Institute of Education


National Professional Qualifications

Our new specialist and leadership programmes start in November 2021. Information about how to register and apply is below.

Application Update: Scholarships available for all teachers and leaders

The DfE have changed the scholarship criteria to make NPQs free for all teachers and leaders employed in state funded schools and state funded organisations that offer 16-19 places in England to support teachers and pupils following the disruption to learning faced as a result of COVID-19. 

As a result, UCL have extended the registration deadline for cohort 1 applications until 31 October 2021

Please register on DfE NPQ Registration Service platform. Once registered, a short UCL application form will be sent to applicants for completion by 5 November 2021.

 The UCL Centre for Educational Leadership is proud to have again been designated as a Department for Education (DfE) approved provider for all of the reformed National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). UCL has delivered the programmes since their inception in 1997. 

National Professional Qualifications overview

The qualifications are delivered in collaborative partnership between UCL, regional, national and international delivery partners.

Our university and school partners have drawn on their leadership professional learning expertise to design the following evidence informed programmes.

  • NPQ Leading Teaching (NPQLT) - designed for teachers who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading teaching in a subject, year group, key stage or phase.
  • NPQ Leading Teacher Development (NPQLTD) - designed for teachers who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading the development of other teachers in their school. They may have responsibilities for the development of all teachers across a school or specifically trainees or teachers who are early in their career.
  • NPQ Leading Behaviour and Culture (NPQLBC) - designed for teachers who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading behaviour and/or supporting pupil wellbeing in their school.
  • NPQ Senior Leadership (NPQSL) - designed for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities. 
  • NPQ Headship (NPQH) - designed for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school. 
  • Additional Support Offer for New Headteachers - This bespoke programme consists of tailored resources, coaching and peer networking opportunities to support ongoing professional development and wellbeing. The additional support offer is designed for those in their first two years of headship who:
    • are currently taking the existing NPQH
    • will be undertaking the new reformed NPQH in November 2021 or 
    • have completed a NPQH in the past and within their first 2 years of headship.

The anticipated start date will be in February 2022. The dates to be confirmed.

  • NPQ Executive Leadership (NPQEL) - designed for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, an executive headteacher or a school trust CEO with responsibility for leading several schools.

National Professional Qualification Leaders

  • Annette Beard FRSA, Associate Professor (Teaching) ) and Fellow of Chartered College of Teachers (FCCT)
  • Dr Andy Hodgkinson, FRSA, FCCT, Programme Leader
  • Steve Welding, Programme Leader
  • Joanne Calladine- Evans, FCCT Associate Programme Leader 
  • Dr James Mannion, FCCT, Programme Leader
Why choose a UCL NPQ?

UCL Institute of Education is ranked number one globally for Education in the QS World University Rankings. Our present NPQs have been rated outstanding and over 95% of participants would recommend working with us.

Our NPQs are designed and delivered with national partners who share our belief in equity and research-informed professional development that supports educational leaders to develop their leadership practice.

Most of our programmes, uniquely, include an implementation or research project that allows new leadership learning to be applied in the work-place. 

Applying for a UCL NPQ

A guide for prospective participants

Before applying for one of the new NPQ programmes due to begin in November 2021 it is important that prospective participants are aware that the process has changed from previous years. 

In common with the other eight Lead Providers of the new qualifications UCL Institute of Education will develop and design the programmes, but they will be facilitated by our local Delivery Partners. This means that someone wanting to undertake their NPQ with UCL Institute of Education will need to check that we have a partner accessible to them.

Another change from previous NPQ programmes is that before applying to UCL Institute of Education prospective participants must first register with the Department for Education.

Step 1: Explore

This step involves a prospective participant identifying which NPQ is right for them and choosing a preferred lead provider. Information about the programmes and our local partners can be found on the UCL Institute of Education website, the websites of our Delivery Partners or in the individual programme flyers. It is also crucial at this stage for a prospective participant to confirm that their head teacher supports their application.

Step 2: Register

This step involves a prospective participant registering with the DfE and choosing the UCL Institute of Education as their Lead Provider. This is done through the DfE NPQ Registration Service platform and requires the following information from the prospective participant:

  • Teacher Registration Number (TRN)
  • Name as recorded by the Teacher Regulation Agency (TRA)
  • Choice of NPQ 
  • Choice of Lead Provider i.e. UCL Institute of Education

Once registration is complete the DFE will send the details to UCL Institute of Education.

