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National Professional Qualification for Senior Leaders (NPQSL)


Acquired new job as Executive Lead of Early Years (between two schools). Executive HT said in feedback my strongest answers in interview where when I related my answers to my learning from NPQSL’

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This programme gives senior leaders the confidence and knowledge to develop the skills needed to lead whole-school issues.

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

Suitable for

NPQSL is aimed at senior leaders or those aspiring to become senior leaders with cross-school responsibilities. These include experienced middle leaders, assistant heads, deputy heads, special educational needs co-ordinators or those with cross school responsibilities eg a Director of a Teaching School Alliance.

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

  • February 2020 (11th Feb 2020, 29th Apr 2020, 18th June 2020, 30th Sep 2020, 23rd Nov 2020)

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


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.


£1,300 (inclusive of final assessment)


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Learning Outcomes

Programme Structure

You will learn through a blended learning approach comprising approximately 230 learning hours, facilitated through:

  • Workplace learning and practice activities, including support and guidance from a workplace mentor.
  • An entitlement to high quality coaching, enabling you to develop your practice.
  • One half day and four full face-to-face development days, including peer and facilitated learning and reading, reflection and online learning.
  • Completion of a two part school improvement based project, working across the school to:
    • Reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment
    • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness if teaching

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:

  • Analyse performance data to identify the causes of variation within a school and against comparative schools (for example, in relation to national benchmarks, historical performance or between different groups)
  • Ensure data collected is necessary, proportionate and manageable for staff
  • Work with the governing board effectively to identify and agree approaches to school priorities
  • Design and implement sustainable change across a school 
Plus Icon Teaching and Curriculum Excellence

You will learn how to:

  • Use a range of techniques to gather evidence on teaching quality and the impact of interventions across a school
  • Reduce variation within the school and against comparative schools by improving pupil progress, attainment and behaviour
  • Develop and maintain a rich, high-quality school curriculum
Plus Icon Leading with Impact

You will learn how to:

  • Lead, motivate and influence others, including beyond the line management chain, to deliver whole-school objectives
  • Develop a communications plan that promotes or defends the school’s performance, policies or decisions effectively
Plus Icon Working in Partnership

You will learn how to:

  • Identify a range of local and national partners that can support school improvement
  • Put in place systems, processes or structures which facilitate knowledge transfer and shared best practice within and beyond the school
  • Identify the most effective partnerships for improving pupil progress 
Plus Icon Managing Resources and Risk

You will learn how to:

  • Deploy resources across a school effectively and efficiently to deliver school priorities (for example, in relation to the use of Pupil Premium funding)
  • Monitor the use of resources across a school, identifying opportunities and pressures (for example, in relation to teacher workload)
  • Systematically identify, manage and mitigate risks to the school, its pupils and staff
Plus Icon Increasing Capability

You will learn how to:

  • Identify excellent professional development practice
  • Identify talent within an organisation and put in place arrangements or tools to develop and retain it
  • Design professional development strategies, which engage all staff (including new/recently qualified teachers) and anticipate future professional development needs

Final Assessment

Working across the school you will need to lead a school improvement project, aimed at:

(a) reducing variation pupil progress and attainment

(b) improving the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching 

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 Partnership



Your project will illustrate how you have used your learning and developed your leadership behaviours in order to reduce variation pupil progress and attainment and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching across the school.

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 design, implementation and evaluation stages of the project and has a word limit of 5,000 words.

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

NPQSL 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 50% 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:

‘Great insight into how to become a good leader and promote change’ 

‘Acquired new job as Executive Lead of Early Years (between two schools). Executive HT said in feedback my strongest answers in interview where when I related my answers to my learning from NPQSL’ 

‘Really enjoyed the guest speakers – up to date, relevant practice’ 

‘Very well led – guest speakers were engaging. Lots of time to reflect and evaluate’ 

‘Lots of opportunities to collaborate with other leaders on practical activities and scenarios. Good balance of research and real examples’ 

‘The structure of the course allowed me to gradually build my knowledge and put things into practice’

'It has been an enriching experience'

'NPQSL has been incredibly useful - project has been relevant and had genuine benefit to my school, the students and me. Thank you!'

The VLE has really interesting, informative and relevant case studies'

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Case Study - Lottie Ransom

The NPQSL is a must for any middle or senior leader looking to broaden their understanding of educational leadership, impact-orientated practice and successful whole-school development. Having the time to reflect, debate and consider what we do every day away from the school setting provides the right climate for both school and self-development.

Lottie Ransom, Assistant Headteacher and SENCO, St Thomas CE (VC) Primary School, Huddersfield


Having qualified as a teacher with a degree in Primary Education from Leeds Beckett University in 2009, I began my teaching career in a large primary school where I led geography and the global dimension and taught Year 3. After two years, I became a Year 5/6 teacher at another large multicultural school. The following year, I became phase leader and then literacy leader. In 2012, I moved to Year 2 and took up the post of Key Stage 1 leader, while retaining my position as literacy leader.

I began the NPQSL in 2013 while completing a masters degree in education. Following the completion of the course in 2014, I gained a post as assistant headteacher and SENCO with teacher governor responsibilities at a larger primary school.


After three years in middle management, the course provided me with the understanding of how crucial it is to carefully plan and prepare for a move to senior leadership. I was given the opportunity to really develop my middle leadership skills to a more sophisticated, whole-school, people-centred and impact-orientated level.

Working with colleagues from different settings with a wealth of experiences allowed for opportunities to reflect, share and challenge our opinions, aims and philosophies in a supportive and collaborative environment away from the familiarity of school.

I have continued to study throughout my career, but the quality of resources we were provided with during both the taught days and online modules really brought me up to pace with the changing make-up of education in the UK and with where school and business leadership has come from and where it needs to go.


I had experience of leading whole-school initiatives and developments, but the NPQSL course brought a higher level of rigour and challenge.

The impact-orientated goal of the Closing the Gap module required me to show my specific group of children had improved, whatever I chose to do. My project focused on improving reading and writing standards in Key Stage 1 and saw a raise in attainment and progress, not only within my focus group but for all Key Stage results, which increased by 25 per cent.

The Leading a Whole School Improvement module I led saw teaching standards improve across literacy to at least good and often outstanding, and saw results in Year 6 increase by 28 per cent. Once completed and shared with the governors, the practice and standards I implemented became common practice.

Everything we did was specifically chosen for our children, teachers and community but rooted in solid theory and research. Consequently, this meant there was very little argument against any of the changes and staff bought into our new culture of high expectations and challenge. Having achieved a successful whole-school development, I had a much greater understanding of the complexity of leading people and raising standards, preparing me for a senior leadership post.

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