NPQEL 2018-06-27T11:08:10+00:00

National Professional Qualification for Executive Leaders

Leading or aspiring to lead across several organisations

The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) follows a leadership curriculum based on Masters level criteria and focuses on developing the knowledge, skills and attributes of a successful executive leader. The NPQEL has been written for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a leader across several schools. To achieve the NPQEL qualification, you’ll need to attend all face to face days, receive individual executive coaching (provided), to study the online content and submit successfully for assessment after 12-18 months.


The NPQEL is ideal for those who are, or are aspiring to become, an executive headteacher or CEO of a MAT with responsibility for leading across several schools.  This qualification is also suitable for someone working at this level within a local authority or similar.  You’ll need to have the full support and endorsement of someone to whom you are accountable, for example the CEO of your Trust or the Chair of Trustees. Your line manager will also have to commit to playing an active role in your learning, encouraging and promoting your involvement in executive leadership and other professional development opportunities.

You should normally be within about 12-18 months of applying for an executive post. You will have to be approved as ready to study at this level before registering for the programme. The application process requires candidates to provide evidence against the criteria for NPQEL framework, and this may be conducted through a 360 diagnostic and by producing a reflective commentary and personal professional development plan. You also require the endorsement of your line manager or sponsor.

The NPQEL is set to produce an outstanding generation of executive leaders.

  1. It provides you with a credible, valid and nationally recognised qualification from an accredited provider to support your development and add strength to your applications for executive posts
  2. It has been designed in collaboration with some of the country’s leading executive leaders and academics to give balance between academic rigour and applied leadership.
  3. The flexible structure combines core elements with the freedom to specialise or develop your own areas of professional interest.
  4. The executive coaching guides you as your prepare for final assessment and provides high quality support as you implement a change project and increase your own and others’ effectiveness..
  5. It provides access to peer learning and coaching to extend and maximise your learning throughout the programme.

The NPQEL is a robust and flexible programme. To complete the qualification, you will need to attend up to 6 face to face days, complete online tasks and learning and undertake a change task while being supported by the provision of individual executive coaching.

The NPQEL will take you between 2 terms and 18 months to complete. During this time you will:

  1. develop knowledge and skills across 6 content areas, which set out what an effective executive leader should know and be able to do
  2. have the opportunity to develop up to 7 important leadership behaviours, which set out how an effective leader should operate
  3. complete a final assessment that evaluates your capability against the knowledge and skills set out in the 6 content areas

Content areas

The 6 content areas across which you will develop your executive leadership knowledge and skills are:

  1. strategy and improvement
  2. teaching and curriculum excellence
  3. leading with impact
  4. working in partnership
  5. managing resources and risks
  6. increasing capability

Leadership behaviours

The 7 leadership behaviours that you will have the opportunity to develop are:

  1. commitment
  2. collaboration
  3. personal drive
  4. resilience
  5. awareness
  6. integrity
  7. respect

Structure and teaching methods

The structure of the NPQEL will include:

  1. on-the-job leadership training
  2. challenge and support – through a coach and/or mentor
  3. access to high-quality resources, drawing on up-to-date research and evidence
  4. professional development from and with credible peers
  5. opportunities for structured reflection
  6. Links with a nationally recognised business school

Final assessment

You will:

  1. design a sustainable business development strategy for your organisation, analysing the benefits, costs and risks of different options
  2. lead a project to improve progress and attainment in several schools

Through these 2 projects, you will need to demonstrate your competence through an assessment linked to the knowledge and skills set out in the 6 content areas.

All face to face sessions will take place at a high quality suitable venue within the eastern region.

Dates and location to be confirmed.

It is very important that you provide your Teacher reference Number (TRN) correctly in your application. Most often, the TRN can be found on your school’s central record (which is an Ofsted safeguarding requirement), on your QTS certificate, on your application form for a teaching post and on your Teachers’ Pension annual statement. It is also part of the online login to access the Teachers’ Pension Service online so it’s worth checking to see if you asked your computer to remember it. Some employers include the TRN on a salary slip.