The closing date for DfE Registration to be considered for a November start date has now been extended until 31 October to accommodate the extension of scholarships. Registrations received after that date will be considered for a February start.

Step 3: Apply

This step involves the prospective participant completing the UCL Institute of Education application form.

A link to this will be sent to them once the details of their registration are received by UCL Institute of Education from the DfE. You will need your headteacher/principal’s details and your line manager details. This needs to be returned within 5 days of receipt.

Once participants have registered with DfE they will be sent a short UCL application form which requires completion by 5 November at the absolute latest to be considered for a November start date.

Step 4: Begin

This step involves the participant being contacted by UCL Institute of Education’s local partner who will provide all the information they need prior to beginning their NPQ programme. Your local partner can be found in the Delivery Partner Network section right below.

Welcome emails will be sent out from 22 October 2021 for cohort 1. 

Inductions for the cohort 1 programmes will take place on the following dates:

  • Specialist NPQs - 16 and 17 November 2021 (you have a choice of which day to attend).
  • NPQSL/H - 18 and 24 November 2021 (you have a choice of which day to attend).
  • NPQEL - 24 November 2021 (there is one day for all participants).
Delivery Partner Network (NPQs)

Collaboration lies at the heart of our success and we have developed a nationwide network of partnerships with the newly established Teaching School Hubs (TSHs) and other Delivery Partners who wish to work with us. We are very excited about working nationally and internationally on the programmes with all our Delivery Partners who are listed below.

Balcarras TSH (West/South West England)
contact: ejc@balcarras.gloucs.sch.uk

CATS International (London, Canterbury, Cambridge)
contact: ewilkinson@catscanterbury.com

Coventry and Central Warwickshire TSH (Midlands)
contact: tshub@lawrencesheriffschool.com

East London TSH
contact: info@eastlondontsh.org

East Manchester TSH (Manchester and North West England)
contact: info@eastmanchesterteachinghub.com

Inspire TSH (Liverpool and North West)
contact: ciarao’connor@st.johnplessington.com

Milton Keynes Educational Leadership Partnership
contact david.balderstone@milton-keynes.gov.uk

North East London TSH
contact: neltshadmin@wsfg.waltham.sch.uk

Odyssey TSH (West/South West England)
contact: admin@odysseytsh.org

South Central TSH (South England)
contact: i.hunkin@southcentraltsh.com

South East London Partnership (Haberdashers and Odyssey lead)
contact: k.agboola@haaf.org.uk

Sussex Coast Schools Alliance
contact: helenhorsley@benfield.brighton-hove.sch.uk

Teach West London TSH
contact: info@teachwestlondon.org.uk

Teaching School Hub Berkshire
contact: janetroberts@lgs.slough.sch.uk

The Collegiate Trust: Riddlesdown School (Croydon, Crawley and localities)
contact: Linda.Harvey@tct-academies.org

Wandle TSH (South West London)
contact: dwallace@chestnutgrove.org.uk


Currently, the DfE have changed scholarship criteria to make NPQs free for all teachers and leaders employed in state funded schools and state funded organisations that offer 16-19 places in England to support teachers and pupils following the disruption to learning faced as a result of COVID-19.

Programme fees

The price for teachers working in maintained schools who are not eligible for scholarships is below. This price also applies to independent schools in England.

This is the price agreed with DfE for volume discounts and is only available to those that apply for the programme through the DfE Digital Service. There are separate price schedules for British International Schools on request.

NPQ for Leading Teaching - £885. VAT is not applicable.
NPQ for Leading Behaviour and Culture - £885. VAT is not applicable.
NPQ for Leading Teacher Development - £885. VAT is not applicable.
NPQ for Senior Leadership - £1055. VAT is not applicable.
NPQ for Headship - £1885. VAT is not applicable.
Additional Support Offer for New Head Teachers - £800. VAT is not applicable.
NPQ for Executive Leadership - £4099. VAT is not applicable.

