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National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL)

This 18-month programme is for senior leaders, or those aspiring, with cross-school responsibilities such as deputy headteachers.

Develop your leadership knowledge and expertise to improve outcomes for teachers and pupils in your school.

  • Gain an NPQ Senior Leadership accreditation
  • Enjoy flexible training to suit your timetable
  • Fully funded for disadvantaged settings
  • Learn from leadership experts
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Why us?

Choose our NPQ for Senior Leadership 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.

NPQ scholarship funding has changed for autumn 2024! Check if you're eligible here.

Evidence-informed curriculum
Benefit from our evidence-informed curriculum to help you put your learning into practice in your school or trust.

Develop skills on school improvement
Throughout the course, you’ll develop your knowledge and skills on school improvement at the senior leadership 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 NPQSL 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

Build your confidence
Learn how to excel as a leader and get the support you need to take the next step in your career.

Access the latest research
Benefit from the latest evidence-based learning and approaches to great teaching and leadership. See how it can improve schools and change lives.

Enact positive change
Translate what you’ve learned on this programme to your own school context. We'll help you do this by providing models and examples that seek to make the link between theory and practice concrete.

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 a common knowledge base
NPQ qualifications are aligned, so you can have confidence that all your educators will share a common language and framework to develop your school or trust.

Support your leaders
Senior leaders will be given the tools to drill down into specific areas of leadership to improve their knowledge, make evidence-informed decisions and action positive change.

Learn from evidence
Senior Leaders will be introduced to evidence-informed practices straightaway. This will help them develop strategies to improve teaching and pupil performance at your school.

Make a leadership pipeline
The programme will help to identify future leaders and create a positive culture where teachers can develop and thrive.

Boost attainment
Studies show that high-quality continuous 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 NPQSL programme for?
The NPQ for Senior Leadership is designed for serving senior leaders, or teachers aspiring, with cross-school responsibilities.

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

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

Is the NPQSL programme fully funded?
The NPQ for Senior Leadership is DfE-funded for teachers and school leaders who work in the most challenging schools or educational settings, serving more disadvantaged communities in England. Find out more about the eligibility criteria in the 'Funding' tab.

Are there any specific requirements to enrol on the NPQSL programme?
To be eligible for the NPQ for Senior Leadership, you must be a serving senior leader in a school or eligible organisation in England have completed your early career training.


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

You will learn how to:

  • Set clear goals and communicate shared values that improve the culture in your classrooms and school
  • Establish a safe and positive environment 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
  • 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 colleagues know their responsibilities.

Note: programme content is subject to change.

How you'll learn

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

Over 18 months, our NPQSL includes:

  • Two full day conferences (6hrs each).
  • Nine courses (each course lasts six weeks and is loosely aligned to a school half term).
  • Each course includes six modules.
  • Six 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! DfE-funded scholarships for this NPQ will target those teachers and leaders who work in the most challenging schools or educational settings, serving more disadvantaged communities.

For the NPQ for Senior Leadership, funded scholarships will be available for those who meet the following criteria:

  • Are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities.
  • Work in the 50% of schools with the highest proportion of students who attract pupil premium funding and 16 to 19 educational settings identified as having high disadvantage in England.

Check if you're eligible!

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 eligibility information and including which schools and settings will be able to access this funding, to be provided by the Department for Education in the summer term.

If you don't work in an eligible school, the NPQ in Senior Leadership costs £1,139 plus VAT.

Get in touch to find out more here.



Register now to join our autumn 2024 cohorts>> Register by Tuesday 17 September for an October 2024 start.

Enquire here to find out more about our NPQs.

To apply, you must be, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities.

For example, you might be an assistant or deputy headteacher, or a head of department or faculty.

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?