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National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders (NPQML)


Excellent collaboration with facilitators and peers in a supportive environment.

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This programme gives middle leaders the opportunity to develop their skills, confidence and knowledge so they can drive successful team performance and improve classroom practice.

The NPQML is part of a suite of courses that comprise the Leadership Curriculum licensed by the Department for Education (DfE) providing national recognition of this qualification.

Suitable For

NPQML is aimed at individuals with responsibility for leading a team, including key stage, subject or curriculum leaders, heads of department, special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo), pastoral leaders or a middle leader with cross-school responsibilities e.g. a Specialist Leader of Education.

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Bookings are now being taken for our cohort starting in October 2020, please see dates below:

  • Oct 2020 (6th Oct 2020, 2nd Dec 2020, 4th Feb 2021, 23rd March 2021, 10th June 2021)

For further details and the application form, please contact Debbie Rose on or 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.


Sessions are delivered across the Yorkshire and Humber region.


Courses are facilitated by current or former senior leaders or headteachers.


£1,000 (inclusive of final assessment)


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Learning Outcomes

Programme Structure

 You will learn through a blended learning approach comprising approximately 160 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.
  • One half day and four full face-to-face development days, including peer and facilitated learning, reading, reflection and online learning.
  • Completion of a two part school improvement based project, working with your team to:
  • Improve pupil progress and attainment
  • Improve team capability


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:

  • Manage and analyse performance data to evaluate progress, identify trends, define team priorities and develop improvement strategies (for example, in relation to disadvantaged pupils or those with particular needs)
  • Implement successful change at team level 


Plus Icon Teaching and Curriculum Excellence

You will learn how to:

  • Grow excellent, evidence-based teaching in a team and a curriculum that develops pupils academically and prepares them for adult life
  • Improve the progress, attainment and behaviour of all pupils, including those who are disadvantaged or have particular needs (for example, Pupil Premium, SEND, EAL or the most able pupils) 


Plus Icon Leading with Impact

You will learn how to:

  • Anticipate other peoples’ views or feelings and moderate your approach accordingly
  • Adopt different leadership styles to ensure the team meets its objectives
  • Present, communicate or defend challenging messages confidently and positively to a range of audiences


Plus Icon Working in Partnership

You will learn how to:

  • Realise the benefits of collaborating with others, including teachers, teaching assistants and non-teaching staff, other schools, parents/carers and other organisations
  • Support your team to build and sustain relationships with others which develop and share good practice and improve performance
Plus Icon Managing Resources and Risks

You will learn how to:

  • Deploy staff, financial and educational resources within a team efficiently, to enhance pupil progress and attainment
  • Manage risks within a team effectively (for example, in relation to staffing, finances or teacher workload), using a risk register
  • Deliver a safe environment for pupils and staff
Plus Icon Increasing Capability

You will learn how to:

  • Hold others to account, line manage and evaluate performance effectively
  • Support all members of your team with appropriate, targeted opportunities for professional development, including newly-qualified teachers, teaching assistants, and stronger or weaker performers
  • Recognise their own strengths and weaknesses and identify learning linked to your needs
  • Evaluate the impact of professional development on teacher development and pupils’ outcomes

Final Assessment

Working with your team you will need to lead a school improvement project, aimed at:


(a) improving pupil progress and attainment

(b) improving your team's capability

This project will last at least two terms


Themes assessed

 Part (a) Part (b)
 Strategy and Improvement  Managing Resources and Risks
 Teaching and Curriculum Excellence  Increasing Capability
Leading with Impact  
Working in Parnership  


Your project will illustrate how you have used your learning and developed your leadership behaviours in order to realise improvements in pupil progress and attainment and building your team's capability.

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 cover the initiation, implementation and evaluation stages of the project and has a word limit of 4,500.

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

You will need to show you can:

  • Make successful and sustainable improvement in your school.
  • Use the experience to reflect upon and improve your own leadership skills and behaviours


NPQML and Master's Level Qualifications

Successful NPQML participants could further develop their learning to achieve 40 credit points at Master’s level. This can be done by enrolling onto a 40 credit point module entitled Learning from Professional Development, the assessment for which is a 3,500-word reflective assignment which links the work done for the NPQML 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 40 credit module towards that qualification.  For suitable applicants, there may be an opportunity to achieve 60 credit points at Master’s level, following a discussion with the course tutor.  A 20% fee reduction applies for this module in recognition of your success as a NPQML 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 0113 812 6515. 


Delegates’ feedback on what was good about the course: 

“Excellent collaboration with facilitators and peers in a supportive environment.” 

“I have learnt some much on this course. The styles of leadership have been shared at school and also the coaching techniques.” 

“Good strategies for dealing with situations in school.”

“I gained ideas about how to use coaching in my leadership.” 

“Reflecting on my own practice as a middle leader and how I can move forward.”

“Made me more aware of the variety of styles, when they are appropriate and most effective to use.”

“Developed my confidence in leadership.” 

"I now feel better equipped to support my school as a middle leader."

"I am a much more confident leader. The project I am leading has improved student progress and has lead to...a school school policy change."

"I now feel more confident in managing and leading change.."

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Case Study - Chris Whitworth

The NPQML will challenge what you think about yourself and others, and help you develop into a more confident middle leader.

Chris Whitworth, Head of Computing, Castleford Academy


Having been an ICT teacher for six years at Castleford Academy, when the opportunity for head of department came up in 2013 I jumped at the chance.

As part of my application for head of department, I asked for some additional training in middle management and to lead a small department. Later on that year, I was accepted on to the NPQML course, run within school and in partnership with National College for Teaching and Leadership.


The face-to-face sessions led by facilitators in school were inspirational. You knew that their knowledge of the course was second to none, and meeting staff from other schools to discuss the trials and tribulations of leadership was eye-opening.

Having the time to reflect on my own practice was vital for my development as a middle leader, and the reassurance and feedback from others really helped me progress though the course.

The final assessment was daunting. However, there was plenty of advice from the facilitators, who helped me to focus and assured me I was on the right track.


The NPQML course allowed me to consider different leadership styles and identify my strengths and areas for development as a middle leader. It challenged my preconceptions and equipped me with the knowledge and skills to develop my own leadership style. Throughout the course, I was able to trial a number of techniques and then feedback on the results in the face-to-face sessions.

The biggest benefit for me was the set times for reflection on leadership. This is something I usually struggle to find time to do, but I was able to discuss the findings and felt supported in my development as a leader.

I now feel confident in leading my department through the changes in the curriculum and supporting staff in their own career development.

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