How can early years settings benefit from CPD?

Aug. 4, 2022

In May 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) announced the introduction of two new National Professional Qualifications (NPQs): Leading Literacy and Early Years Leadership.

These qualifications form a response to the needs of our schools and nurseries, and will support participants to meet the demands of their individual settings. We are pleased to be delivering both programmes from October 2022.

Let’s learn more about the National Professional Qualification for Early Years Leadership (NPQEYL), and how it can help you develop the essential knowledge and skills that underpin successful leadership of early years settings.

Why focus on early years leadership?

It is now, more than ever, that we need targeted CPD within early years settings.

In the aftermath of the pandemic more children are falling behind expected levels of attainment. In fact, the proportion of children reaching the expected attainment levels in their first year of school dropped from 72%, to 59% between 2019 and 2021 (Education Endowment Foundation, 2022), equivalent to three more children falling behind in every class by the end of the school year. Learning loss also disproportionately affects the lives and opportunities of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, with persistently poor students as much as 29 months behind their peers.

We know that 40% of the attainment gap is already evident by the age of five (Education Policy Institute). It has also been found that high-quality CPD for teachers has a significant effect on pupils’ learning outcomes (Zuccollo & Fletcher-Wood, 2020). By providing targeted support for teachers in early years settings, we can therefore create impact which ripples through to later stages of a pupil’s educational career.

But early years settings are complex, which is where the NPQEYL can help.

In creating the NPQEYL, the DfE have recognised this need for targeted action within early years settings to ensure that every child gets the best start in life. The NPQEYL fills a gap in early years leadership, providing evidence-based learning to support early years leaders and aspiring leaders to develop expertise in delivering high-quality early education and care.

What is contained in the NPQEYL framework?

The NPQEYL framework is divided into seven components:

  • Culture
  • Child Development, Curriculum and Assessment
  • Additional and special educational needs and disabilities
  • Professional development
  • Organisational management
  • Implementation
  • Working in partnership

Many of these areas align with those for senior leadership, headship and executive leadership, whilst being early years specific.

But what does it mean in practise?

It means working successfully with parents and services, and learning from people from different early years and educational settings.

It means delivering a high-quality and ambitious curriculum which challenges children to reach their potential.

It means understanding how to manage resources effectively and support staff to engage in effective professional development.

It means gaining confidence in delivering high-quality early education and care, including working with children who have additional and special educational needs.

It means understanding how to establish an effective culture across early years settings.

Most of all, it means providing an educational setting which enables children to experience high-quality learning and support to thrive, no matter what their background.

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How will this programme benefit me and my career?

The NPQEYL is a great opportunity to build your leadership expertise. It focuses on how you can organise staff development, effectively manage resources and deliver high-quality and ambitious curriculum, giving you the best chance of enacting lasting change in your setting.

The NPQEYL is built to maximise opportunities to develop your practice, drawing on our extensive experience of designing high-quality, evidence-based professional development. As part of this programme, you will exemplify effective practice, network with your peers, and have access to regular bite-sized summaries of up-to-date evidence.

How long is the programme?

The NPQEYL lasts 18 months. Over the course of these months, you will engage in a mixture of self-study and group coaching sessions, as well as face-to-face sessions with other participants.

You will also partake in:

  • Two live conferences (each lasting six hours).
  • Six two-hour online clinics (facilitated sessions).
  • One two-hour assessment clinic.
  • Nine online communities (one-hour group sessions).

Learning activities have been designed to fit around your busy schedule and will take about one to two hours a week.

There are no longer any projects for you to write up. The only assessment will be an open-book style assessment in which you respond to a short case study. The assessment window is three months and will take place at the end of the 18-month programme. You will have eight days to complete the assessment and it can be sat twice if needed.

All our materials are carefully designed to ensure any time you invest is beneficial to the development of expertise.

Who is eligible?

The programme is designed for early years practitioners qualified at level 3 or above. It is equally suited to leaders and aspiring leaders of early years education who care for children aged between birth and five years old.

The NPQEYL is fully funded by the government, making it free to educators in state schools in England.

When can I access the National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership?

The NPQEYL will be available from autumn 2022.


Interested in delivering high-quality early education and care across your setting? Register your interest in the NPQEYL here.

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