National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL)

In 18 months, you will develop the expertise you need to become an outstanding executive leader, leading change and improvement across your group of schools or multi-academy trust.

  • Learn from experts in executive leadership
  • Excel as an executive school leader
  • Flexible learning to suit your timetable
  • Gain an NPQEL accreditation

Why us?

Our new National Professional Qualification (NPQ) for Executive Leadership gives you the chance to put evidence-based leadership methods into practice and drive change in your schools or multi-academy trust.

This is one of six new and reformed NPQs that have been developed as a series. They share the same common language and framework to help drive improvement across schools.

The programme uses the latest evidence-based learning and shows you how to put your findings into practice in your school setting. You will train alongside other leaders with similar responsibilities with content organised around the key challenges that you face in your role.

Our NPQs are designed to be highly flexible to fit around your day job. Our ‘little and often’ approach to how the curriculum is delivered will support you to see and feel that you are continually getting better.

Throughout your NPQ, you will have access to Steplab, the market leading professional development platform, built by teachers, for teachers. It has been designed to aid teacher education and maximise the impact of deliberate practice, with practice activities to help you get better faster.

Benefits for you

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.

Train to your timetable
This programme is designed to be completed alongside your daily role. It is delivered in short, bite-sized chunks, which is proven to be useful for knowledge retention, and will fit around your existing commitments.

Form a strong support network
Connect with other school leaders, share your collective expertise and build a tight-knit network with people who face the same challenges as you.

Benefits for your school or trust

Focus on your specific needs
Traditionally, professional development in leadership has focused on personal traits, such as the qualities of dynamic and charismatic leadership. The new and reformed NPQs pay more attention to the knowledge leaders need to tackle the persistent problems of their daily roles.

Share a common knowledge base
National Professional Qualifications are aligned, so all educators will be working to the same framework and be able to share a common language for developing a school or trust.

Learn from the best
Ambition Institute has a proven track record in delivering continuous professional development. Your leaders will benefit from the latest evidence-based learning and develop expert knowledge in all areas of school leadership.

Gain expert knowledge
This programme is led by experts, giving your executive leaders the chance to connect with a network of talented educators and put what they learn into practice at your organisation.


Our programmes are designed for participants to engage in both live, facilitated sessions and modules that you can complete at any time.

Over 18 months, this includes:

  • 1-2-1 coaching.
  • Two full day conferences (6hrs each).
  • Nine courses (each course lasts six weeks).
  • Each course includes six modules.
  • Six two-hour clinics (facilitated sessions).
  • One two-hour assessment clinic.
  • Nine communities (one-hour group sessions).

What you'll learn

This programme develops your executive leadership skills and knowledge and covers the content listed in the Department for Education’s NPQ Executive Leadership Framework.

You will learn how to:

  • create a positive and effective culture across your schools or trust
  • support school leaders and your senior team to put in place an evidence-informed approach to designing the curriculum
  • give clear feedback to teachers and make sure they are supported with guidance and training to do their jobs effectively
  • create and sustain a positive, safe and predictable environment for all pupils across your schools or trust
  • work with school leaders and your senior team to make sure professional development priorities are aligned with plans to improve your school or trust
  • work effectively in partnership with parents, the community and other schools and trusts
  • participate in governance and be fully transparent and accountable

Note: programme content is subject to change.

How you’ll learn

The content is delivered through a mix of real-time, interactive online clinics and self-guided modules you complete in your own time. You will put what you learn into practice across your schools or trust, tracking your progress and getting feedback as you go. You will also benefit from one-to-one coaching sessions led by experts and peer-based learning.

Note: programme content is subject to change.


You can join our central cohort for this programme, or work with a delivery partner in your region for an experience that’s more tailored to your local context. Either way, we work to give you the best possible experience.

What our partners can do for you

Ambition Institute provides high-quality content and materials, built on our experience in schools and our deep knowledge of the evidence and practice.

Our partner in your region will contextualise this knowledge and manage your experience on the programme, from high-quality facilitation to day-to-day support.

Tailored approaches

Our partner in your region will provide more information on how your NPQ will be delivered. The timings and methods of activity, sizes of cohorts and the cost of the programme may vary across delivery partners.


The assessment window starts at the end of the 18-month programme and runs for three months. During this time, participants will be given an eight-day window to sit an ‘open book’ style assessment in which they respond to a short case study.

There are two assessment windows every year, and participants can sit the assessment two times, if they need to.

You need to complete the course to qualify for the NPQ accreditation.

We will offer a webinar and live clinic in advance of the assessment window to support participants.



NEW: as of the 12 October, the Department for Education extended scholarship funded eligibility to all state funded schools and state funded organisations that offer 16-19 places in England.

DfE-funded scholarships are available for this NPQ. They are available to those who meet the following criteria:

  • Are, or are aspiring to be, an executive headteacher or have a school trust CEO role with responsibility for leading several schools.
  • Work in a state-funded school or organisations that offer 16-19 places in England.

Contact us to find out if you’re eligible.

If you do not work in an eligible school, the National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership costs £4,090 plus VAT.

If you believe you are eligible for scholarship funding, once you have completed an expression of interest with us, you will also need to register for your NPQ using the DfE’s online registration portal here.


Applications are now open for our February 2022 cohort. Start your application here.

If you have any questions, fill out this quick enquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch.

To apply, you must be a school leader who is, or is aspiring to be, an executive headteacher or have a school trust CEO role with responsibility for leading several schools.

Places are only available to those working in schools in England.

Interested in the programme?