our Master’s-level accreditation guidance.


For more information, contact a licensee in your area.