Benefits to participants

Working with UCL and our delivery partners, participants will have:

  • access to world-leading research, evidence informed practice and knowledge exchange
  • an increased awareness and understanding of self as leader and of the behaviours needed to lead teams, schools or a group of schools
  • increased leadership confidence to implement school improvement, drive culture and ethos, curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment and develop organisational effectiveness for the leadership level you are working at
  • time to reflect on leadership practice and to network with a wide range of school leaders
  • access to bespoke UCL Library resources.

Benefits to schools

Working with UCL, schools will:

  • develop a strategic approach to leadership focused on improving pupil outcomes
  • access programmes designed to enhance staff wellbeing, agency, recruitment and retention within your organisation
  • engage in a joined-up approach to school improvement in your school and region
  • grow leadership capacity built on evidence-informed practice that is responsive, agile and bespoke to your context.
Programme Structure

Each of the UCL NPQs is based on a common approach and includes the following components.


Learning audit and personal learning journal

Participants will use the audit to identify which aspects they are confident with and those that require development. They can then tailor aspects of the programme to their needs.

The personal learning journal will be a record of their learning, activities and, more importantly, focussed reflections through the programme. Each module has a dedicated learning audit.

Face to face events

These will be facilitated learning events e.g. the induction conference at specialist level and the face to face events within the leadership programmes. They will be designed to adapt to the current Covid situation.

Online learning

A wide range of self directed online learning activities designed to be accessed over short periods to reduce the impact on work-load. Online materials provide preparation for the face to face / live sessions and provide essential content to support each module. 

Peer learning group

These are semi facilitated groups of six, similar to action learning sets. Participants will be assigned to the same group of six throughout the programme so allow peer support for the implementation project.

Specialist Learning Communities

For all groups there will be specialist learning communities on UCL eXtend. These will be specific to programmes, but also specific to subjects and phases. You will be able to talk with participants both nationally and globally.

Work based application

The implementation project will be the tool that is used to apply your learning from the programme. This will be agreed with your line manager who will meet with you each term to provide support and challenge on the development of the project. The projects will be presented at the consolidation conference at the end of the programme.


There will be formative assessment opportunities during the programme. The summative assessment follows the formal part of the programme using a case study approach which needs to be completed within an eight day window.

Carl Rogers: “We cannot teach another person, we can only facilitate her/ his learning” (in Knowles, 1998, p.46).


Below we have included some quotes from participants, facilitators and headteachers about their experience of working with UCL CEL and our school partners. We hope that these will inspire you and encourage you to apply to us as a National Provider for the NPQs.

It was always a high priority, as a headteacher, to provide my staff with a career pathway which focused on leadership from their early career. Every teacher is a leader from day one and needs support in learning how to grow and develop their teams to enable successful school improvement to take place for the benefit of the children. In a small school, teachers, will after their first year of teaching, become subject leaders requiring another set of leadership skills. The NPQs provided my staff with an opportunity to: explore leadership strategies, which developed their ability to communicate their vision more effectively with other stakeholders and to plan for change ; to recognise their own leadership traits, how these might impact on others and how they can build an ethos of trust and collaboration; to consider ways of managing their time more effectively; to look at change models and how others might react to change; and to explore the benefits of working in partnership.

I found that staff completing the NPQs grew in confidence as leaders, cultivated enthusiastic teams within their classes, and the school, that achieved successful school improvement. As a Teaching School, we ran local clusters of the NPQs working with UCL, which provided high quality professional development for staff with an opportunity to grow their confidence as leaders and to provide opportunities to discuss their leadership journey."

Claire Rivers FFCCT, Women in Education Coach, Ex Headteacher of St Mark’s CEP School, Teaching School Director and Chair of the Sussex and East Sussex Teaching School Network.
I started my journey into leadership by completing the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders (NPQML). This gave me much improved confidence and made me think more as a leader. The course really inspired me and allowed me to develop and grow into an effective leader. The face-to-face sessions, delivered by inspirational leaders, truly gave me the drive to improve, take risks and reflect on my own practice.

