At a glance


Course duration
Course duration
18 Months

Face-to-face events
Face-to-face Events
6 (including 1 x 2 day conference)

Online learning
Online learning
38 hours

6 hours

Total learning hours
Total Learning Hours
116 hours



The NPQEL is a DfE-accredited qualification for current and aspiring executive school leaders.

The content and processes used within the programme are subject to robust external quality assurance so that schools and participants may have confidence that the areas studied have direct relevance to their current needs.

But don't take our word for it, hear from our NPQEL participants currently completing the qualification about how the qualification has helped them lead and even secure a promotion.

Benefits for participants

  • Increased knowledge and understanding of what effective executive leaders need to know (learn that), and to be able to do (learn how to), to successfully lead the strategic direction of a trust and its constituent schools
  • Opportunities to network with other leaders, both nationally and internationally, in order to reflect on the latest research into effective trust leadership and to explore practice in settings different to their own
  • Choose what to study. Our regular needs analyses support participants to focus their energies on those leadership domains they most wish to develop.
  • Assessment tasks that involve professional enquiry into practical elements of trust organisation
  • Individual coaching focused on current personal professional needs provided by our experienced performance coaches
  • Flexible delivery arrangements according to needs and circumstances
  • The NPQEL qualification is aligned to Masters credits and can act as a springboard on to Liverpool Hope University’s MA in Leading in Education or the MBA in Educational Leadership

Benefits for Schools - develop leaders who

  • Are able to set, and deliver, an ambitious vision for the trust
  • Are equipped with essential knowledge and understanding of the relationship between the different domains an executive leader must lead
  • Can lead and establish a culture of professional evidence-based enquiry throughout the trust and support other leaders in its implementation
  • Has the skills to weigh the benefits of establishing common systems and practices across a trust against the benefits of with providing the constituent schools with the freedom to develop their own practices
  • Has a deep understanding of the complexities of implementing sustainable change across several organisations
  • Shares common understandings and a shared professional language with other leaders within and beyond their trust – the ‘golden thread’ of professional development



"The programme has been an eye-opener. It has allowed me to reflect on my practice. Most of all it has made me more conscious of decisions and its impact. I have recently joined a multi-academy trust and this programme has made me into a self-reflective practitioner."

NPQEL Graduate



Who is it 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.

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 near you, facilitated by experienced school leaders and facilitators.

Online Learning

Participants access online learning and support via our virtual learning environment (VLE) Canvas. Through Canvas, participants are able to engage with their 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. 

NPQEL Qualification Structure

NPQEL Qualification Structure

Applicants must have full support from their school/organisation. A Chair of Governors, School Improvement Officer (or similar authoritative role) must confirm their support and that all information submitted is true and correct. This is a Department for Education mandatory requirement.

To apply for NPQEL, applicants must have the following:

  • Teacher Reference Number - see TRN Support Guide 
  • 2 years teaching experience
  • Leadership aspiration/experience
  • 3 years experience as a headteacher

If you are unsure if you meet the above requirements or have other relevant experience then please contact our team who will be able to support your application.

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
  • Candidates from international schools should visit our NPQEL international page for international prices


NPQ scholarships for the Autumn 2024 Cohort are extremely limited, so please apply as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

The limited funding will target those teachers and leaders who work in the most challenging schools or educational settings, serving more disadvantaged communities. The limited scholarships will cover the full NPQ course cost and will be available to teachers and leaders from:

    • The 50% of schools with the highest proportion of students who attract pupil premium funding
    • 16 to 19 educational settings identified as having high disadvantage
    • All scholarships are subject to availability - apply now for the best chance of receiving a scholarship!

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.

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 their learning and development from the qualification and its application in practice. The sponsor may be a leader from another school/organisation.

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.


Fancy an extra challenge? Join the Executive Leader Programme with NPQEL to extend your leadership training and earn a full Level 7 qualification as well as the NPQEL!

Learn more

How to apply

We are now accepting applications for the Autumn 2024 NPQEL Cohort. Click below to apply.

Apply Now


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