National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)

This course is for headteachers, or those aspiring to be one.

You will develop the knowledge that underpins expert school leadership and apply it to become an outstanding headteacher.

  • An 18-month leadership qualification
  • Flexible learning to suit your timetable
  • Combine insight and practice to drive change
  • Fully funded for autumn 2024 cohorts
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Why us?

Choose our NPQ for Headship and you’ll be joining over 29,000 teachers and school leaders (as of March 2024), who have decided on Ambition to complete their NPQ since they were launched in 2021.

Evidence informed curriculum
Our carefully sequenced and evidence informed NPQ is designed around the key problems you face. You'll learn to implement your learning into practice in your school setting.

Access the latest research
Develop your knowledge and skills to lead school improvement at headship level. this programme aims to develop expertise that is flexible and allows participants to respond to the challenges they will encounter in a range of contexts.

Train to your timetable
Our 'little and often' approach means you'll need on average just one hour per week to engage in our NPQs, helping you to fit your NPQH around your timetable.

No large project
On our NPQs, there's no large project at the end. Instead, you'll sit an 'open book' assessment with support via a live webinar and clinics available to help you get the most from your NPQ.

Benefits for you

Learn crucial skills and sector knowledge
All the knowledge you’ll learn on this programme is drawn from a single, evidence-based framework shared by other educators across England.

Learning that sticks
Training is delivered little and often, in regular bite-sized chunks, so there are no long days of training that take you away from your day job. Learning in short, sharp bursts also helps you to retain knowledge.

Thrive in your school setting
Develop the knowledge and skills to work to the best of your ability and tackle the complexities and challenges of your daily role.

Drive habit change
Embedding new habits can be tricky. Our dual modules help you to apply what you learn, connecting theory to practice, to help those habits stick. Insight modules capture the very best the sector has to contribute on a given topic. Application modules help you to use the ideas in context, with support from peers.

Build your network
You’ll connect with other senior leaders, sharing your experiences and building a strong support network that lasts long after you finish the course.

Benefits for your school or trust

Create confident school leaders
Headteachers are equipped with school-focused leadership knowledge, which they can use to establish a culture and conditions where staff and pupils can thrive.

Underpinned by the latest evidence
The framework for the new NPQ for Headship was developed using the latest evidence on effective professional development for teachers and leaders, approved by the Education Endowment Fund (EFF).

Shared learning
Participants learn alongside colleagues whose context is similar, facilitated by delivery partners who know and understand your needs.

Create a common knowledge base
All our NPQs are aligned, meaning teachers and leaders share a common language and framework to drive improvement in their school.

Transform pupil outcomes
Education Policy Institute research shows that high quality professional development can improve pupil outcomes almost as effectively as having a teacher with 10 years’ experience in the classroom.*

Frequently asked questions

How to become a Headteacher?
You need to be a fully qualified teacher and show that you have worked in a senior position in the education sector.

Do I need NPQH to be a Headteacher?
No, you do not need the NPQH to be a headteacher. This requirement was removed in 2012 however, this qualification will still be beneficial for your professional development and applying for roles.

Who is the NPQH programme for?
The NPQ for Headship is designed for serving headteachers, or are aspiring to be a headteacher or head of school with a responsibility of leading a school.

How long does the NPQH programme last?
The NPQ for Headship is an eighteen month programme, with a mixture of live, facilitated sessions and self-directed learning.

How does the NPQH programme accommodate busy schedules?
The NPQ for Headship is designed to fit around your schedule with a 'little and often' approach that aligns with insights from the science of learning.

Is the NPQH programme fully funded?
The NPQ for Headship is fully funded for teachers and school leaders who work in eligible schools and organisations in England, by the Department for Education. Find out more about the eligibility criteria in the 'Funding' tab.

Are the any specific requirements to enrol on the NPQH programme?
To be eligible for the NPQ for Headship, you must be a serving teacher in a school or eligible organisation in England and have completed your early career training.

What is the NPQH assessment process like?
You’ll sit an ‘open book’ style assessment in which you respond to a short case study. The assessment window starts at the end of the programme and runs for three months. During this which, you’ll be given an eight-day window to complete the case study. We will offer a webinar and live clinic in advance of the assessment window to support you.


Our NPQ in Headship course follows the Department for Education’s National Professional Qualification: Headship.

On this programme, you will learn how to:

  • set clear goals and communicate shared values that improve classroom and school culture
  • lead effective implementation in educational settings
  • lead effective professional development to improve practice and outcomes for pupils.
  • support colleagues to meet individual needs and make sure all pupils have access to a rich curriculum
  • lead school-wide professional development for staff
  • establish good financial, human and educational resource management
  • make and act on evidence-informed decisions
  • work well with parents, carers, other schools and the wider community
  • lead by example, be accountable for decisions and make sure staff know their professional responsibilities.

Note: programme content is subject to change.

How you'll learn

Our NPQH is designed so you can engage in live, facilitated sessions alongside modules you can complete at any time.

Over 18 months, our NPQH includes:

  • A school visit.
  • Two full day conferences (6hrs each).
  • Nine courses (each course lasts six weeks and loosely aligned to a school half term).
  • Each course includes six modules.
  • Seven two-hour clinics (facilitated sessions).
  • One two-hour assessment clinic.
  • Five communities (1hr15mins group sessions).

The content is delivered through blended learning. This includes 12 hours of in-person delivery (via 2 full day conferences and in-person twilight sessions), a mix of real-time, interactive online sessions and self-guided modules you complete in your own time.

The programme includes facilitator-led sessions with your peer group that focus on decision making. The programme starts with a one-day live conference.

Note: programme content is subject to change.


Join a local cohort with one of our regional partners and benefit from our expert curriculum design along with a tailored experience linked to your local context.

If you are unable to find a local cohort, you can join Ambition’s national cohort and gain a national network of peers. Either way, we work to give you the best possible experience.

Find a cohort that’s local to you in our list of partners here

What our partners can do for you

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

Our partner in your region will put this knowledge into context and manage your experience on the programme, from facilitation to day-to-day support.

The timings and methods of activity, sizes of cohorts and the cost of the programme may vary across delivery partners.


Our NPQ courses no longer include a large project at the end. Instead, you’ll sit an ‘open book’ style assessment in which you respond to a short case study.

The assessment window starts at the end of the 18-month programme and runs for three months. During this time, you’ll be given an eight-day window to complete the 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 you.


NEW for autumn 2024! Department for Education NPQ scholarship funding is available to all publicly funded schools and 16 to 19 educational organisations in England.

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

  • Are, or are aspiring to be, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school.

If you're unsure whether you will qualify for this 'pupil premium' based on funding, please use our online eligibility check tool.

Scholarship-funded places are very limited, so access to funding will be subject to availability. To have the best chance of claiming a funded place, please apply as soon as possible once applications open.

*Currently nurseries are not available yet on the tool. If you work in a nursery, please contact us directly at [email protected]

We expect more information to be provided by the Department for Education in the summer term.

If you do not work in an eligible school, the NPQ in Headship costs £1,949 plus VAT.

Get in touch to find out more here.



Applications have now closed for our spring 2024 NPQ cohorts. We expect to be delivering NPQs in autumn 2024. Register your interest now to hear about future NPQ cohorts.

To apply, you must be or aspire to be a headteacher or head of school with a responsibility for leading a school.

NPQs are not suitable for active Early Career Teachers.

If you have any questions, email [email protected] and a member of our team will be in touch with next steps.

Interested in the programme?