National Professional Qualification for Headship

Aspiring to lead an organisation

The Department for Education’s NPQH follows a leadership curriculum based on Masters level criteria and focuses on developing the knowledge, skills and attributes of a successful headteacher. The NPQH has been written for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school. This includes those who are, or are aspiring to be, a head or head of school with cross-school responsibilities e.g. a National Leader of Education (NLE). To achieve the NPQH qualification, you’ll need to attend all face to face days, to study the online content involving extended case studies and related in-school assignments with a stronger focus on leading a whole school.

Who is NPQH for?

NPQH is ideal if you are motivated to be a headteacher and are no more than about 12-18 months from applying for headship posts. You’ll need to have the full support and endorsement of your headteacher, line manager or sponsor. Your line manager will also have to commit to playing an active role in your learning, encouraging and promoting your involvement in leadership and other professional development opportunities.

Can anyone study NPQH?

You should normally be within about 12-18 months of applying for a headship. You will have to pass the initial gateway assessment before registering for the programme. The application form requires candidates to provide evidence against the criteria within the NPQH gateway assessment framework. You also require the endorsement of your line manager or sponsor. The NPQH is relevant to and open to colleagues who are acting headteachers or already in post as a headteacher.

What are the benefits of NPQH qualification?

The NPQH is well-established as the first-choice qualification for anyone aspiring to be a headteacher or principal. The programme is set to produce an outstanding generation of school and academy leaders.

  • It provides you with a credible, valid and reliable final assessment report to support governing body interview panels and give you the competitive edge when applying for headships.
  • It has been designed in collaboration with some of the country’s leading headteachers and academics to give balance between academic rigour and applied leadership.
  • The flexible structure combines core elements with the freedom to specialise or develop your own areas of professional interest.
  • The in-school placement combines a whole-school strategic leadership task with the opportunity to work alongside an experienced headteacher in a different context.
  • It provides access to peer learning and optional coaching to extend and maximise your learning throughout the programme.
    The NPQH is relevant to and open to colleagues who are acting headteachers or already in post as a headteacher.

What is the content structure of the NPQH programme?

The NPQH is a robust and flexible programme. To complete the qualification, you will need to attend all 5 face to face days, compete online tasks and learning and undertake school improvement tasks in your own and a placement school.

To complete the NPQH programme the maximum study time for the whole qualification will be 160 hours approx. 25 hours of this will be face to face learning, with the remainder of the time spent exploring the online library, engaging in discussions, individual research, in school activities related to the programme and preparation and engagement with the assessment task.

Your placement in another school needs to be conducted over around nine days (not consecutive). During the placement you will design an action plan and produce a curriculum-led budget to meet your placement school’s resourcing and capability needs. Through both of your projects (in your own school and in your placement school), you will need to demonstrate your competence through an assessment linked to the knowledge and skills set out in the 6 content areas.

How is the programme assessed?

In order to achieve the NPQH qualification you must attend all face to face days, undertake online activities, complete your school placement and register for and successfully complete the final assessment task.

The Assessment Handbook for the NPQH can be accessed here.

How long does it take?

The qualification takes between 12 and 18 months to complete. The maximum study time for the whole qualification will be 160 hours approx. 25 hours of this will be face to face learning, with the remainder of the time spent exploring the online library, engaging in discussions, individual research, in school activities related to the programme and preparation and engagement with the assessment task.

Where will the programme be held?

Face to face sessions will take place at a suitable venue within the Eastern region.

Spring Term 2021


The current contract to deliver the National Professional Qualifications ends in 2022, with the final date for submission being Spring 2022. This means that all programmes starting in Spring 2021 will run for 14 months, rather than the previously advertised maximum of 18 months. The average time for Leadership East participants to submit successfully for assessment is 14 months and we are therefore confident that this is a reasonable time for completion. We have tailored the timings between delivered sessions to optimise learning and the time allowed for work on assessment tasks.

Participants are advised to start to prepare their projects for assessment at the earliest possible stage of their qualification in order to allow contingency time should any amendments to tasks be necessary.

