Headship Programmes

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National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)

 The application round is now closed.

The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is the first-choice qualification for anyone aspiring to become a Headteacher or Principal. The Aspiring Leaders approach to the programme prepares you to lead a school confidently and effectively, in a system where Schools and Academies are fully responsible for self-improvement and delivering high-quality outcomes for students.

This programmes offers a unique opportunity to learn from some of the best school leaders in the country and observe what makes different schools ‘outstanding’.

The programme is very practical and all face-to face training sessions are facilitated by outstanding school leaders in their own schools and academies.* Serving leaders enjoy sharing their own unique experiences of headship, both the achievements, challenges, and systems and processes that were used to transform their schools. Participants will be guided through specific leadership tasks and will receive expert support to develop effective whole school strategies.

*Currently, due to covid-19, all sessions are being delivered virtually/online.

Who is the programme for?

Newly appointed Headteachers or highly motivated experienced senior leaders and ready to become a Principal within 12–18 months. Please note applicants need to be resident in the UK, or have the right to study in the UK.

What is involved?

Participants are required to attend seven compulsory face-to-face training days and a full day induction. The programme is delivered over three terms, with each session taking place in a different school or academy.

You will be invited to learn from our leaders and share their experiences while you understand some of the many facets that make up the role of the headteacher.

The NPQH qualification consists of:

  • an induction day
  • engagement in learning activities, which include:
  • work-based learning
  • face-to-face learning
  • self-directed learning (online reading)
  • support for learning (facilitators/line managers)
  • coaching for improvement (mentors)
  • learning with peers (group work)
  • structured reflection (critical review, evaluation and analysis)
  • recorded reflections, blogs and identification of key learning (to focus on leadership development priorities and to demonstrate progress)
  • successful completion of a project undertaken at a placement school or Academy (up to nine days)
  • comprehensive write-up of a project undertaken in your own school

Please find the assessment task sheet below in the 'Downloads' section.

Structure and Content Areas

There are six core content areas that set out what a leader should know or be able to deliver as an effective leader. The content areas are common across each level.

The six content areas for learning are:

  • Strategy and Improvement
  • Teaching and Curriculum Excellence
  • Leading with Impact
  • Working in Partnership
  • Managing Resources and Risks
  • Increasing Capability

In addition, there are seven leadership behaviours, common to each NPQ level, which set out how the best leaders operate.

The seven leadership behaviours are:

  • Commitment
  • Collaboration
  • Personal Drive
  • Resilience
  • Awareness
  • Integrity
  • Respect

We work closely with participants to evaluate their strength in each behaviour at the beginning of their programme, and plan how they will develop these behaviours during their NPQ study. 

The benefits

All four Aspiring Leaders programmes are led by principals and are delivered by high-performing principals, middle and senior leaders with exceptional track records. Our leading practitioners have a wealth of experience in dealing with the challenges that schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) face, and have a proven record in improving outcomes for pupils and students.

The benefits of our Leadership offer are:

  • By using experienced practitioners to deliver all of the face-to-face training sessions participants will have a good understanding of the accountabilities and responsibilities that make up the different leadership roles. Facilitator’s role model how to execute leadership roles effectively for impact sharing their challenges and achievements.
  • Opportunities to visit a range of school settings, including primary, secondary, faith and private schools provides participants with a greater understanding of education and leadership. This feature of the programme will challenge existing practices and ways of working and will inspire new ideas for leaders to take back to their own schools.
  • Participants will learn from evidence-based practices used in other schools to achieve rapid transformation. Aspiring Leaders will have access to a number of different models they can use to inform their own leadership development projects for the final assessment.
  • Choose an experienced leader of former NPQ participant as a coach or mentor to gain further support and guidance on your learning journey. Take full advantage of the range of expertise available through the programme network.


Participants will study the programme over three school terms and must complete the assessment within 18 months of the start of the programme.


The assessment comprises two leadership tasks assessed by the Harris Federation Teaching School Alliance.

Task 1: Undertake a project in your own school on leading an actual school improvement programme (4,000 words).

Task 2: Undertake a project working in partnership with a placement school on an actual school improvement priority focused on managing resources and risks and increasing capability (2,500 words).

Please find the assessment task sheet below in the 'Downloads' section.


Each face-to-face training session will take place at a different academy or alliance partner school. Participants will have opportunities to tour the schools and academies and interact with staff and students.


The cost of this programme is £1,500.

How to Apply

The application round is open! Please click here to submit your application.

This form is to be completed by both the applicant and the applicant's NPQH sponsor, usually the Executive Headteacher, line manager or chair of governors.

Successful applicants

If your application is successful, you will receive notification from us via email within one month of the application deadline, including details of the programme induction.

Unsuccessful applicants

If your application is unsuccessful, we may call you to discuss the outcome. We will provide you with feedback on why your application has not been successful at this time, and in some cases you may be asked to submit more information or you will be invited to reapply.

For further queries, please contact info@harristeachingschool.com

Privacy, complaints and whistleblowing policies


Recruitment targets from DfE:

Year 1 (2018): 100% Fully met

Year 2 (2019): 86% Partially met

Year 3 (2020): TBC

DfE targets for % non-white British participants:

Year 1 (2018): 100% Fully met

Year 2 (2019): 100% Fully met

Year 3 (2020): TBC

DfE targets for participants from schools with >30% FSM:

Year 1 (2018): 100% Fully met

Year 2 (2019): 100% Fully met

Year 3 (2020): TBC

% of participants presenting for final assessment within 18 months: 81% Partially met DfE target

Participant feedback rating: 100% Fully met DfE target

Current pass rate: 97%


Page Downloads Date  
NPQH Assessment Tasks Description 09th May 2019 Download
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