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National Professional Qualification for Executive Leaders (NPQEL)


Excellent collaboration with facilitators and peers in a supportive environment.

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This programme is the first choice qualification for anyone wishing to develop and hone their strategic, business management and leadership skills to affect sustainable change across several schools, such as a Multi-academy trust or school partnership.

This course will challenge and develop talented executive leaders who can deliver educational excellence across an organisation.

NPQEL is part of a suite of licensed by the Department for Education (DfE), providing national recognition of this qualification. 

Our NPQEL programme was noted as offering exceptional provision, particularly our on-line learning platform and the links established with the University’s Business School to develop and deliver the programme, Performance Review by Tribal, National Professional Qualifications Quality Assurance Agent, in March 2019. 

Suitable For

NPQEL is aimed at existing or aspirant system leaders e.g. Business Leader of a trust, Executive Headteacher Principal or Chief Executive Officer (CEO).


Bookings are now being taken for Cohort 4 starting in February 2021 (09/02/21, 22/04/2021, 29/06/2021, 22/09/2021, 01/12/2021). Deadline for applications is 5pm, 8th January 2021

For further details and an application form, please contact us via email at Carnegie Leaders in Learning or telephone us on 0113 812 6129.


The programme will usually take 12 months to complete, depending on experience. You can flex your study around home and work commitments, completing the qualification at your convenience.


The first session will take place in Leeds with subsequent sessions delivered at a venue to suit the cohort.


Courses are facilitated by current or former executive headteachers, CEOs and system and business leaders.


£2,800 (inclusive of final assessment)

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Learning Outcomes

Programme Structure

You will learn through a blended learning approach comprising approximately 323 learning hours, facilitated through: 

  • Workplace learning and practice activities, including support and guidance from a workplace mentor.
  • An entitlement to high quality coaching, enabling participants to develop their practice.
  • Five face-to-face development days, including peer and facilitated learning and reading, reflection and online learning.
  • Completion of two school improvement based projects:

Designing a sustainable business development strategy for your organisation.

- Leading an improvement project across several schools.

Your Learning

The programme incorporates six key themes and seven leadership behaviours. These set out what a leader should know or be able to do. The themes and behaviours are common to each NPQ level, but the knowledge and skills within them increases in sophistication, depth and breadth progressively through the NPQ levels.

Leadership Behaviours

There are 7 leadership behaviours, common to each NPQ level, which set out how the best leaders operate. These are embedded within the content and practical application of each theme. They are:

  • Commitment
  • Collaboration
  • Personal Drive
  • Resilience
  • Awareness
  • Integrity
  • Respect


Excellent materials, experienced guest speaker, networking’

‘Articles to read (don’t get much time to read much these days, chance to talk with others in similar situations’

‘Very informative, well facilitated discussions. Good ‘real world’ examples’

‘Sharing experiences, quality of discussion/facilitation and knowledge of guest speaker’

‘The guest speaker was excellent, honest and practical advice – thank you’

Plus Icon Strategy & Improvement

You will learn how to:

  • Identify and anticipate changes in the external or strategic environment and understand their impact on different organisations.
  • Design a sustainable business development strategy, whether for growth, stabilisation or specialisation.
  • Lead a programme of significant change across several schools.
Plus Icon Teaching & Curriculum Excellence

You will learn how to:

  • Assess and improve teaching quality, pupil progress and attainment in a range of different contexts, including for disadvantaged pupils or those with particular needs (for example, including Pupil Premium, SEND, EAL or the most able pupils).
  • Deploy school-to-school support systems effectively to improve teaching quality, the school curriculum, pupil progress and attainment. 
Plus Icon Leading with Impact

You will learn how to:

  • Motivate and unite a wide range of people across organisations around visionary or challenging goals. 
  • Act as a credible public advocate for the organisation, promoting and defending its aims, vision and reputation convincingly and robustly.
  • Contribute to local and central government policy making.
Plus Icon Working in Partnership

You will learn how to:

  • Look beyond the education system to identify excellence, expertise or professional advice in other sectors and deploy it to achieve cross-organisational goals.
  • Use school-to-school partnerships and collaboration to drive improvement in a range of different areas (for example, in relation to continuous improvement, governance, project management or financial efficiency). 
  • Expand a school partnership to successfully and prepare a school to join a partnership effectively.
Plus Icon Managing Resources & Risks

You will learn how to:

  • Deploy resources strategically across a number of organisations, to maximise efficiency whilst improving pupil outcomes.
  • Maximise financial resources available, through income generation activities, fundraising, sponsorship and grants. 
  • Hold those with responsibility for the management of resources and risks to account effectively (including fulfilling the Accounting Officer role as defined in the Academies Financial Handbook).
Plus Icon Increasing Capability

You will learn how to:

  • Identify long-term or strategic capability gaps across several schools, in collaboration with the governing board.
  • Deploy staff strategically to increase the organisation’s responsiveness and resilience to change.

Final Assessment

You will need to complete two school improvement projects as part of this qualification:

  1. Design a sustainable business development strategy for your organisation.
  2. Lead an improvement project across several schools.

Themes assessed:

Project 1 Project 2
Strategy & Improvement Strategy & Improvement
Leading with Impact Teaching & Curriculum Excellence
Working in Partnership Leading with Impact
Managing Resources & Risks Working in Partnership
Increasing Capability  

For Project 1 you will demonstrate how you have used your learning and developed your executive leadership behaviours by:

Designing a sustainable business development strategy for your organisation; analysing the benefits, costs and risks of different options e.g. growth and stabilisation.

Presenting your chosen strategy to your governing board/board of trustees, answering their questions and gathering their feedback. Recording your performance to enable you to evidence your presentation skills and reflect on your practice.

For Project 2 you will demonstrate how you have used your learning and developed your executive leadership behaviours by:

Leading a project to improve progress and attainment in several schools. The precise focus of the project should be negotiated and agreed with representatives of the relevant schools. 

Presenting your plans to a group of relevant stakeholders (for example, the relevant governing boards, teachers and community representatives), answering their questions and gathering their feedback. Recording your performance to enable you to evidence your presentation skills and reflect on your practice.

You will need to submit a written account of your work to us, along with any additional supporting documentation. Your written account will cover the design, implementation and evaluation stages of both projects. The word count for Task 1 is 4,000 words and Task 2 is 4,000 words. 

Your projects will be assessed against the published assessment criteria in accordance with the DfE markscheme.

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