Event Date Venue
Face to Face day 1 29th January 2021 Online
Face to Face day 2 17th March 2021 Venue TBC
Face to Face day 3 15th June 2021 Venue TBC
Face to Face day 4 21st September 2021 Venue TBC
Face to Face day 5 16th November 2021 Venue TBC

Autumn Term 2020


Event Date Venue
Face to Face day 1 Tuesday 17th November 2020 Online
Face to Face day 2 Thursday 18th March 2021 Chesterford Research Park – TBC
Face to Face day 3 Tuesday 8th June 2021 Chesterford Research Park – TBC
Face to Face day 4 Wednesday 29th September 2021 Chesterford Research Park – TBC
Face to Face day 5 Tuesday 9th November 2021 Chesterford Research Park – TBC

Summer Term 2020

Venue: The Nucleus, Chesterford Research Park, Little Chesterford, Saffron Walden, CB10 1TS
The course starts within an online induction w/c 13th of July 2020, followed by five face-to-face sessions:

Event Date Time
Induction part 2 Thursday 1st October 2020 Twilight (4-6pm)
Day 2 Wednesday 13th January 2021 Full day (9.30-4pm approx.)
Day 3 Tuesday 20th April 2021 Full day (9.30-4pm approx.)
Day 4 Thursday 17th June 2021 Full day (9.30-4pm approx.)
Day 5 Wednesday 22nd September 2021 Full day (9.30-4pm approx.)

Spring 2020

The programme consists of 5 face to face days as full days running from approximately 9.30am-4pm:

Venue: The Nucleus, Chesterford Research Park, Little Chesterford, Saffron Walden, CB10 1TS

Event Date Venue
Face to Face day 1 Wednesday 11th March 2020 The Nucleus
Face to Face day 2 Tuesday 16th June 2020 (To be rescheduled) The Nucleus
Face to Face day 3 Thursday 24th September 2020 The Nucleus
Face to Face day 4 Wednesday 11th November 2020 The Nucleus
Face to Face day 5 Monday 18th January 2021 The Nucleus

Autumn 2019

Please note that these cohorts have already started and the dates are for reference only.

Venue: Girton College, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0JG

Event Date
Face to Face day 1 Monday 14th October 2019
Face to Face day 2 Thursday 6th February 2020
Face to Face day 3 Wednesday 6th May 2020 (To be rescheduled)
Face to Face day 4 Thursday 17th September 2020
Face to Face day 5 Friday 16th October 2020


Venue: Enfield Professional Centre

Event Date
Day 1 Thursday 4th February 2021
Day 2 Wednesday 24th March 2021
Day 3 Wednesday 28th April 2021
Day 4 Thursday 10th June 2021 tbc
Day 5 Friday 2nd July 2021 tbc

The cost of this programme is £1450.

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.

Passed your Gateway Assessment?

If you’ve already passed your Gateway Assessment and been offered a place on the NPQH programme you will now need to apply for your NPQH. NPQH programmes are not all the same, and here at Leadership East we are especially proud of our extensive experience of delivering high-quality NPQH programmes for over 10 years. The Leadership East partnership provides you with professional development which is of the highest quality while remaining excellent value-for-money for you / your organisation.
To help you succeed with your NPQH, Leadership East offers you:
  • Access to over 10 years’ experience delivering high-quality NPQH programmes
  • Credible, committed and capable facilitators and practising school leaders
  • A flexible programme to meet your development needs
  • An individual named contact to support you throughout your learning journey
  • A dedicated helpline as well as IT support
  • Personalised coaching and support
  • Up-to-date, practical information

A downloadable version of this information can be accessed here.

Leadership East – How we use your data

Agreement for data collection and analysis

In registering /applying for a place on the NPQ programme, you are agreeing to the collection and sharing of personal data*, such as your name and TRN, with the Department for Education (DfE).

You can find more information about DfE at

The information below explains:

  • what data will be collected
  • why data is being shared with DfE
  • other opportunities to contribute to the evaluation
  • what makes it lawful to collect and share the data with DfE.
  • how this affects you
  • security and confidentiality information
  • contact details for further information.

What personal data will we collect and share with DfE and its approved contractors?

For each participant, we will collect and share the following (referred to as personal data) with DfE:

*Personal data:

  • Name of applicant/participant
  • Teacher Reference Number
  • Current job role/post
  • Date of Birth

*Special category data:

  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Disability (if applicable)

What is the purpose of the data sharing?

