National Professional Qualification
for Executive Leadership (NPQEL)

Applications are now closed for the Spring 2022 NPQ Intake. If you would like to join the Autumn 2022 NPQ Intake please register your interest.

National Professional Qualification (NPQ): Executive Leadership

NPQEL gives participants all of the essential knowledge, skills and concepts that underpin successful executive leadership.  Participants will cover ‘learn that’ and ‘learn how to’ statements in ten areas:

  • 1 – School Culture
  • 2 – Teaching
  • 3 – Curriculum and Assessment
  • 4 – Behaviour
  • 5 – Additional and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • 6 – Professional Development
  • 7 – Organisational Management
  • 8 – Implementation
  • 9 – Working in Partnership
  • 10 – Governance and Accountability
  • See the NPQEL Framework tab for full programme content

What are the benefits?

The fully blended learning approach combined with performance  coaching and enrichment activities make this an exciting and valuable opportunity for current and aspiring executive leaders.

The NPQEL qualification is worth 60 Master's credits and can act as a springboard onto Liverpool Hope University’s MA in Leading in Education or the MBA in Educational Leadership.


Benefits for Participants

    • National and international networking
    • Increased awareness and understanding of self and of the behaviours needed to lead across multiple organisations
    • Opportunity to reflect on relevant research and pedagogy and leadership practice
    • Access to high-quality feedback and ongoing interaction with qualified performance coaches
    • Increased capability and capacity to take on a multi-school organisation - having the skills, knowledge and understanding to do the job more effectively

Benefits for schools

      • Increased national networking and partnership opportunities
      • Insight into the systems, sectors and sources of effective leadership practice
      • A professionally aware and informed leader who can make evidence-based strategic 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

    How is NPQEL delivered?

    NPQEL makes use of a blended delivery model consisting of face-to-face events, online study, webinars and coaching.

    NPQEL participants will attend 6 face-to-face events (including 1 x 2 day conference) via the blended delivery model. Our nationwide delivery partnership network  allows us to bring face-to-face training to a regional conference centre ,  facilitated by experienced  school leaders and facilitators.

    Participants access online learning and support via our virtual learning environment (VLE) Canvas. Through Canvas, participants are able to engage with learning communities of  peers and access multimedia content. They can also access research and expert school-led practice aligned to the curriculum content for the qualification and receive high-quality feedback from experienced performance coaches. 


    Leadership Performance Coach

    The leadership performance coach is a participant’s main point of contact for the duration of the NPQEL. Their role is to support a participant’s progress and development through the programme. They will respond to practice task activities completed for each online course and provide challenge and feedback on each of the formative assessment tasks. Each participant will receive small group and individual coaching sessions from their leadership performance coach to develop their thinking and support their progress.

    In-school Sponsor

    The in-school sponsor is someone who the leadership route participant can check in with across the duration of the programme and who can provide relevant professional guidance, support and challenge. The sponsor is not a formalised programme role but a go-to person to talk about the learning and development from the qualification and its application in practice. The sponsor may be a leader from another school/organisation.

    NPQEL Qualification Structure

    NPQEL Framework

    The NPQ frameworks are based on a robust method of design and development, building on the evidence base and expert guidance already established in the ECF and the ITT Core Content Framework. The NPQ frameworks reflect the Teachers’ Standards and Headteachers' Standards to ensure coherency with the requirements already used by the teaching profession.

    Please see the National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership Framework below. If your computer or device does not support the Adobe plugin you can download the framework pdf here.

    NPQ Webinar

    Please view our NPQ webinar held on 16 November 2021 below, the presentation slides can be downloaded here.

    Our full suite of NPQs can be found at 

    If you are working in an international school then please visit to view our international NPQ offer.

    Who is this for?

    NPQEL is suitable for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, an executive headteacher with responsibility for leading several schools and have a minimum of three years as a headteacher or head of school. 


    Applicants must be a serving Head Teacher (or equivalent role) with a minimum of 3 years’ experience.

    If do not have QTS or QTLS, you will need to have completed a Level 5 qualification (any subject).

    What does it cost?

    The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) costs £4,095 plus VAT if applicable.
    VAT will not be applied to DfE funded candidates or state-funded schools.


    NPQEL is also available to colleagues in England as part of a Leaders Apprenticeship funded by the Apprenticeship Levy. For more information please visit


    Teachers and leaders employed in state-funded schools as well as those employed in state-funded organisations that offer 16-19 places in England will be able to access fully-funded DfE NPQ scholarships for the Spring 2022 NPQ Intake. The scholarships cover the full cost of the qualification and there is no limit to how many scholarships a single school can access. Simply apply for NPQEL and we will apply for the scholarship on your behalf. 

    To view the full range of NPQ scholarships and funding pathways available please visit NPQ Funding 2021.

    Access to funding remains conditional on successful verification of participants’ registration information against Teaching Regulation Agency records, so you must ensure that the information supplied to your NPQ provider matches your teacher record. You can check and update your record via the Teaching Regulation Agency’ Teacher Self-Service Portal.

    PLEASE NOTE: the DfE will only fund an NPQ course for a participant once. This means that a participant who starts a course, and then withdraws or fails, will not be funded again for the same course. (NB: the DfE will fund participants for different NPQs if they meet the eligibility criteria).

    The above does not apply to legacy NPQs, and any participant who has previously received NPQ funding for the 2017 suite of NPQs will be eligible for funding for the 2021 suite of NPQs (if they meet the eligibility criteria).

    Leaders Apprenticeship with NPQEL

    Stand out from the crowd and complete NPQEL whilst simultaneously working towards the Level 7 Senior Leader Standard - a cross-sector leadership qualification which is the perfect accompaniment to the NPQEL.

    The Leaders Apprenticeship with NPQEL is funded by the Apprenticeship Levy or government co-investment and comes with a whole raft of extra support, resources and content compared with completing a standalone NPQ.

    Participants receive added support in the form of monthly meetings with a dedicated Apprenticeship Tutor. Our Apprenticeship Tutors are themselves experienced school leaders and headteachers and are able to offer invaluable assistance and advice for the duration of the programme.

    One Programme, Two Qualifications

    Graduates of the Leaders Apprenticeships are awarded two qualifications which are completed at the same time and within the same 18 month period as the standalone NPQEL.  As well as benefitting from the full NPQEL content and delivery, participants receive extended leadership training, webinars and monthly meetings with an Apprenticeship Tutor to ensure they meet the requirements of the Level 7 Senior Leader Standard. Compared with the standalone NPQEL, there are approximately 80 additional learning hours spread out over the 18 month duration of the programme.

    National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership
    Professional registration links: NPQSEL

    Level 7 Senior Leader Standard

    Professional registration links: Chartered Manager (CMgr MCMI) or Chartered Fellow (CMgr FCMI), The Institute of Leadership and Management


    Next Steps

    If you would like to find out more then please contact our team on 0117 920 9428 or visit our Contact Form.

    To join the next intake, register your interest using the NPQEL Application Portal, and indicate that you will be funding the NPQEL through your school's Apprenticeship Service Account. Our team will then contact you to arrange the funding and complete the enrolment process.