National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL)

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The information below can also be found on the GOV.UK website. Our Teaching School partner, Learners First is one of the accredited NPQ providers. Learners First will be delivering NPQEL from Spring 2021. Please visit their website or the GOV.UK website for more information as well as details of how to apply.

Learners First NPQEL Programme

Who is NPQEL for?

NPQEL is for leaders who are, or who aspire to be, an executive headteacher or CEO of a MAT with responsibility for leading across several schools.

What you will learn on NPQEL?

Each of the NPQs feature the same 6 content areas as below, however the knowledge and skills within a content area increases in sophistication, depth and breadth progressively through each of the NPQ levels. Study can last between 2 academic terms and 18 months, depending on your provider.

During this time you will:

  • develop knowledge and skills across 6 content areas, which set out what an effective executive leader should know and be able to do
  • have the opportunity to develop up to 7 important leadership behaviours, which set out how an effective leader should operate
  • 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:

  • strategy and improvement
  • teaching and curriculum excellence
  • leading with impact
  • working in partnership
  • managing resources and risks
  • increasing capability

Leadership Behaviours

In addition to learning about the 6 content areas, as part of the NPQH, participants are required to evaluate their strengths in each of the following 7 behaviours, at the beginning of their NPQ, and plan how they will develop these during their study programme. Descriptors of the behaviours are as follows:-


The best leaders are self-motivated and take a creative, problem-solving approach to new challenge.


The best leaders readily engage with, and invest responsibility in, those who are best placed to improve outcomes.

Personal Drive

The best leaders are self-motivated and take a creative, problem-solving approach to new challenge.


The best leaders remain courageous and positive in challenging, adverse or uncertain circumstances.


The best leaders will know themselves and their teams, continually reflect on their own and others’ practices, and understand how best to approach difficult or sensitive issues.


The best leaders act with honesty, transparency and always in the interests of the school and its pupils.


The best leaders respect the rights, views, beliefs and faiths of pupils, colleagues and stakeholders.

NPQEL Assessment

The assessment requirements outlined below are applicable to participants starting their NPQEL study programme from January 2018.

NPQEL comprises 2 assessment tasks. 

You will:

  • design a sustainable business development strategy for your organisation, analysing the benefits, costs and risks of different options
  • 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.

Assessment Content Areas

Part A

  • Strategy and Improvement
  • Teaching and Curriculum Excellence
  • Leading with Impact
  • Working in Partnership

Part B

  • Managing Resources and Risks
  • Increasing Capability

Programme Delivery

NPQEL is delivered over the course of at least two academic terms, ensuring that participants are afforded sufficient time and development opportunities to successfully meet the assessment criteria. The structure of the NPQEL and teaching methods will vary between providers, but will include:

  • on-the-job leadership training
  • challenge and support – through a coach and/or mentor
  • access to high-quality resources, drawing on up-to-date research and evidence
  • professional development from and with credible peers
  • opportunities for structured reflection

Programme Cost

The cost of NPQEL with Learners First and other national accredited providers will vary depending on the location and context of the provider.

NPQEL Applications

Please contact your chosen listed accredited provider. Completed application forms should be returned by e-mail to your chosen licensed provider.

Apply By

Visit websites of licensed providers as detailed in the list of accredited providers on the GOV.UK website.

NPQEL Enquiries

If you have any queries regarding the new NPQEL programme, please contact Catherine Thompson in The Humber Teaching School office in the first instance:

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