Who is NPQSL for?

The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) is a new qualification that provides national recognition of your leadership development and professional achievement as a senior leader. NPQSL is aimed at experienced team leaders with wider responsibilities traditionally associated with senior leadership roles.

It is suitable for:

  • Deputy or assistant heads
  • Experienced senior leaders who wish to further their knowledge and skills
  • Experienced middle leaders who are ambitious for, and seeking promotion to, a senior leadership role
  • Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE)
  • Senior leaders working in schools and academies who are not qualified teachers (for example bursars, HR officers)
What is the NPQSL programme?

The qualification is part of the National College’s new leadership curriculum, which offers more flexible development opportunities to support leaders at every stage of their career. The curriculum has five levels, with each level offering a choice of modules that can be combined to pursue a nationally recognised qualification or studied alone. Levels one to three are currently available.

NPQSL sits at level two of the leadership curriculum. It is designed to support participants in becoming highly effective senior leaders with the skills, confidence and knowledge to contribute to the strategic development of the school or organisation as part of the senior leadership team.

To achieve the qualification, participants will need to complete two essential modules ("Closing the gap" and "Succeeding in senior leadership") and two elective modules chosen from a wide range of options.

Included in the cost of the programme will be:

  • Online materials for the two essential modules and two elective modules
  • One face to face day for each module
  • Online discussions and support
  • A 360 degree diagnostic
What modules are available as part of the NPQSL qualification?

The modules provide access to a wide set of high quality leadership resources to challenge and support participants at senior leadership level.

All modules reflect the recent and significant changes in schools and national policy.

Essential modules

Closing the Gap

Succeeding in Senior Leadership

Elective modules

Improving the quality of teaching

Research and development in teaching

Effective whole school management

School self-evaluation

Leading professional development

Leading change for improvement

Leading in a diverse system
Effective partnership working

The modules for the Senior Leadership pathway can also be grouped within the three key strands of the leadership curriculum:


Educational Excellence


Operational Management


Strategic Leadership

From September 2013 you may choose to study individual elective modules to improve your skills and knowledge in a particular area without undertaking the full qualification. These modules can be “banked” for a period of time until you wish to undertake the full qualification. Essential modules are only available as part of the full NPQSL qualification.

Each module is made up of:

  • One face to face professional development day
  • Online learning with peers through online discussions
  • Individual online learning
  • Development work for the final assessed school improvement project

Each module can be completed in approximately 40 hours although you can spend longer using the online materials for your own learning if you so wish.

How is the programme assessed?

Although individual modules are not assessed, there will be the requirement of one extended school improvement task that relates to your leadership role and to your school’s improvement priorities. This extended school improvement tasks will need to draw on learning from the two essential modules. In addition a paper summarising learning from the elective modules will be required.

The work should be undertaken over at least two terms and enable participants to show evidence of the impact of their leadership.

How long does it take?

The qualification can take between 6 and 18 months to complete with each module requiring between 40 and 50 hours of learning. The majority of senior leaders are likely to spend 12 months completing the programme.

Where will the programme be held?

The programme will be delivered at Woodside High School, White Hart Lane, London, N11 5QJ, .  Other learning takes place through online discussions and online self-study.

When will the programme be held?

The dates of the NPQSL course are as follows:

  • December 3rd 2014 - "Closing the gap"
  • January 21st 2015 - "Succeeding in senior leadership"
  • February 11th 2015 - "Succeeding in senior leadership"
  • March 25th 2015 - "Succeeding in senior leadership"

All sessions run from 15:45 - 18:45.

Are places limited?

There is no limit on the number of candidates who can participate in the programme but there are a limited number of scholarships available each year.

How much does NPQSL cost?

The NPQSL qualification is available at a cost of £930. This is below the National College recommended retail price of £1,400. This is a non-refundable charge and must be paid once your place has been confirmed.

Is funding available?

To help with the costs of the programme, the National College are offering a range of scholarships. The likelihood is that scholarships for NPQSL will be awarded on a “first come first served basis” and participants will be able to indicate that they require a scholarship when they register for the programme.

There are two types of scholarships available to participants from Maintained schools.
(Maintained schools include community schools and colleges, foundation schools and colleges, voluntary-aided schools and colleges, voluntary-controlled schools and colleges and local authority nursery schools, non-maintained special schools, pupil referral units, secure units, academies, free schools and advisers/consultants employed by local authorities or diocesan authorities)

  1. Small Schools
    For participants from schools with a hundred pupils or less on roll at the last January return, full scholarship are available
  2. Part scholarship
    For participants from Maintained schools with more than 100 pupils on roll part scholarships of £210 are available
  3. Non-maintained / independent school or not employed in a school
    No scholarships available.

Some participants applying to join the NPQSL programme may have already completed the National College Leadership Pathways programme. If a participant has successfully completed Leadership Pathways, he or she will be entitled to an exemption of one elective module at Level 2. In practice this will mean the participant will only need to complete the 2 essential modules and 1 elective module in order to move forward to assessment. However, since the participant will have access to the second elective module, we regret there can be no reduction in cost if an exemption is claimed.


To register an interest in the NPQSL please email for more information.