Personal data will be collected and shared with DfE for the purpose of research, evaluation, planning and statistical analysis. This will enable DfE to:

  • monitor performance of each provider
  • deliver Quality Assurance (QA) of each provider
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the NPQ programme
  • understand the characteristics of who accesses, completes and benefits from it and in what way, and who does not
  • identify good practice and opportunities to improve the NPQ delivery model
  • understand the outcomes for participants, schools and pupils and any opportunities to improve these outcomes.

The evaluation will directly inform the review of performance and quality of delivery by providers, any improvements to NPQ programme policy and delivery and the outcomes for future participants.

How will DfE use the personal data we share with them?

We will collect and share personal data from your application form and from your NPQ journey (e.g. if you withdraw, complete etc.) with DfE (and Quality Assurance Agency, and external evaluator working on its behalf).

DfE will:

  1. Analyse the personal data from your application form to understand the characteristics of teachers applying for the NPQ (and thereby identifying other groups who are not applying). DfE will use this information to explore the characteristics of participants who withdraw, drop out or complete and any common factors e.g. NPQ level, region.
  2. Link and match this data with other information that DfE already collects or holds (e.g. School Workforce Census, national statistics for schools, Edubase) or data to which it is lawfully permitted access e.g. regional economic information. This enables analysis of the longer-term benefits of the NPQ programme, e.g. how many people progress/are promoted, how long it takes and if there are other factors that help or hinder this progress. This means we can avoid asking you to give us the same information twice. DfE will not share any information that will identify you, or any other third party, unless it is required to do so by law.

How will I be asked to contribute to the evaluation?

  1. At the start of the programme, on behalf of DfE, we will invite all participants to complete an online evaluation survey about your expectations and reasons for applying. At the end of the NPQ programme, we will ask you to reflect on your use of what you have learnt. The responses to the survey will be treated in confidence and we will not see them. During the programme, the Quality Assurance Agency will invite you to complete a survey asking you about the content of the NPQ and its delivery.
  2. In addition, DfE (or a contracted organisation working on its behalf) may contact you to ask you to assist with their research by taking part in telephone or face-to-face interviews; the purpose of this is to provide a richer understanding of your views and experiences. Please note that, if contacted, you will be under no obligation to take part and you can change your mind at any time. If you do agree to participate, you will not be identified or identifiable in any results of the evaluation.

What makes our sharing of your personal data with DfE lawful?

Any additional sharing of personal data provided on your application form will only take place where the law allows it.

We will share personal data with DfE for the purposes of research, evaluation, planning and statistical analysis that is in the public interest.

The Data Protection Act 2018 states ‘personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and in particular, shall not be processed unless:

  1. At least one of the conditions in Section 8 of the Data Protection Act 2018 is met, and
  2. In the case of special category personal data, at least one of the conditions in Schedule 1 is also met’

The conditions under which it is lawful for this to happen are:

  • The Part 2, Chapter 2 Lawfulness of processing: In Article 6(1) of the GDPR (lawfulness of processing), the reference in point (e) to processing of personal data that is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of the controller’s official authority includes processing of personal data that is necessary for part (d)the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department.
  • The Schedule 1 Part 2, 6 (2) condition: Statutory etc and government purposes for collecting and processing sensitive personal data on a participant’s disability is condition and racial or ethnic origin. (b)the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department.

How does this affect you/participants?

  • Our sharing of this personal data with DfE (or its contracted partner working on its behalf) will have no influence on the outcome of your application or your participation in the NPQ and the findings of DfE’s research will not identify you or any other applicants.
  • Any reported findings will appear at an aggregated level with no individual applicant, participant or school identified OR identifiable.

Security and confidentiality

Any personal data shared with DfE (and organisations acting on its behalf) will be handled securely and confidentially. It will be used for the purposes of monitoring, quality assurance and evaluation of NPQ programme, and for related research on recruitment, personal development, leadership and retention.

Further information

For further information on how we process your personal data for the purposes of the NPQ, please contact: The Director, Leadership East at

If you would like to know more about what personal data is being collected and how this is used by DfE to improve the NPQ programme, please contact:

The evaluation surveys will be conducted by an external contractor employed by DfE and managed by Zoey Breuer. If you have any questions about how DfE will use your information for research and evaluation purposes, please contact:


Please note that applications for the Spring 2021 intake are now closed.