Executive leadership national professional qualification

A course to help school leaders develop the expertise needed to be an outstanding leader, leading improvements across a group of schools or multi-academy trust.

Applies to England

Who this course is for

This course is for school leaders who are, or want to be:

  • an executive headteacher
  • in a school trust chief executive role with responsibility for leading several schools


This 18-month course will help you gain confidence and develop skills in:

  • running a multi-school organisation
  • developing processes and systems that enable and encourage collaboration between staff within and across schools
  • managing resources effectively and establishing sustainable policies

This course will:

  • take 18 months to complete
  • involve an average of 1 to 2 hours of study each week
  • be a mix of self-study and group sessions
  • involve a written assessment
  • start February 2024


Funding to cover the course fees is available for most teachers and school leaders in state-funded settings in England.

Learn about funding.

Course content

This course covers developing and supporting:

  • a trust culture
  • effective teaching
  • curriculum and assessment development
  • good behaviour
  • additional and special educational needs
  • professional development
  • organisational management

You’ll also learn about:

  • implementation strategies
  • working in partnership with parents and carers
  • governance and accountability

Benefits for you and your school

Improved executive leadership

Start with an ambitious vision for your schools or trust and create the conditions and culture needed for staff and pupils to thrive.

Tailored expert advice and coaching

One-to-one coaching sessions give you expert advice and feedback on your performance.

Undisruptive to existing workload

This flexible learning programme is designed to be completed alongside your daily role. It is delivered in short, bite-sized chunks to fit around your existing commitments.

Focused on your specific needs

Instead of focusing on personal traits, such as the qualities of dynamic and charismatic leadership, this course pays more attention to tackling the persistent problems of your daily role.

Course structure

The course covers 10 topics, outlined in the course framework. Providers use this framework to design their course.

The course includes:

  • independent study
  • group coaching
  • face-to-face sessions with other participants

You’ll need to spend 1 to 2 hours a week working on this NPQ.


You can train with one of these providers:

They work with delivery partners, such as teaching school hubs, to provide training.


To get your NPQ accreditation, you’ll need to complete the course and pass a written assessment (between 1,500 and 2,500 words).


Before you apply to your chosen training provider, you need to register with the Department for Education.

Learn how to apply for an NPQ.

Published 20 September 2023
Last updated 12 February 2024 + show all updates
  1. Updated NPQ start date to February 2024.

  2. First published.