National professional qualification

Executive leadership


Executive school leaders
Course duration
18 months
Average weekly study time

1 to 2 hours

Study type

Mix of self-study and group sessions

Assessment type

Reflection based on case study (up to 2,500 words)

Next start

October 2023

Course overview

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

  • the specialist expertise required to run a multi-school organisation
  • developing processes and systems that enable and encourage collaboration between staff within and across schools
  • effectively managing resources and establishing sustainable policies

Who this course is for

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

  • executive headteacher
  • or have a school trust chief executive role with responsibility for leading several schools

What you’ll learn

This course covers themes including:

  • trust culture
  • effective teaching
  • supporting curriculum and assessment development
  • 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

How you and your school could benefit

Excel as an executive leader

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

Learn from experts

Join one-to-one coaching sessions where you’ll get advice from experts and tailored feedback on your performance.

Flexible learning

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

Form a strong support network

Connect with other school leaders, share your collective expertise and build a network with people who face similar challenges as you.

Focus on your specific needs

Traditionally, professional development in leadership has focused 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 DfE-approved providers offering this NPQ have designed their course content around an evidence-based framework.

The course covers 10 topics, with a mix of self-study and group coaching sessions, as well as face-to-face sessions with other participants.

On average you will need to spend between 1 and 2 hours per week working towards completing this NPQ. Where possible, you should do this during dedicated career development time in school hours.


You can train with one of the following providers:

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

How this NPQ is assessed

To get your NPQ accreditation you’ll need to:

  • complete the course
  • pass a written assessment up to (2,500 words) at the end

Your course provider will be able to give you more details about how the assessment works.

Course funding

Full DfE funding, with no cost to the participant, is available to staff from:

  • state-funded schools in England
  • state-funded organisations that offer 16 to 19 places in England
Funding is currently available if you start your NPQ in the 2022 to 2023 academic year or the 2023 to 2024 academic year.

You can do more than one NPQ, but will only be eligible for funding for each NPQ once. If you withdraw or fail your course you cannot get funded again for the same NPQ.


Step 1

Speak to your line manager to get support for you doing this NPQ.

Step 2

Once you have your school’s approval, they’ll be able to help you choose a training provider.

Step 3

Register with us so we can confirm you’re eligible to take this course for free.

We’ll give your details to your chosen provider once you have registered. They’ll then send you an application form.