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National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL)



Leading Learning Forward TSA, in association with The Humber Teaching School, is pleased to offer the updated National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) course, to current and aspiring senior school leaders, as an NPQ provider accredited by the Department for Education (DfE).

Who is NPQSL for?

NPQSL is for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities e.g. an experienced middle leader, a deputy headteacher, an assistant headteacher, or other senior staff. This includes those who are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities e.g. a Director of a Teaching School Alliance (TSA).

What you will learn on NPQSL?

Each  NPQ course features the same six content areas as below, however the knowledge and skills within a content area increases in sophistication, depth and breadth progressively through each of the NPQ levels.

  • Strategy & Improvement

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.

  • Teaching and Curriculum Excellence

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.

  • Leading with Impact

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.

  • Working in Partnership

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.

  • Managing Resources and Risks

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.

  • Increasing Capability

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.

Leadership Behaviours

In addition to learning about the 6 content areas, as part of the NPQSL, participants are required to evaluate their strengths in each of the following seven behaviours at the beginning of their NPQ, and plan how they will develop these during their study programme. Descriptors of the behaviours are as follows:-

  • Commitment

The best leaders are self-motivated and take a creative, problem-solving approach to new challenge.

  • Collaboration

The best leaders readily engage with, and invest responsibility in, those who are best placed to improve outcomes.

  • Personal Drive

The best leaders are self-motivated and take a creative, problem-solving approach to new challenge.

  • Resilience

The best leaders remain courageous and positive in challenging, adverse or uncertain circumstances.

  • Awareness

The best leaders will know themselves and their teams, continually reflect on their own and others’ practices, and understand how best to approach difficult or sensitive issues.

  • Integrity

The best leaders act with honesty, transparency and always in the interests of the school and its pupils.

  • Respect

The best leaders respect the rights, views, beliefs and faiths of pupils, colleagues and stakeholders.

NPQSL Assessment

The assessment requirements outlined below is applicable to participants starting their NPQSL study programme in 2020-21.

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 words, excluding supporting documents and annexes

Assessment Content Areas

Part A

  • Strategy and Improvement
  • Teaching and Curriculum Excellence
  • Leading with Impact
  • Working in Partnership

Part B

  • Managing Resources and Risks
  • Increasing Capability

The assessment for NPQSL is conducted  on behalf of Leading Learning Forward TSA and The Humber Teaching School by an experienced external assessor.

Programme Delivery

NPQSL is delivered over the course of at least two academic terms, ensuring that participants are afforded sufficient time and development opportunities to successfully meet the assessment criteria. This will include the equivalent of a minimum of 6 days face-to-face sessions out of school, as well as online webinars and school exchange visits, delivered by experienced school leaders. A total of 140 study hours is required.

Programme Cost

The cost of NPQSL with Leading Learning Forward TSA and The Humber Teaching School, to start in  October 2020,  is £1499 which covers the cost of:

  • course materials and resources
  • course presentations and face-to-face sessions
  • online learning and support 
  • school exchange support
  • lunch and refreshments (where applicable)
  • one assessment submission.

NB: Any participant failing to adhere to the assessment requirements may be liable for the cost of re-submission.

Eligibility for DfE Scholarship Funding

NB: DfE scholarship funding, for NPQSL courses, is not currently available.


Please read and download our current NPQSL information leaflet (PDF) for 2020-21:

Delivery Plan

The current delivery plan is as follows:


Session Description



Induction & Diagnostics



Personal Study/Improvement Project



Face-to-Face 1



Face-to-Face 2



Face-to-Face 3: Support/Coaching/Online Learning



Personal Study/Improvement Project



Face-to-Face 4: Support/Coaching/Online Learning



Face-to-Face 5



Face-to-Face 6



School Visit/Exchange/Placement



Personal Study/Improvement Project



Coaching/Support/Online Learning



Project & Assessment




140 h

NPQ Delivery Plan with Assessment Dates

Read and download the current NPQ Delivery Plan and the NPQ Delivery & Assessment Dates for courses delivered by The Humber Teaching School and Leading Learning Forward TSA.

Key Policies, Notices & Protocols 2020-21

The current NPQ policies, notices and protocols (in PDF  format) can be read and downloaded via the links below are as follows:


The NPQSL application window for 2020-21 has CLOSED.

NPQSL Enquiries 

If you have any queries about the 2020-21 NPQSL course, please contact Joanne Holmes in the LLF TSA office: 

New NPQSL Programme (from September 2021)

From 1st September 2021, the NPQSL programme detailed above is changing. Local information about the new NPQSL programme will be published on this website in due course. If you want to find out more about the new NPQ programmes now, please visit the websites of GOV.UK and Ambition Institute.


The Humber Teaching School

Page updated: 20 May 2021