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National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL)

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For: Senior leaders or aspiring senior leaders

Course length: 18 months

Accreditation: NPQSL

Programme start date: October and February. 

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

Cost: If your school is not eligible for full scholarship funding, the cost of this NPQ is £1,139 + VAT 

NPQSL scholarship funding information October 2024.

Brochure: Download 

We’re pleased to announce that we are partnering with education charity Ambition Institute to deliver the new NPQ for Senior Leadership. This 18-month programme helps participants to develop their leadership knowledge and expertise to improve outcomes for teachers and pupils in their schools.

Those doing the training will learn:

  • How to enact positive change across their school
  • Evidence-based knowledge taught by leadership experts
  • At a time and pace that suits their existing timetable.

Benefits to your school:

  • Learning backed by the latest evidence
  • Create a leadership pipeline
  • Attract and retain teaching staff.

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 Senior Leadership gives you the chance to learn evidence-based school leadership and put it into practice. It also gives you the opportunity to focus on specific leadership challenges in your school or trust.

This is one of six new and reformed NPQs that have been developed as a series. Each 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

Train to your timetable
This programme is designed to be flexible to fit with your busy working role. Training is delivered in bite-sized chunks, which is useful for knowledge retention, and you can learn at a time and pace that suits you.

Build your confidence
Get the support you need to take the next step in your career.

Access the latest research
Benefit from the latest evidence-based learning and approaches to great teaching and leadership. See how it can improve schools and change lives. 

Enact positive change
Ambition Institute’s programmes are designed to support you to apply and translate what you’ve learned to your own school context. It does this by providing models and examples that seek to make the link between theory and practice concrete.

Benefit from peer-to-peer support
Learn from a network of like-minded peers and have the opportunity to share insight with colleagues in your own school setting.


Benefits for your school or trust

Create a common knowledge base
NPQ qualifications are aligned, so you can have confidence that all educators will share a common language and framework to develop your school or trust.

Support your leaders 
Senior leaders will be given the tools to drill down into specific areas of leadership to improve their knowledge, make evidence-informed decisions and action positive change.

Learning backed by evidence
Participants will be introduced to evidence-informed practices straightaway. This will help them develop strategies to improve teaching and pupil performance at your school.

Make a leadership pipeline
The programme will help to identify future leaders and create a positive culture where teachers can develop and thrive. 

Boost attainment
Studies show that high-quality continuous 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 are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities. Participants must be at middle leadership or above currently.

Example roles:

  • Assistant Headteacher/Associate Assistant Headteacher | Deputy Headteacher/Vice Principal | Head of Faculty/ Department/Subject | Head of Year | Head of Early Years | Second in Maths | SENCO | Head of ITT | Head of primary key stage/Head of Early Years 

Not suitable for:

  • ECT  
  • Class teacher   
  • Headteacher  
  • Executive headteacher 


What you’ll learn

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

You will learn how to:

  • Set clear goals and communicate shared values that improve the culture in your classrooms and school 
  • 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
  • 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 colleagues know their responsibilities.

How you’ll learn
The content is delivered through blended learning. This includes a mix of Covid-safe face-to-face conferences, real-time, interactive online sessions and self-guided modules you can complete in your own time. You will put what you learn into practice in your school and can track your progress and get feedback as you go.

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 Senior Leadership (NPQSL).



To apply, you must be, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities. For example, you might be an assistant or deputy headteacher, or a head of department or faculty.

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 NPQSL: