National Professional Qualifications (NPQs)

The Department for Education has announced the lead providers for the reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). From September 2021, it will be introducing a reformed suite of NPQs.

By Martin Hodge, Senior Professional Officer (Policy)

National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) are a national, voluntary suite of qualifications designed to support the professional development of teachers and leaders in England. Today (31 March 2021) the Department for Education has announced the lead providers for the reformed suite of NPQs. From September 2021, it will be introducing a reformed suite of NPQs.

Voice Community is pleased that the new suite of NPQs has been expanded to include a wider range of leadership roles. 

We’re pleased that the content has been revised to more accurately support teachers and leaders to develop their skills and abilities, but we’re underwhelmed by the qualifications themselves. 

However, it is a shame that they do not tie in with university learning, nor count as credits towards any post-graduate qualifications – which is a missed opportunity. 

Many school teachers and leaders view them as unnecessary and don’t get the necessary time out of work to do them properly, so we don’t know what their value is.

Further information from the Department for Education (DfE):

National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) reforms Updated: 
The Government’s plans to introduce new national professional qualifications (NPQs) and review existing NPQs.


The Department of Education is committed to ensuring that National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) continue to offer the best possible support to teachers and leaders. From September 2021 we will be introducing a reformed suite of NPQs.

The three existing NPQs in Senior Leadership, Headship and Executive Leadership have been refreshed, ensuring that they are underpinned by the latest evidence of what works. The existing Middle Leadership NPQ has also been replaced with three new specialist NPQs to best address the broad range of responsibilities of current and aspiring middle leaders. These specialist areas cover:

The reformed suite of NPQs is designed to offer the best possible support to teachers and leaders wanting to expand their knowledge and develop their skills, helping them to become more effective teachers and leaders inside and outside the classroom.

The frameworks have been developed in consultation with an expert advisory group with specialists from across the education system and clearly sets out the content that participants should know and be able to do after completing an NPQ. Providers of NPQs will use these frameworks to design their courses.

Today, the Department for Education is announcing the lead providers for the reformed suite of NPQs. These providers have been chosen by a fair and open procurement process by the DfE. Lead providers will be responsible for delivering the reformed NPQs in partnership with delivery partners in high-quality organisations including Teaching School Hubs.

Lead providers will play a key role in the reformed NPQs in partnership with delivery partners in high-quality organisations including Teaching School Hubs and Multi-Academy Trusts. The lead providers are:

  • Ambition Institute
  • Education Development Trust
  • Teach First
  • UCL Institute of Education 
  • Church of England
  • Harris Federation
  • Teacher Development Trust
  • Best Practice Network (home of Outstanding Leaders Partnership) 
  • Leadership Learning South East.

Scholarship funding to support participants to access the reformed suite of NPQs is planned from September 2021 and details will be confirmed in due course.

Quality Assurance Arrangements

Providers of the reformed suite of NPQs will be subject to a quality assurance (QA) mechanism through Ofsted inspection to ensure the best support for schools and teachers. Ofsted’s QA role will be distinct from and not apply to the current suite of NPQs. The current QA agent (Tribal) will continue to provide QA for all NPQ programmes until contract closure in August 2022. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Ofsted’s inspection role of NPQ programme mean that my school is going to be inspected?

Ofsted will inspect the lead providers. To inform their assessment of the lead providers, Ofsted will visit a sample of delivery partners and will engage others involved in receiving and delivering their programmes including teachers, and mentors. Delivery partners, including schools, will not be judged individually as part of these inspections, or directly named in reports.

I am currently undertaking an NPQ, what does this mean for my qualification?

Anyone currently undertaking a NPQ under the existing contracts and frameworks will continue to benefit from the knowledge and skills gained from these courses. All current participants are required to complete these courses, including assessment and moderation, by August 2022.

Which teachers will be eligible to undertake a reformed National Professional Qualification (NPQ)?

Each of the NPQs will be targeted at different groups of teachers to provide a coherent framework for development at every stage of their career.

Any teacher who is currently, or aspiring to be, a senior leader (with cross-school responsibilities), a head teacher or head of school (with responsibility for leading a school), or an executive head teacher or school trust CEO (with responsibility for leading several schools) will be eligible to undertake the relevant leadership qualifications.

Additionally, the specialist qualifications will be available to any teacher who may have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for the following:

  • leading teaching in a subject, year group, key stage, or phase;
  • leading behaviour and/or supporting pupil wellbeing in their school; 
  • leading the development of other teachers in their school and/or the development specifically of teachers who are early in their career.


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