facebook icon   twitter

01392 304040

A+ A A-


The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is accredited by the Department for Education (DfE). The qualification is delivered by the Outstanding Leaders Partnership (OLP), a collaborative partnership of schools, teaching school alliances and multi-academy trusts, managed and supported by Best Practice Network. NPQH focuses on the key skills needed for headship and meets the highest standards for leadership development anywhere in the world.

Entry Requirements

NPQH is for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a Headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school. This includes those with cross-school responsibilities such as a National Leader of Education (NLE). In order to be accepted onto NPQH, prospective candidates must first pass our gateway assessment process. Gateway assessment has been designed to ensure the readiness and suitability of applicants to undertake the qualification and embark upon headship.

Benefits for candidates

Time to reflect on leadership practice and to network with
a wide range of school leaders

Increased awareness and understanding of self and of the
behaviours needed to lead a school

Increased confidence to drive vision and improve standards

Increased capability and capacity to take on whole-school
responsibility and a strengthened ability to hold others to


Benefits for schools

Support the succession of school leaders and build cohesive,
impact-focused school leadership team

The ability to delegate responsibility effectively empowering
to lead on whole-school improvement

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 for young people and staff
within the organisation


Qualification Components and Content

A Flexible Way to Learn

Our programmes offer a blended approach that mixes online learning through our award-winning virtual learning environment and face-to-face learning through our national network of school based providers. Each candidate gets access to a dedicated learning coach, mentor or tutor, as well as regular opportunities to network and collaborate with their course colleagues. 

See how the qualification components will be distributed across the 12-18 months with our qualification schedule.

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.


Task 1

Candidates must lead a change programme at whole-school level lasting at least two terms and aiming to improve pupil progress and attainment. Candidates must present the plan to the Governing Board prior to implementation and gather their feedback. A written account of the project covering the design, implementation and evaluation must then be submitted for assessment.

Task 2

Candidates are required to research a placement school’s current and/or projected resource and capability challenges and design an action plan to address these. The placement must be undertaken in a contrasting school to their home school (for example, by performance, pupil profile, geography etc.) and last at least nine working days. These can be spread across a number of weeks at the candidate’s discretion. Candidates must present the plan to their placement school’s governing board and gather their feedback. A written account of the project 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.

What's next?

Candidates who successfully complete NPQH may choose to continue their professional development through the completion of a master’s degree in educational leadership or by continuing onto the National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL). Professionally, NPQH graduates may choose to apply for a Headship or system leadership roles such as National Leader of Education (NLE) or Teaching School Director.

Masters Accreditation

The qualification has been developed in collaboration with Chester University to be delivered at Masters Level 7. Candidates successful in achieving the qualification have the opportunity to accrue credits towards an MA in Educational Leadership with Chester University.

Distance Learning

Candidates for whom time away from school or access to local delivery is not available have the opportunity to complete the qualification via a distance learning model. With distance learning, the five event days are each delivered flexibly over the course of two weeks through a combination of online briefings and candidate activity.