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National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)


Taking part has given me the confidence and knowledge to be a successful leader, focusing on the aspects of teaching and learning that have the greatest impact.

Martin Lumb, Headteacher, Hunslet Carr Primary School
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This programme 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.

NPQH is part of a suite of courses that comprise the Leadership Curriculum licensed by the Department for Education, providing national recognition of this qualification.

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Bookings are now being taken for cohorts starting in:

February 2020, (12/02/20, 30/04/20, 16/06/20, 28/09/20, 30/11/20) The application deadline is 5pm, 13th January 2020

To apply for the programme, you must be deemed ready to start the programme following what is known as a ‘gateway assessment’. This means all applications received will be assessed and submitted to rigorous national moderation procedures.

For further details and the application form, please contact Louise Turner on louise.turner@carnegieleaders.org.uk or telephone 0113 812 6137.

Suitable For

NPQH is aimed at senior school leaders with an aspiration to become a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school, including a head of school with cross school responsibilities e.g. a National Leader of Education.


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 headteachers.


£2,400 (inclusive of final assessment)

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Learning Outcomes

Programme Structure

You will learn through a blended learning approach comprising approximately 320 learning hours, facilitated through:

  • Workplace learning and practice activities, including a placement in a contrasting school, with support and guidance from a workplace mentor
  • An entitlement to high quality coaching, enabling you to develop your 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:
    • Leading a whole-school change programme (own school)
    • Designing an action plan to meet your placement school's resourcing and capability needs

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


Plus Icon Strategy and Improvement

You will learn how to:

  • Anticipate changes in the external and strategic environment
  • Develop an evidence-based organisational strategy, in collaboration with the governing board
  • Lead a successful whole-school change programme
Plus Icon Teaching and Curriculum Excellence

You will learn how to:

  • Lead and grow excellent teaching in a school
  • Support pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and particular needs in the school to achieve high standards, including Pupil Premium, SEND, EAL or the most able pupils
  • Systematically review the cumulative impact of initiatives on teacher workload and make proportionate and pragmatic demands on staff
Plus Icon Leading with Impact

You will learn how to:

  • Distribute responsibility and accountability throughout the school to improve performance
  • Be an inspiring leader in a range of different situations
  • Communicate and negotiate with different people effectively to make progress on objectives 
Plus Icon Working in Partnership

You will learn how to:

  • Use different models of partnership working to improve educational provision, sustain a culture of mutual challenge and learn from others (including parents/carers, the wider community and other organisation)
  • Lead an effective partnership which brings benefits to the school and wider education system, particularly in your school’s area(s) of expertise or specialism
Plus Icon Managing Resources and Risks

You will learn how to:

  • Balance a school’s strategic or educational priorities with financial efficiency
  • Implement accountability arrangements to manage resources and risks effectively and in line with statutory requirements (where applicable, fulfilling the Accounting Officer role as defined in the Academies Financial Handbook)
Plus Icon Increasing Capability

You will learn how to:

  • Hold all staff to account for performance using performance management, appraisal, misconduct and grievance systems
  • Create and sustain an environment where all staff are encouraged to develop their own knowledge and skills, and support each other
  • Anticipate capability requirements or gaps in the school and design strategies to fill them

Final Assessment

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

(1) Leading a whole-school change programme

(2) Designing an action plan to meet your placement school's resourcing and capability needs

Project 1 will last at least two terms; Project 2 will involve undertaking a placement in a contrasting school of at least 9 days.

Themes assessed

Project 1 (Own school)

Project 2 (Placement school)

Strategy and Improvement

Managing Resources and Risks

Teaching and Curriculum Excellence

Increasing Capability

Leading with Impact


Working in Partnership


Your projects will illustrate how you have used your learning and developed your leadership behaviours in order to:

Lead a change programme at a whole school level, to improve pupil progress and attainment.

Undertake a placement in a contrasting school, lasting at least 9 working days.

Research, analyse and evaluate another school's projected resource and capability challenges, designing an action plan to address these.

Present your plan and findings to the governing boards of the schools involved in both projects, gathering and acting upon their feedback.

At the end of the programme you will need to submit a written account of your work to us, along with any additional supporting documentation. Your written account will include the design, implementation and evaluation stages of Project 1. The word limit for Task 1 is 4,000 words and Task 2 is 2,500

Your project will be assessed against the published assessment criteria in accordance with the DfE mark scheme.

NPQH and Master's Level Qualifications

Successful NPQH participants could further develop their learning to achieve 60 credit points at Master’s level.  This can be done by enrolling onto a 60 credit point module entitled Learning from Professional Development, the assessment for which is a 5,000-word reflective assignment which links the work done for the NPQH with the academic literature.  You could then apply to join a Master’s degree (which requires a total of 180 credits), such as the MA Education (available Full-time, or Part-time, or via Distance Learning) which has an optional Leadership and Management pathway within it, and use the 60 credit module towards that qualification. A 20% fee reduction applies for this module in recognition of your success as a NPQH graduate with Carnegie Leaders in Learning.   

For more information about the Learning from Professional Development module, please email the course tutor, Dr Stephen Newman who can answer any queries that you may have regarding gaining credits towards a Master’s degree or call on 113 812 6515.


‘Content really relevant and the range of supporting reading was useful’ 

‘Guest speaker giving a true insight into the ‘normality’ of headship’ 

‘Really interesting to meet colleagues and discuss topics that are critical to leadership’ 

‘Inspiring guest speaker, excellent, relevant information from facilitators’ 

‘Focusing on effective ways to monitor and improve teaching and learning in schools’ 


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Case Study - Martin Lumb

Taking part has given me the confidence and knowledge to be a successful leader, focusing on the aspects of teaching and learning that have the greatest impact.

Martin Lumb, Headteacher, Hunslet Carr Primary School


I spent eight years teaching in an inner city primary school. During this time, I had the opportunity to teach as an AST for the local council, supporting teachers in the use of interactive technology. In addition, I had the privilege of teaching primary school children in Cologne, Germany, and in Francistown, Botswana.

In 2000, I moved to Hunslet Carr Primary School where I spent five years as a deputy head. In 2013, I started the NPQH programme and in September 2015 I took over the role of headteacher.


The facilitators on the course were exceptional in their knowledge and understanding of the course content.

Through the use of the National College for Teaching and Leadership website, I would make notes and comments on my reading that were then read and challenged by facilitators. These challenges ensured I considered the reading from every angle and linked it to my own experiences in school and on placement.

The other benefit of attending the course were the relationships I was able to develop on the face-to-face days. Being placed in groups with leaders from local schools meant I never felt alone during the course, something that really helped me when it came to my final assessment.


Throughout the course, I was challenged to consider my leadership styles and to develop them so that I became an effective leader.

During my placements, I was able to put into practice the ideas and techniques I had read about, enabling me to experiment in a safe and supported environment.

Many of the techniques used on the face-to-face days I was able to use in my own placement settings, and I have since passed these on to other leaders within my cluster of schools.

Ultimately, participating in the course has given me the experience and confidence to take the step into headship. The final assessment day was excellent preparation for my headteacher interview, ensuring my answers focused on the impact I have had in my own school.

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