National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership.

Learners First – a Department For Education accredited provider of the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership

National Professional Qualifications (NPQs)

advanced divider

Learners First has been designing and delivering the NPQML qualification since the DFE first licensed provision in 2012. Since then over 660 aspiring and serving middle leaders have accessed the Learners First programme.


Who is NPQML for?

advanced divider

NPQML is for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a middle leader with responsibility for leading a team e.g. a key stage leader, a curriculum area leader, a pastoral services leader, a subject leader, a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), or a head of department.

This includes those who are, or are aspiring to be, a middle leader with cross-school responsibilities e.g. a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE).

What Will You Learn On NPQML?

advanced divider

Each of the NPQs feature the same 6 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

Manage and analyse performance data to evaluate progress, identify trends, define team priorities and develop improvement strategies (for example, in relation to disadvantaged pupils or those with particular needs)

Implement successful change at team level

Teaching and Curriculum Excellence

Grow excellent, evidence-based teaching in a team and a curriculum that develops pupils academically and prepares them for adult life

Improve the progress, attainment and behaviour of all pupils, including those who are disadvantaged or have particular needs (for example, Pupil Premium, SEND, EAL or the most able pupils)

Leading With Impact

Anticipate other peoples’ views or feelings and moderate your approach accordingly

Adopt different leadership styles to ensure the team meets its objectives

Present, communicate or defend challenging messages confidently and positively to a range of audiences

Working in Partnership

Realise the benefits of collaborating with others, including teachers, teaching assistants and non-teaching staff, other schools, parents/carers and other organisations

Support their team to build and sustain relationships with others which develop and share good practice and improve performance

Managing Resources and Risks

Deploy staff, financial and educational resources within a team efficiently, to enhance pupil progress and attainment

Manage risks within a team effectively (for example, in relation to staffing, finances or teacher workload), using a risk register

Deliver a safe environment for pupils and staff

Increasing Capability

Hold others to account, line manage and evaluate performance effectively

Support all members of their team with appropriate, targeted opportunities for professional development, including newly-qualified teachers, teaching assistants, and stronger or weaker performers

Leadership Behaviours

advanced divider

In addition to learning about the 6 content areas, as part of the NPQML participants are required to evaluate their strengths in each of the following 7 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:-


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


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


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


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.


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


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

Content Areas Assessed

advanced divider

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 NPQML is conducted externally on behalf of Learners First by NPQ Online an experienced assessor for quality leadership in education.

Delivery Approach​

advanced divider

The Learners First approach will be to deliver NPQML 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 involve the equivalent of 6 days out of school at face-to-face sessions, delivered by experienced school leaders.

Programme Costs

advanced divider

The cost of NPQML with Learners First is:  £910 – This includes the cost of one assessment submission.

Should a participant fail to adhere to the assessment requirements they may be liable for the cost of resubmission.

NPQ Scholarships

advanced divider

The Department for Education has currently suspended access to scholarship funding for new applicants for NPQs. Updates will be provided here should the DfE position change.


advanced divider
Further information regarding applications for the next NPQML programme will be published after half-term.


advanced divider

If you have any queries regarding the new NPQML please email:-

Quality Assurance

advanced divider

Recent NPqML News & Blogs

advanced divider
Scroll to Top Skip to content