The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) is a new qualification providing recognition for your achievement as a senior leader

NPQSL Programme

The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership is a qualification providing recognition for achievement as a senior leader


Up to 1 year consisting of six compulsory face to face days.


Fareham and Ringwood. Also Solent Teaching School Alliance in Havant and North Dorset Teaching School Alliance. See below for dates and venues.




We are now accepting applications for our next course (start date TBC), closing date for applications is 31st July 2020.



As middle leaders move into senior leadership positions, they are required to take a broader and more strategic perspective on the work of the school. Your previous experience may have been quite narrow in its focus (for example leading a particular subject or a specific key stage) and whilst there may have been a broad range of responsibilities these may have been restricted to that narrow focus.

As senior leaders you will now invariably have cross school and whole school responsibilities. The scope, scale and depth of these may require more focussed professional development, tailored to meet quite specific and contextually based job descriptions. As a senior leader you will, however, need to see such responsibilities in the context of the whole school and clearly understand the strategic priorities and direction of the school in order to lead and manage the area(s) you are responsible for. As a senior leader you are generally expected to contribute to all strategic discussions and play your part in implementing all strategic and operational decisions. As a key role model in the school, senior leaders must demonstrate collective responsibility for all decisions made within the leadership team and support these through to implementation.

Senior leaders also have significant operational and management tasks to oversee – tasks that enable a school or academy to run smoothly on a day-to-day basis, for example, leading duty teams, overseeing cover arrangements. They can also be at the operational sharp edge of change and have line management responsibility of a number of middle leaders and/or teams of teachers. Your leadership of other staff is a critical part of the role – and you will often be line managing and performance managing colleagues who have expertise in areas that you do not.

In many schools and academies senior leaders are expected to engage in all strategic discussions with a school’s leadership team and make a contribution to Governing Body meetings. You will need to understand the policy agenda, to scan the further horizons for future initiatives and contribute, in evidenced based way, to decision making. This may be a significant change to both the responsibility and accountability you are used to.

The range of responsibilities for senior leaders in schools and academies varies hugely. As an increasing number of headteachers, for example, take on system leader roles, an increasing number of senior leaders will be required to take responsibility for the day-to-day running of the school. Leadership teams are also becoming more diverse – particularly in the secondary phase. School business managers are often members of this team and in larger secondary schools the team may also contain personnel who manage the site and human resources specialists. Whilst becoming more diverse, over recent months senior teams are becoming smaller in size which may require individuals to take on a broader range of responsibilities. Through distributing leadership, experienced middle leaders in a school may also take on whole school responsibilities – the level two programme would be ideal for such individuals.

Senior leaders also find their role, responsibilities and accountabilities changing if the school or academy is part of a federation, chain or academy group. In these cases senior leaders can have responsibilities beyond the single school.

The course structure involves six face to face days with time between the days for reflection, online learning, peer-peer interaction, and home-school work-based learning. Attendance at all days is required to pass the programme.



Cohort 14 September 2019

Guernsey Cohort September 2019

North Dorset group 2020

Havant group 2019-20

Cohort 16 September 2020

There are 6 content areas for each NPQ level, which set out what a leader should know or be able to do. The 6 content areas are common to each NPQ level, but the knowledge and skills within them increases in sophistication, depth and breadth progressively through the NPQ levels. They are:

  • Strategy and Improvement
  • Teaching and Curriculum Excellence
  • Leading with Impact
  • Working in Partnership
  • Managing Resources and Risks
  • Increasing Capability

Your knowledge and skills will then be assessed through corresponding assessment criteria and assessment tasks, covered below.

Leadership Behaviours

There are 7 leadership behaviours, common to each NPQ level, which set out how the best leaders operate. They are:

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

Interview with successful NPQSL participant

 NPQSL Study time

Cohort 14 September 2019

Guernsey Cohort September 2019

North Dorset group 2020

Havant group 2019-20

Cohort 16 September 2020

Final Assessment should be submitted within 12 months of starting the programme.

NPQSL Assessment Task Description

Project Theme:

Working across the school to a) reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment b) improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching (5,000 words)

Content Areas Assessed:

Part A Part B
Strategy and Improvement Managing Resources and Risks
Teaching and Curriculum Excellence Increasing Capability
Leading with Impact
Working in Partnership

Participants must:

  • Lead an improvement project across their school, lasting at least 2 terms, to reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment (part A) and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching (part B).
  • Submit a written account of the project to the provider for assessment, which aims to evidence the criteria indicated. This should cover the design, implementation and evaluation of the project.
  • Submit supporting documents/material as evidence where indicated below. Supporting evidence must be concise and directly related to the candidate’s project and corresponding assessment criterion.
  • Not exceed a total word count (across both parts of the project) of 5,000, excluding supporting documents or annexes.

*where the candidate is unable to identify one project that meets the needs of both parts a and b, they may complete two separate projects, however the total overall word count of 5,000 still applies.

Content Area NPQSL Assessment Criteria Supporting Documents Required
Strategy and Improvement 1.2.1 Deploys statistical and/or data analysis concepts to identify variation in pupil performance and contributing factors, applying the findings to design of own plans Raw Data Analysis
1.2.2 Evaluates research into, and examples of, implementing change successfully and applies findings to the design and implementation of own plans
Teaching & Curriculum Excellence 2.2.1 Evaluates teaching quality across a school accurately, exploiting appropriate techniques to gather evidence
2.2.2 Analyses different leadership/management strategies aimed at improving pupil progress, attainment and behaviour and applies findings to own plans.
2.2.3 Designs, implements and evaluates an improvement project that reduces variation in pupil progress and/or attainment across the school Pupil performance data
2.2.4 Exploits opportunities to develop and grow the school curriculum
Leading with Impact 3.2.1 Evaluates research into, and examples of, leadership and motivation and/or influence and applies findings to motivate or influence others across the school Sponsor Comments
3.2.2 Designs and implements a communications plan to promote and/or defend plans, drawing on campaigns and techniques used by other schools Communications Plan
Working in Partnership 4.2.1 Establishes and sustains partnerships that build capability and/or improve performance in priority areas for the school Sponsor Comments
4.2.2 Evaluates the effectiveness of partnerships in terms of pupil progress and/or attainment
Managing Resources and Risks 5.2.1 Analyses the value for money/cost effectiveness of different options and designs a business case for recommended approach Business Case
5.2.2 Implements a risk management plan that systematically assesses, monitors, mitigates and contingency plans for risks Risk Management Plan
Increasing Capability 6.2.1 Analyses key research into and examples of effective professional development and talent management in schools and applies findings to own plans
6.2.2 Analyses how professional development provision may need to change over time and applies findings to own plans




QTL Bursaries

QTL is offering a limited number of bursaries on a first come first served basis to NPQSL applicants who are from small schools (as defined by the DfE) or from a BME background, if your application is successful this could cover up to half of the full course fee.

If you have any queries about NPQSL costs and bursaries please email

QTL Bursary application