The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is the first choice qualification for anyone aspiring to be a headteacher or principal. This course will challenge and develop talented leaders who can deliver educational excellence.

The programme provides national recognition of leadership development and professional achievement through the National College for Teaching and Leadership. 

Who can apply?

The programme is aimed at senior school leaders with an aspiration to move into a headship position.

The programme structure

Participants will complete three essential modules and two elective modules. Each module will take approximately 50 hours of study time, but as this is a self-directed course, this is flexible to meet individual needs.

The course also involves:

• a placement at a different school for a minimum of nine days
• a whole school project, derived from the school improvement plan
• four face-to-face development days.

The programme content

Essential Modules

• Succeeding in Headship
• Leading an effective School
• Leading and Improving Teaching

Elective modules

• Curriculum Development
• Achievement for all
• Closing the gap
• Using data and evidence to improve performance
• Leading staff and effective teams
• Leading change for improvement
• School Improvement through effective partnerships

The final assessment

For the final competency based assessment, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills in practice. This will be showcased through:

• The completion of ‘school improvement’ work (undertaken in your own and other school settings) 
• Presentation skills
• Interview skills
• Decision making (in test environments)


The programme is delivered over a 12 month period. Participants can flex their study around home and work commitments, completing the programme at their convenience, which will take between 8 - 18 months.

Application process

You must formally register your intention to submit an application for NPQH by applying online on the National College website.