How much time does it take to do an NPQ? Your questions answered


National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) are designed to have the flexibility to fit around the responsibilities of your day-to-day role. Our ‘little and often’ approach to learning means that you will access pieces of programme content at regular intervals. This will help you to build the mental models needed to make a positive change in your practice.

This article will answer questions you may have about time requirements on an NPQ.

  • How much time does it take to do an NPQ?
  • How much time away from the school timetable will I need to do an NPQ?
  • What happens if I miss parts of my NPQ?
  • How do I catch up on missed learning on an NPQ?
  • Can I do my NPQ self-study all in one go?
  • How long do NPQ assessments take?

How much time does it take to do an NPQ?

NPQs are delivered through a blend of self-guided online modules, in-person sessions, and online, interactive sessions delivered in real-time by a facilitator. You can learn more about what these are in our article: How you learn on the NPQs.

The time it takes to do an NPQ depends on whether you are doing a specialist NPQ or a leadership NPQ.

Leadership NPQs
Leadership NPQs are delivered over 18 months. During this time, you will take part in:

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If you are completing an NPQ in Headship, you will also take part in one school visit:

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If you are completing an NPQ in Executive Leadership, you will also take part in coaching sessions:

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Specialist NPQs
Specialist NPQs are delivered over 12 months. During this time, you will take part in:

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How much time away from the school timetable will I need to do an NPQ?

Our NPQs are carefully designed to minimise disruption to your role. The only off-timetable requirements for your NPQ will be the in-person session(s). The number of in-person sessions you have may vary depending on where your NPQ is delivered and whether you are taking a specialist or leadership NPQ.

Specialist NPQs require a minimum of eight hours off timetable and leadership NPQs require a minimum of 12 hours off timetable.

If you are learning through a local delivery partner, you may have more in-person sessions requiring time off timetable. You will be given plenty of notice of any live sessions.

The course materials are well set out to illustrate the idea of breaking things up into chunks

- NPQ participant, 2023

What happens if I miss parts of my NPQ?

To complete your NPQ, you must engage with at least 90% of the conferences, clinics and courses.

- If you are completing an NPQ in Executive Leadership, your coaching sessions will also count towards this 90% engagement.

- If you are completing an NPQ in Headship, your school visit will count towards this 90% engagement.

You will also complete an assessment at the end of your NPQ.

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How do I catch up on missed learning on an NPQ?

It’s best to take part in your programme sessions live: you’ll be able to engage in conversations with your peers, ask questions of your facilitators and get the most from your NPQ. However, we understand there may be times where you have commitments which can’t be moved.

If you can’t attend a clinic or conference, you can access catch-up content through the online learning platform Steplab.

Can I do my NPQ self-study all in one go?

You will complete your NPQ courses on Steplab. Each half-term, a new course will be released and you will then be able to access all of the ‘study’ and ‘apply’ modules within this course. This means that you can learn where and when is best for you.

We recommend that you spend 50 minutes a week on your self-study modules.

NPQs are sequenced so that what you learn will be revisited in other parts of your NPQ, such as clinics and communities. By accessing your self-study in this way, you will benefit fully from the different learning elements.

Every module has impacted my practice. Each week, small adjustments have positively benefitted my role.

- NPQ participant, 2023

How long do NPQ assessments take?

NPQ assessments are designed to be flexible around your other commitments.

At the end of your NPQ, you will be given an eight-day window to respond to a single case study. You can take as long as you need to complete your assessment within this time. The assessment is open book which means you will have full access to programme content and materials to help you with your answer. This will be your only assessment – there are no project requirements.

Under exceptional circumstances, you may be able to sit your assessment at the next available assessment window. This will usually be six-months later.

Your NPQ result will be available around three months after the assessment window closes.

Learn more

Our National Professional Qualifications are designed with the flexibility to fit around the responsibilities of your day-to-day role.

Learn more