NPQ in Headship

Step up and spark change with our accredited headship course.


  • Deliver meaningful change in your school.
  • Develop your leadership expertise.
  • Free additional support if you’re new to headship.
  • Join a network of like-minded leaders.
  • Free one-to-one support and coaching.
Applications closed

Deliver meaningful change in your school

Get the tools to establish and – more importantly – sustain your school’s strategic direction. Learn how to create an effective school culture and align your staff in your school’s mission.

Access free ongoing support for your first year of headship

Get additional support tailored to the needs of new headteachers. Receive structured, unassessed, face -to-face support from an experienced former headteacher who will offer guidance and coaching to help you get the most out of your training.

Join a network of like-minded leaders

Become part of a community of school heads who share a passion for addressing educational disadvantage. Build valuable connections with other headteachers and senior school leaders from across the country and learn how they faced and overcame similar challenges.

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 Headship (NPQH). 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.

The Programme

Is the NPQH programme for me?

This is for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school.

If you’re new to the role of headship, you’ll also be able to access a free additional targeted package of support – the NPQH additional support offer for, and tailored to the needs of, new headteachers.

How does the NPQH work?

This 21-month programme (18 months’ delivery and up to three months for assessment, with flexibility to extend by up to six months for teachers new to the role of headship) 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 whole school responsibility related to your role as an aspiring or current headteacher. These include curriculum and assessment, professional development and governance and accountability. Our content is informed by the best and most recent evidence, and is 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 NPQH 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 77 hours of learning, including 41 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 NPQH. 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.


Fully funded places will continue to be available to all teachers and leaders from publicly funded schools and settings for the NPQ in Headship.

If you are not able to access a funded place the National Professional Qualification in Headship costs £1885.


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