NPQs: what are they?


NPQs are qualifications which teachers and school leaders can choose to complete during their careers. 

NPQs provide training and support for school staff at all levels, from those who want to develop expertise in high quality teaching practice, such as behaviour management, to those leading multiple schools across trusts. 

They are a suite of qualifications which are accredited by the Department for Education (DfE) and are delivered by a range of different providers who you can apply to. Different providers include, Ambition Institute, Outstanding Leaders Partnership, Teach First, Star Institute and many more.

In this article, we explain what NPQs are, how they will be reformed and link to additional information.

What are NPQs?

National professional qualifications (NPQs) are a national, voluntary suite of qualifications designed to support the professional development of teachers and leaders.

The DfE accredits a range of providers to design, deliver, and assess the NPQs. The NPQs comprise the:

  • National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) for those that are, or are aspiring to be, a middle leader with responsibility for leading a team
  • National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) for leaders that are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities
  • National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) for leaders that are, or are aspiring to be, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school
  • National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) for leaders that are, or are aspiring to be, an executive headteacher or MAT CEO role with responsibility for leading several schools

Six content areas

There are six content areas for each NPQ, which set out what a leader should know or be able to do. 

The six content areas are common to each NPQ, but the knowledge and skills within them increases in sophistication, depth and breadth progressively through the NPQ levels. 

The six content areas are:

  • Strategy and improvement
  • Teaching and curriculum excellence
  • Leading with impact
  • Working in partnership
  • Managing resources and risks
  • Increasing capability

Seven leadership behaviours

There are seven leadership behaviours, common to each NPQ level, which set out how the best leaders operate. They are: 

  • Commitment
  • Collaboration
  • Personal drive
  • Resilience
  • Awareness
  • Integrity
  • Respect

Reformed NPQs: what are the changes?

The DfE explains that from September 2021, a reformed suite of NPQs will be available for teachers and leaders who want to develop their knowledge and skills in school leadership and specialist areas of teaching practice. These reforms include:

  • Reforming the three existing NPQs in senior leadership, headship and executive leadership
  • Replacing the current NPQ in middle leadership with three NPQs for teachers and leaders who want to develop their expertise in specialist areas of teaching practice

NPQs in specialist areas of teaching

The areas covered in the three NPQs include:

  • Supporting the training and development of others
  • Developing teachers who are subject leads or responsible for improving teaching practice in a subject or phase
  • Developing teachers who have responsibilities for leading behaviour and culture

We will update this article when more information becomes available.

What CPD am I required to receive as a teacher?

We’ve published another support article which explains that the DfE and Ofsted does not outline statutory requirements on the content, duration or delivery method of CPD programmes in schools. 

It explains some schools will outline in their CPD policies how you can request CPD provision if you feel there is a need for it. It will be useful to link your CPD request with your school’s development plan and how it will have a positive impact on learning and teaching. 

It will also be helpful to highlight any costs, impact of staffing duties and any research and evidence on what you think the impact will have on pupils.

If you are an Edapt subscriber and if you have questions about your employment contract and completing NPQs requirements until you leave your role you can contact us for advice and support.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.