National Professional Qualification in Headship (NPQH)

Within 18 months, you will develop the knowledge that underpins expert school leadership and apply it to become an outstanding headteacher.

Apply now for a fully funded place while they're still available and start your NPQH in February 2024.

  • One of a series of new, evidence-informed NPQs
  • Flexible learning to suit your timetable
  • Combine insight and practice to drive change
  • Gain an NPQ Headship accreditation
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Why us?

Choose our NPQ in Headship and you’ll be joining over 25,000 teachers and school leaders (as of November 2023), who have decided on Ambition to complete their NPQ since they were launched in 2021.

On our NPQH, you’ll benefit from our evidence-informed curriculum to help you put your learning into practice in your school setting.

Throughout the course, you’ll 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.

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.

And with our growing network, you’ll train alongside fellow teachers with similar responsibilities, with content focusing on the key challenges you face in your role.

Plus, 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

Enjoy flexible learning
This programme is designed to fit around your timetable and most of the work can be completed at times that suit 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

Who is the NPQH programme for?
The NPQ in 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 in 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 in 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 in Headship is fully funded for teachers and school leaders, at 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 in Headship, you must be a serving teacher in a school or eligible organisation in England and have completed your early career training.


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.

The first conference for the Ambition national NPQH spring cohort will take place on Thursday 8 February 2024 and will be held in the West Midlands at the CBS Arena, Coventry. Partner cohort locations and dates may vary.

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 central cohort and gain a national network of peers or you can choose an NPQ cohort in your area with one of our regional partners with all the contextual benefits of your area.

With our regional partners, you’ll benefit from our expert curriculum design along with a more tailored experience linked to your local context. 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.


Don’t miss out on a fully funded NPQ! Our February 2024 cohorts are currently our last intake to be fully funded by the DfE.

The Department for Education NPQ scholarship funding is available to all state schools and state funded organisations, including those that offer 16-19 age places in England.

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

  • Have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading the development of other teachers in their school.
  • Work in a state-funded school or organisations, including those that offer 16-19 age places in England.

Extended eligibility.

Organisations now eligible to access scholarships include:

  • independent special schools.
  • virtual schools (Local Authority run organisations that support the education of children in care).
  • hospital schools not already included in other categories of eligible organisations.
  • young offender institutions.

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

Support fund for small schools

The DfE have introduced a new Targeted Support Fund for small schools, to enable them to support their teachers and leaders to undertake the NPQs.

There is a grant payment of £200 per participant to settings with 1-600 pupils for every teacher or leader they employ who participates on an NPQ.

This per teacher payment increases to £800 where the employing organisation is a primary school with 1-150 pupils.

Get in touch to find out more here.



Applications for our spring cohorts are open. Start your application here.

Apply by Tuesday 16 January for a February 2024 start.

Don’t miss out on a fully funded NPQ! Our February 2024 cohorts are currently our last intake to be fully funded by the DfE.

Alternatively, please fill out this quick enquiry form to register your interest and find out more about the programme.

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.

Conference one for the Ambition national NPQH programme will take place on Thursday 8 February 2024 and will be held in the West Midlands at the CBS Arena, Coventry. Partner cohort locations and dates may vary.

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?