NPQ in Executive Leadership

Become a confident leader of a multi-school organisation.


  • Gain a prestigious qualification to take your career to the next level.
  • Develop specialist expertise in running a multi-school organisation.
  • Connect with and learn from other executive leaders in the field.
  • Free one-to-one support and coaching.
  • Join a passionate network striving for educational equality.
Applications closed

Gain a prestigious qualification to take your career to the next level

Get the tools you need to establish and sustain your trust’s strategic direction and culture.

Develop specialist expertise in running a multi-school organisation

Learn how to develop processes and systems that enable and encourage collaboration between staff within and across your schools. You’ll gain practical skills in effectively managing resources and establishing sustainable policies.

Connect with and learn from other executive leaders in the field

Build and expand your network across the country. Gain valuable fresh perspectives from other leaders in similar roles.

Free one-to-one support and coaching

If you work in a school serving disadvantaged communities, you can apply for our free one-to-one support which runs alongside the NPQ in Executive Leadership (NPQEL). You’ll be supported by an experienced former school leader who will coach and guide you throughout the programme. You can apply for this additional support in your application.

Join a passionate network striving for educational equality

Share experiences with other school leaders, learn how they’ve faced similar challenges and build a professional network that will support you throughout your career.

The Programme

Is the NPQEL programme for me?

This is for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, an executive headteacher, or have a school trust Chief Executive Officer (CEO) role with responsibility for leading several schools.

How does the NPQEL work?

This 21-month programme (18 months’ delivery and up to three months for assessment) consists of a series of courses based on the DfE’s NPQ frameworks. Each course cycle features:

  • evidence-based online content to refresh and build knowledge, as well as exemplify what this looks like for your role and level of leadership
  • a formative assessment task to support your learning
  • a face-to-face seminar with a group of peers, facilitated by a serving school leader or One Cumbria Development Lead – you’ll analyse and reflect on the task and hear further examples of good practice
  • the opportunity to record reflections and consolidate learning

This cycle repeats throughout the programme, with implementation a consideration in every course. Towards the end of the programme, you’ll also take a course focused specifically on effective implementation. This provides an opportunity to complete a significant but manageable change project as part of your role. There will be ongoing support through a seminar group and discussion forum.

What will I learn?

You’ll develop expertise in the knowledge, skills and concepts for areas of trust-level responsibility related to your role. These include trust culture, working in partnership and organisational management. Our content is informed by the best and most recent evidence and developed with input from school leaders and subject matter experts.

Our programmes have a practical focus. You’ll be supported to make small but important changes to your and others’ practice throughout the programme. This will conclude with the implementation module and practical implementation cycle of the programme.

Find out more about the DfE’s NPQEL content framework:

Download Framework

What are the training commitments?

The programme is designed to fit around your other school commitments. Over the course of the whole programme (spread over five terms), you’ll undertake 80 hours of learning, including 43 synchronous and 12 in-person. This includes a combination of seminars, learning modules, conferences and a practical learning cycle.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment takes place within three months of you completing your NPQEL. Detailed dates will be shared with you before the start of the programme.

The assessment process for all NPQs has been refreshed to reduce the workload burden on teachers while still providing an opportunity to apply their knowledge. To pass the programme, you’ll need to engage with at least 90% of the course and pass one summative assessment.


Funding to cover the full cost will be available to teachers and leaders from the 50% of schools with the highest proportion of students who attract pupil premium funding. Comparative disadvantage measures will be applied for Early Years and 16 – 19 educational settings.

If you are not able to access a funded place the National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership costs £3890.


Applications are now closed. The application form will re-open in the summer term for an autumn 2024 start.

Applications closed

If you have any further questions please contact Tina Beddoe at