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National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)

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For: Headteachers or aspiring headteachers

Course length: 18 months

Accreditation: NPQH

Programme start dates: October and February.

The Expression of Interest form for an October 2024 start is available to complete under the 'Apply' tab.

Cost: If you are part of an independent school the cost of this NPQ is £1,949 + VAT 

NPQH scholarship funding information for October 2024.

Brochure: Download


We’re pleased to announce that we are partnering with education charity Ambition Institute to deliver the new NPQ for Headship. Within 18 months, participants will develop the knowledge that underpins expert school leadership and apply it to become outstanding headteachers.

Those doing the training will learn: 

  • How to combine insight and practice to drive change
  • How to put what you learn into practice in your school context 
  • At a time and pace that suits their existing timetable.

Benefits to your school:

  • Create confident school leaders
  • Learn from the latest evidence
  • Transform pupil outcomes.

The programme is delivered by our highly trained and skilled Visiting Fellows; teachers and leaders from our school-based delivery partners.

Why us?

Why this programme?
Ambition Institute’s new National Professional Qualification (NPQ) for Headship gives you the chance to put evidence-based school leadership methods into practice and drive change in your school setting. It also offers the opportunity to focus on specific headship challenges in your school or 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.

Ambition Institute knows that schools’ and trusts’ needs vary. So its programmes are designed with flexibility in mind and can be completed at a time that suits you best and fits in with your existing role. Through Steplab, the innovative personal development platform built for teachers, by teachers, you will have access to your modules and practice activities to help you get better faster.


Benefits for you

Enjoy flexible learning
This programme is designed to fit around your timetable and most of the work can be completed at times that suit you. 

Learn crucial skills and sector knowledge
All the knowledge you’ll learn on this programme is drawn from a single, evidence-based framework shared by other educators across England. 

Learning that sticks
Training is delivered little and often, in regular bite-sized chunks, so there are no long days of training that take you away from your day job. Learning in short, sharp bursts also helps you to retain knowledge.

Thrive in your school setting
Develop the knowledge and skills to work to the best of your ability and tackle the complexities and challenges of your daily role.

Drive habit change
Embedding new habits can be tricky. Ambition Institute’s dual modules help you to apply what you learn, connecting theory to practice, to help those habits stick. Insight modules capture the very best the sector has to contribute on a given topic. Application modules help you to use the ideas in context, with support from peers.


Benefits for your school or trust

Create confident school leaders
Headteachers are equipped with school-focused leadership knowledge, which they can use to establish a culture and conditions where staff and pupils can thrive.

Underpinned by the latest evidence
The framework for the new NPQ for Headship was developed using the latest evidence on effective professional development for teachers and leaders, approved by the Education Endowment Fund (EFF).

Shared learning
Participants learn alongside colleagues whose context is similar, facilitated by delivery partners who know and understand your needs.

Create a common knowledge base
All of Ambition Institute's NPQs are aligned, meaning teachers and leaders share a common language and framework to drive improvement in their school.

Transform pupil outcomes
Education Policy Institute research shows that high-quality professional development can improve pupil outcomes almost as effectively as having a teacher with 10 years’ experience in the classroom.

Suitability (please review before applying)

Must be, or aspire to be, a headteacher or head of school with a responsibility for leading a school. Participants must be at senior leadership level or above currently.

Example roles:

  • Headteacher | Head of School | Director of Teaching School | Deputy Headteacher/Vice Principal | Assistant Headteacher / Vice Principal  

Not suitable for:

  • ECT | Primary Teacher | SENCO
  • Literacy coordinator/ Class teacher/Maths subject lead/Specialist Leader of Education (Junior School) 
  • Director of Learning for any subject/Head of department/Head of primary key stage/Head of Early Years 

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.



What you’ll learn

This programme develops your knowledge and skills in the 10 areas listed in the Department for Education’s NPQ Headship Framework

You will learn how to:

  • Set clear goals and communicate shared values that improve classroom and school culture
  • Transform pupils’ knowledge, capabilities and beliefs about learning
  • Create a fair and structured approach to learning and testing
  • Establish a safe and positive environment for pupils
  • Support colleagues to meet individual needs and make sure all pupils have access to a rich curriculum
  • Lead school-wide professional development for staff
  • Establish good financial, human and educational resource management
  • Make and act on evidence-informed decisions
  • Work well with parents, carers, other schools and the wider community
  • Lead by example, be accountable for decisions and make sure staff know their professional responsibilities.

How you’ll learn
The content is delivered through blended learning. This includes real-time, interactive online sessions, Covid-safe face-to-face conferences and self-guided modules you can fit around your timetable. You will put what you learn into practice in your school and be able to track your progress and get feedback as you go. The programme also includes coaching and peer 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.

Ambition Institute 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 Headship (NPQH).


Additional support offer for the National Professional Qualification in Headship

In addition to the reformed suite of NPQs, the department is introducing additional support for new headteachers from Autumn 2021. This is a targeted support package for teachers new to the role of headship.

New headteachers are eligible for this targeted support package if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • They are in their first 2 years of headship.
  • They have either completed the reformed NPQH before taking up their first headship post or are currently taking the NPQH.
  • They have not withdrawn from or failed the same programme previously.
  • They are employed by a state funded school in England upon starting the training.

The offer provides structured, unassessed face-to-face support based on the best available evidence about what makes an effective headteacher. While the exact content of this support will depend on the provider chosen, activities could include a combination of group coaching, one-to-one support discussions and peer network support. 


To apply, you must be, or aspire to be a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school.

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.

Please complete the Expression of Interest form here if you wish to apply for the NPQH: