National Professional Qualification for Headship

National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)

The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is the first-choice qualification for anyone aspiring to become a headteacher or principal.

The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) has recently been redesigned to reflect the changes within the educational landscape and the diverse role of headship and of school leadership in general. Headteachers today have new responsibilities and there are radical changes to the way schools interact with each other and other services. NPQH provides trainee headteachers with the confidence, skills and professional knowledge they need to deliver the best for pupils and all members of the school community in their first headship post.

NPQH is a self directed programme with a range of essential and elective modules that trainee headteachers will complete on their journey to the final assessment.

The programme is designed to:

  • take account of individual’s professional development needs, prior learning and achievements

  • improve and develop their strategic leadership expertise

  • develop key leadership and management skills

  • provide opportunities to work in different educational contexts

  • give individuals the confidence and competence to take up their first headship and make a positive impact on the school, the lives of children, young people and their families

Graduation from NPQH will demonstrate your ability to be an effective headteacher and that you are ready to take up your first headship. The NPQH Final Assessment process has therefore been designed to provide opportunities for you to demonstrate your leadership in practice through the successful completion of school improvement work undertaken in your own and other schools, as well as your capacity to perform well in presenting and at interview.

NPQH Final Assessment is competency based, testing key competencies that are required for successful headship. The assessment process will enable you to demonstrate the progress you have made towards successful headship through NPQH. Full details of the competencies tested are given below.

The Final Assessment comprises three tasks:

Task 1

You will undertake a task in your school (or agreed school setting if not based in school) in which you lead for an extended period on an actual school improvement priority.

Task 2

You will undertake a task, in partnership with your placement school, where you will lead for a short period on an actual school improvement priority, working closely with placement school staff and the school leadership. Over the whole period of the placement, you will develop a relationship with the placement school to enable you to extend your own learning about school leadership and to improve your own leadership.

Task 3

You will attend a presentation/interview and make a presentation to a panel and answer questions put by the panel on the content of your presentation. You will need to be able to show you have developed the competence to present in a credible way as a headteacher. You should also be prepared to demonstrate how you have used your NPQH experiences to reflect upon and improve your own leadership competencies to a level that shows your readiness to take up your first headship.

The school-based work undertaken in Tasks 1 and 2 will need to be achievable within a 12 month period;  relate to the schools’ improvement priorities; and must produce demonstrable positive impact and sustainable change.

For all aspects of the assessment you will be expected to draw upon your practical experience, research and school evidence to inform your leadership decision making. You will also be expected to apply your learning from the essential and elective modules you have completed and to draw upon your knowledge and expertise in key national policy priorities, for example, leading and improving the quality of teaching and pupils’ behaviour, teacher appraisal and financial management.

Scholarships and Costs

A limited number of bursaries are available.

You will also need to pay £1500 for your final assessment if any of the following apply:

  • If you are not in receipt of a bursary
  • if you apply from an independent or non-maintained school
  • if you apply from a school outside England 

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