facebook icon   twitter

01392 304040

A+ A A-


The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) 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. 

NPQSL provides recognition of leadership development and professional achievement for senior leaders who are looking for further professional development but not yet aspiring to headship.

Entry Requirements

NPQSL is for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities such as an experienced middle leader, a deputy headteacher, a SEN coordinator, an assistant headteacher, or other senior staff. In order to be accepted onto the qualification candidates must have their application endorsed by their Headteacher via a signed Headteacher declaration that is uploaded as part of the candidate’s application.

Benefits for candidates

Improved outcomes for pupils across the school

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

Time to reflect on leadership practice and ability to check
learning and development needs

 Increased capability and capacity to take on leadership
across a school - having the skills, knowledge and
understanding to do the job more effectively

Benefits for schools

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

Evidence-based sustainable school improvement undertaken
to reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment and to improve teaching

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.


Leading a whole school improvement project (5,000 words)

Candidates must lead an improvement project across their school, lasting at least two terms, to a) reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment and b) improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching. A written account of the project covering the design, implementation and evaluation 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 NPQSL may choose to continue their professional development through the completion of a master’s degree in educational leadership or, if they deem themselves to be within three years of applying for headship roles, by competing the National Professional Qualification for Headship. Professionally, NPQSL graduates may choose to apply for senior leadership or system leadership roles such as Deputy Head, Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) 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 three event days are each delivered flexibly over the course of two weeks through a combination of online briefings and candidate activity.