How the leading literacy NPQ can change learning and lives

June 15, 2022

Christopher Such and Sarah Bagshaw-McCormick

Learning Design, Ambition Institute

Since September 2021, Ambition Institute has welcomed teachers and school leaders from across the country onto our National Professional Qualification (NPQ) programmes.

From October 2022, we are delighted to offer two new NPQ programmes to support teachers and school leaders to transform practice in their schools: NPQ for Early Years Leadership (NPQEYL) and NPQ for Leading Literacy (NPQLL).

Let’s learn more about the National Professional Qualification for Leading Literacy (NPQLL) and how it can improve the practice of your teachers and provide your pupils with essential skills for life.

Why focus on literacy?

Our vision is an education system where every child can thrive, no matter their background. Literacy is at the heart of academic achievement, has a direct impact on quality of life and is closely correlated with disadvantage (Breadmore et al., 2019). In fact, we know that low levels of literacy disproportionately impact pupils who experience disadvantage, resulting in outcomes below age-expectations (EEF, 2018; EEF, 2021a; EEF, 2021b).

We have the power to change this.

Effective literacy instruction not only improves pupils’ literacy outcomes, but it also impacts on pupils’ learning across the curriculum (Nunes et al, 2017). Ensuring that all pupils become confidently literate is an essential responsibility of leaders of literacy.

But leading literacy can be challenging, which is where the NPQLL can help.

The NPQLL programme draws on a wealth of research evidence to build the expertise of school leaders to enable them to effectively lead literacy in their school. The NPQLL will develop your knowledge of the science of learning, motivation, spoken language, reading, writing, professional development and implementation. Throughout, the programme draws on the best available evidence and the experience of expert leaders of literacy in the sector to build participants’ knowledge and practice.

What is contained in the NPQLL framework?

The NPQLL framework is divided into six components:

  • Enabling conditions, including effective instruction, motivation, culture and curriculum.
  • Developing language, including spoken language and vocabulary.
  • Developing reading, including phonics, fluency, comprehension, disciplinary reading and building a culture of independent reading.
  • Developing writing from transcription to composition.
  • Professional development, which builds on the EEF’s recent report and our extensive experience in the sector.
  • Implementation of change.

In short, the NPQLL framework has been designed to empower you to improve literacy instruction and outcomes in your context.

But what does it mean in practice?

It means understanding how literacy is learned, in order to best design a literacy curriculum.

It means understanding the role of spoken language in early literacy and beyond so that all pupils learn the power and skill of using their voice.

It means understanding how reading is developed so that all pupils have access to instruction to become fluent, independent readers.

It means knowing how to sequence and teach writing so that all pupils are equipped with the writing skills to succeed across the curriculum.

It means understanding how vocabulary is learned and taught so that all pupils have access to a deep and broad vocabulary that will enable precise and clear communication.

Most of all, it means appreciating the ways that these components of literacy are interconnected and how you can draw on the expertise developed in this programme to successfully lead literacy in your context to improve pupils’ literacy, learning and lives.


How will this programme benefit me and my career?

The NPQLL is a great opportunity to build your leadership expertise. It focuses on how you can share your new literacy expertise through effective professional development and implementation, offering you the best chance of enacting lasting change in your context.

The NPQLL builds on our extensive experience of designing high-quality professional development. The programme is planned to maximise opportunities to develop your practice, including extensive exemplification of effective practice, networks with your peers and regular bite-sized summaries of up-to-date evidence.

How long is the programme?

The NPQLL lasts one academic year. Over the course of the year, you will engage in learning activities that will take about one hour a week during term time. In addition to this, you’ll attend an introductory conference for one day and half termly clinics that are two hours long.

There are no longer any projects for you to write up. The only assessment will be a 1500-word response to a case study.

All of 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 serving leaders of literacy across a school, year group, faculty, key stage or phase. It is equally suited to those aspiring to such a position. The NPQLL 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 Leading Literacy?

The NQPLL will be available from autumn 2022.

Interested in developing the leadership of literacy across your school? Register your interest in the NPQLL here.

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