National professional qualifications


The DfE is transforming the training and support available for teachers at all stages of their career. The 2019 Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy set out a range of commitments intended to ensure that teaching remains an attractive, sustainable and rewarding career path. This includes reforms to the national professional qualifications (NPQ) that will be available from September 2021.

Learners First is working in partnership with local Teaching Schools Hubs and national partners to be able to deliver the new NPQs in accordance with the reforms for the 2021/22 academic year.


On 13th October 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) published details of the new frameworks for the reformed national professional qualifications (NPQ) that will be effective from September 2021. They have been developed in consultation with an expert advisory group from across the education system and include changes to the ways in which NPQs will be assessed.

NPQs are a voluntary suite of qualifications designed to support the professional development of all teachers and school/trust leaders. They are already widely recognised by the sector and regarded as a set of prestigious professional qualifications.

The reformed suite comprises of three specialist NPQs and revisions to NPQSL, NPQH and NPQEL. The three Specialist NPQs are – leading teaching (NPQLT), leading behaviour and culture (NPQLBC), and leading teacher development (NPQLTD) and have been added to the suite for teachers who want to deepen their expertise in specialist areas.


Specialist NPQs

  • NPQ for Leading Teaching (NPQLT)

    For teachers who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading teaching in a subject, year group, key stage or phase.

  • NPQ for Leading Behaviour and Culture (NPQLBC)

    For teachers who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading behaviour and/or supporting pupil wellbeing in their school.

  • NPQ for Leading Teacher Development (NPQLTD)

    For teachers who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading the development of other teachers in their school. They may have responsibilities for the development of all teachers across a school or specifically trainees or teachers who are early in their career.

Reformed NPQs

  • NPQ for Senior Leadership (NPQSL)

    For school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross school responsibilities.

  • NPQ for Headship (NPQH)

    For school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a head teacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school.

  • NPQ for Executive Leadership (NPQEL)

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


The DfE has developed and published an NPQ Content Framework, specifying the mandated requirements as to what the curricula of the NPQ training should cover. The NPQ Content Frameworks can be found here:

The NPQ Content Frameworks are relevant to teachers in both primary and secondary phases. They have also been designed to ensure they support all pupils to succeed in both mainstream and specialist settings. This includes those pupils identified within the four areas of need set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) code of practice, and children in need of help and protection as identified in the Children in Need Review.


The assessment process for NPQs has been refreshed to reduce the workload burden on teachers while still providing an opportunity for them to apply their knowledge. To pass the courses, teachers will need to engage with at least 90% of the course and pass one Summative Assessment. The NPQ Summative Assessments will take the form of a case study covering the content in the relevant NPQ Content Framework and represent a likely situation to be faced by a Teacher at the relevant NPQ qualification level or role. A different case study and mark scheme will apply for each cohort group.


The DfE appointed nine lead providers in April 2021, to operate on a national basis to design and deliver the entire reformed suite of NPQs and the NPQH Additional Support for New Head Teachers in readiness for September. Each lead provider will work with a range of delivery partners to provide a localised offer. Learners First has been an accredited provider of the National Professional Qualifications since they were first established by the DfE back in April 2012, supporting over 2,600 leaders during this time. We very much look forward to continuing to work as an NPQ delivery partner as part of the newly appointed national provider networks and Teaching School Hubs in the delivery of the reformed NPQs from September 2021 onwards.

scholarship funding

Scholarship Funding for the new NPQs will be determined by the DfE in accordance with the Department’s priorities.

Funding will be dependent on the level of NPQ and the eligibility of the school at which the teacher is employed with the percentage of pupils on Pupil Premium being a key criterion. Further details regarding funding are expected from the DfE during the Summer Term 2021.


Application details will be set out in the Summer Term 2021 following the DfE’s appointment of lead providers. For expressions of interest in the new programmes, please email and we will notify you of the application process once finalised.

NPQH (New)


In addition to the reformed suite of NPQs, the DfE is introducing an £800 per eligible head teacher top-up payment in respect of the NPQH for providers to design and deliver an additional support offer for new head teachers who have taken the reformed NPQH or will be taking the NPQH in their first two years in role (the ‘NPQH Additional Support Offer for New Head Teachers’). This is a targeted package of support tailored to the needs of Teachers new to the role of headship when they are at their least experienced and most at risk of leaving the profession.

The aim of the NPQH Additional Support Offer for New Head Teachers is to provide structured, unassessed face to face support based on the best available evidence about what makes an effective head teacher. This may include but is not limited to group coaching and expert led one to one conversations. Challenges new head teachers face are varied, evidence shows that support is more effective when tailored to the needs and context of the head teacher.

Further information to follow in the Summer Term.



Dive straight into the feedback!
Login below and you can start commenting using your own user instantly

Scroll to Top Skip to content