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Reforming national professional qualifications to support the professional development of teachers and leaders

National professional qualifications (NPQs) are a national, voluntary suite of qualifications designed to support the professional development of teachers and leaders. 

From September 2021, a reformed suite of NPQs will be available for teachers and leaders who want to develop their knowledge and skills in school leadership and specialist areas of teaching practice. These reforms include:

  • reforming the 3 existing NPQs in senior leadership, headship and executive leadership
  • replacing the current NPQ in middle leadership with 3 new NPQs for teachers and leaders who want to develop their expertise in specialist areas of teaching practice

Scholarship funding to support participants to access the reformed suite of NPQs is planned from September 2021 and details will be confirmed in due course.

NPQs in specialist areas of teaching

The 3 new NPQs are:

  1. leading teacher development: supporting the training and development of others
  2. leading teaching: developing teachers who are subject leads or responsible for improving teaching practice in a subject or phase
  3. leading behaviour and culture: developing teachers who have responsibilities for leading behaviour and culture

Friday 20th Oct 2017:Tthe Department for Education has confirmed the new National Professional Qualifications available for teachers to sign up to.

The department has worked with experts from the education sector, and other sectors, to update and improve NPQs to give teachers what they need to be top class leaders – including a stronger emphasis on financial and risk management and improvement strategies for schools and staff.

The new, gold standard NPQs cover the full range of leadership roles in today’s school system, including, for the first time, a National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) for MAT leaders and executive headteachers.

Nick GibbMinister for School Standards Nick Gibb said:

“We want every child to reach their potential and great teachers, with strong leadership skills, are at the heart of this.

“I hope teachers across the country will feel inspired to sign up for these new, strengthened professional qualifications. They are part of our wider programme to improve the status of the teaching profession, including helping to set up the Chartered College of Teaching and investing £75million in high-quality professional development for teachers in the schools that need it most.”

The government’s plans to introduce new national professional qualifications (NPQs) and review existing NPQs.


National professional qualifications (NPQs) reforms



These reforms build on the commitments made in the teacher recruitment and retention strategy and the early career framework, announced in January 2019.

More information about existing NPQs is available at professional development for school leaders.

Published 3 July 2020
Last updated 11 May 2021 + show all updates

  1. Added the section ‘Additional support offer for the NPQH’.

  2. Updated with URLs for national professional qualifications lead training providers.

  3. Updated information about reformed NPQs to include the list of new leading providers.

  4. Update about the NPQ framework reforms from September 2020.

  5. First published.

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