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National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL)

For: Executive leaders

Course length: 18 months

Accreditation: NPQEL

Programme start date: October and February Applications open in Summer Term 2 for an October 23 start

Cost: £4,099 plus VAT. Many schools and settings are eligible for full scholarships.


We’re pleased to announce that we are partnering with education charity Ambition Institute to deliver the new NPQ for Executive Leadership.

Why us?

Ambition Institute’s new National Professional Qualification (NPQ) for Executive Leadership gives you the chance to put evidence-based leadership methods into practice and drive change in your schools or multi-academy trust.

This is one of six new and reformed NPQs that have been developed as a series. They share the same common language and framework to help drive improvement across schools.

Benefits for you

Excel as an executive leader
Set an ambitious vision for your schools or trust and create the conditions and culture needed for staff and pupils to thrive.

Learn from experts
Join one-to-one coaching sessions where you’ll get advice from experts and tailored feedback on your performance.

Train to your timetable
This programme is designed to be completed alongside your daily role. It is delivered in short, bite-sized chunks, which is proven to be useful for knowledge retention, and will fit around your existing commitments.

Form a strong support network
Connect with other school leaders, share your collective expertise and build a tight-knit network with people who face the same challenges as you.


Benefits for your school or trust

Focus on your specific needs
Traditionally, professional development in leadership has focused on personal traits, such as the qualities of dynamic and charismatic leadership. The new and reformed NPQs pay more attention to the knowledge leaders need to tackle the persistent problems of their daily roles.

Share a common knowledge base
National Professional Qualifications are aligned, so all educators will be working to the same framework and be able to share a common language for developing a school or trust.

Learn from the best
Ambition Institute has a proven track record in delivering continuous professional development. Your leaders will benefit from the latest evidence-based learning and develop expert knowledge in all areas of school leadership.

Gain expert knowledge
This programme is led by experts, giving your executive leaders the chance to connect with a network of talented educators and put what they learn into practice at your organisation.

Suitable (please review before applying)

Must be a school leader who is, or is aspiring to be, an executive headteacher or have a school trust CEO role with responsibility for leading several schools. Participants must be in a headteacher role or above currently. 

Example roles:

  • Executive Headteacher | Headteacher/Principal | CEO (in first year) 

Not suitable for:

  • Class teacher  
  • Head of ITT   
  • Deputy Head 
  • Assistant head 
  • ECT 

Participants can also complete the NPQ if they are working across schools (i.e. they do not work in one particular school), however, they will not be eligible for DfE funding.

It is important to set expectations before participants apply: although we believe that all participants will benefit and gain value from completing an NPQ, the curriculum is designed based on participants being in a school. Therefore, participants not in a single school may need to do further reflection to make the most of the content.

Participants do not need to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to complete an NPQ; however, they must still meet the criteria above. 


What you'll learn

This programme develops your executive leadership skills and knowledge and covers the content listed in the Department for Education’s NPQ Executive Leadership Framework.

You will learn how to:

  • create a positive and effective culture across your schools or trust
  • support school leaders and your senior team to put in place an evidence-informed approach to designing the curriculum
  • give clear feedback to teachers and make sure they are supported with guidance and training to do their jobs effectively
  • create and sustain a positive, safe and predictable environment for all pupils across your schools or trust
  • work with school leaders and your senior team to make sure professional development priorities are aligned with plans to improve your school or trust
  • work effectively in partnership with parents, the community and other schools and trusts
  • participate in governance and be fully transparent and accountable

How you’ll learn:

The content is delivered through a mix of real-time, interactive online clinics and self-guided modules you complete in your own time. You will put what you learn into practice across your schools or trust, tracking your progress and getting feedback as you go. You will also benefit from one-to-one coaching sessions led by experts and peer-based learning.

Note: programme content is subject to change.

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Delivery model


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The assessment window starts at the end of the 18-month programme and runs for three months. During this time, participants will be given an eight-day window to sit an ‘open book’ style assessment in which they respond to a short case study.

There are two assessment windows every year, and participants can sit the assessment two times, if they need to.

You need to complete the course to qualify for the NPQ accreditation.

We will offer a webinar and live clinic in advance of the assessment window to support participants.


This publication provides guidance from the Department for Education (DfE). It sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours that will be developed by school leaders when they participate in the National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL).



To apply, you must be a school leader who is, or is aspiring to be, an executive headteacher or have a school trust CEO role with responsibility for leading several schools.

Please note: any eligible participants who are withdrawn from a NPQ programme will not be eligible for funding for the same programme in the future. Only apply if you are 100% committed and confident that you can meet all the programme requirements.