The TRN was previously known as a DfEE number, and similar titles. The TRN is normally in the form: 01 / 23456. If you have a number that is in a different form it is not your TRN and will be rejected by NCTL. Currently TRNs are handled by Capita. If you have not been successful following the above suggestions you can also get your Teacher Reference Number by contacting Capita, who co-ordinate teachers’ pension arrangements:

Telephone: 01325 745746
Fax: 01325 745789

This may take some time though – so we advise you to contact them without delay if you need their help.

Alternatively you can contact the National College QTS Team via the following information:

Telephone: 0207 593 5394

Please note: you will need to provide the QTS team with your full name, date of birth and national insurance number to be able to request your TRN.

The cost for the NPQEL, including coaching and final assessment is £4500.

Are you eligible for a fully-funded place?

Funds of £10 million have been set aside by government in order to support teachers and leaders in challenging areas to access the National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) for Middle Leaders (NPQML), Senior Leaders (NPQSL), Headteachers (NPQH) and Executive Leaders (NPQEL).

We are able to offer fully-funded places on the NPQs to those applicants working in a school in an Opportunity Area (OA) or a Category 5 or 6 area. Anyone in these areas who does not already hold the NPQ for which they are applying and has not have previously dropped out before completing it may apply.

Please note that places are limited, so ensure that your application is with us as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

A full list of the eligible areas can be found below:

• Arun
• Ashfield
• Ashford
• Babergh
• Basingstoke and Deane
• Bracknell Forest
• Braintree
• Broxtowe
• Burnley
• Cannock Chase
• Carlisle
• Coventry
• Dudley
• East Lindsey
• Eden
• Gravesham
• Halton
• Havant
• Kirklees
• Leicester
• Lewes
• Lincoln
• Luton
• Mansfield
• Medway
• Mid Suffolk
• Milton Keynes
• Newark and Sherwood
• North Lincolnshire
• North Warwickshire
• Nuneaton and Bedworth
• Pendle
• Reading
• Rochdale
• Salford
• Sefton
• Sheffield
• South Staffordshire
• St Edmundsbury
• St. Helens
• Stafford
• Staffordshire Moorlands
• Stevenage
• Swindon
• Tameside
• Telford and Wrekin
• Tendring
• Thanet
• Torridge
• Warrington
• Wirral
• Wychavon
• Wyre Forest

• Amber Valley
• Barnsley
• Blackpool
• Bolsover
• Bradford
• Breckland
• Chesterfield
• Corby
• Crawley
• Daventry
• Derby
• Doncaster
• East Cambridgeshire
• East Northamptonshire
• East Riding of Yorkshire
• East Staffordshire
• Erewash
• Fenland
• Forest Heath
• Gosport
• Great Yarmouth
• Hastings
• High Peak
• Huntingdonshire
• Ipswich
• Isle of Wight
• Kettering
• King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
• Kingston upon Hull, City of
• Knowsley
• Liverpool
• Middlesbrough
• North East Derbyshire
• North East Lincolnshire
• Northampton
• Northumberland
• Norwich
• Nottingham
• Oldham
• Peterborough
• Portsmouth
• Sandwell
• Scarborough
• South Derbyshire
• South Holland
• Stoke-on-Trent
• Tamworth
• Walsall
• Waveney
• Wellingborough
• West Somerset
• Weymouth and Portland
• Wolverhampton
• Worthing

  • West Somerset
  • Norwich
  • Blackpool
  • North Yorkshire coast
  • Derby
  • Oldham
  • Bradford
  • Doncaster
  • Fenland and East Cambridgeshire
  • Hastings
  • Ipswich
  • Stoke-on-Trent


Please note that applications are now closed for the Autumn 2018 intake of NPQEL, with the next intake to be held in Spring 2019. Please use the link below to register your interest and we will contact you with further details of the next cohort as soon as they are available.

Register your interest