I then completed the NPQSL and began to focus on impact and improving standards for the whole school. Again, this was a fantastic course with excellent content. Being able to think strategically and meet like-minded leaders was a fantastic opportunity. The NPQ courses linked theory and practice perfectly. It gave me the confidence to lead a team of professionals and gave me the skills to reflect and monitor impact. I could not recommend the programmes highly enough working with my local cluster and UCL the support given at all levels is fantastic. I am now Deputy Head teacher and leading the school for two days a week. Without completing these courses, I would not be in this privileged position where I get to support, develop and lead a fantastic team. I will be continuing my NPQ journey and will be completing the NPQH this year."

Simon Page, Deputy Head at Stonegate School, East Sussex
 As a federation of schools, the NPQs have been a focussed part of our leadership continuum. We have identified colleagues to participate in these programmes and over the last few years, over 20 of them have participated including moving from NPQML to NPQSL. The impact is very clear. Four secured Headship and the others have moved to senior positions within and outside of our federation. Many of them have been involved in supporting other schools in school development. We were also able to shift our Ofsted grading to good with outstanding leadership in a short space of time. More importantly, the impact on our children is clear to see. Our leaders have the understanding and ability to respond to change and lead developments for our pupils resulting in much better progress for our children."

Helen Horsley, Head of South Coast Alliance, member of the NPQ Governance group.
I love facilitating the NPQ programmes, not only is it a joy to work with so many great teacher leaders but it is a privilege to see the depth of learning that is experienced when teachers from different phases come together to learn. These programmes have an impact on participants professionally and personally and as a result benefit the pupils that they are working with."

Facilitator at St. Richard’s Catholic College
Great to meet other practitioners and share our experiences, challenges and successes with a view to self-developing. The course has made me consider other perspectives on features of teaching practice which I just took for granted. Leadership accreditation will look brilliant on your C.V. and the expert course leaders are welcoming, engaging and entertaining."

Participant at Beacon Community College
The NPQSL programme has allowed me dedicated time and space to work on key leadership skills and to explore research led material to drive forward specific change in my school. This change project, as part of our SDP, has had a direct impact on pupil progress for all pupils from 3-19, across three phases and is now going to be embedded into the continuous cycle within the school as it is effective and sustainable. I have enjoyed the local cluster delivery of the NPQSL, meeting other leaders and discussing relevant leadership issues especially during the Covid-19 year. The use of Zoom to enable the NPQSL programme to continue was an asset."

I undertook the UCL Institute of Education NPQSL in the 2017-18 academic year, at a point when I was reviewing the direction of my career. Having mainly worked in curriculum focused roles, I was keen to challenge myself by pursuing SEND/inclusion based leadership roles. I found the in-person training engaging and thorough. It was a really positive experience as the facilitators were all in senior leadership positions themselves and were able to discuss the theoretical aspects of the course from the standpoint of experiencing them. I enjoyed the networking aspect of the course as well, learning from peers from a range of different schools who brought their varying experiences to the course. My ‘in-school’ cohort also provided a supportive team environment, especially when it came to discussing how our projects were going. For me the focus on leading change was a real highlight, and the strategies I learned on the course have stayed with me and informed my leadership practice, for example in leading a TA review, and planning Year 6 transition in the midst of a global pandemic!

More than anything, completing the NPQSL helped restore my confidence in my abilities following a challenging period in my life, and restored my ambition to become a senior leader. During the course I was appointed SENDCo, an SLT level role, and since then I have been promoted to Assistant Head for Inclusion, so I have successfully realised my ambitions since undertaking the course. It’s hard work, sometimes challenging but very rewarding and I am glad of the skills and knowledge I gained from the NPQSL."

I would highly recommend the NPQSL for anyone looking to make the transition from Middle to Senior Leadership. One of the key strengths of the programme was that it guided and gave me space (with excellent literature and skilled facilitators) to be reflective about the type of senior leader I wished to become. I now feel much more confident in 'sharing a vision' and 'implementing change'. As a result of the 'Leading Effective Partnerships' module I now have a greater understanding of the importance of developing relationships with stakeholders beyond the immediate school community. Investing in this programme at the start of anyone's senior leadership journey will not only help you to lead with impact and maybe avoid some of those new role pitfalls but will also mean that the staff and students you work with in your school community will flourish under your leadership. 

The UCL Institute of Education NPQSL was a very important stage in my career development. The reading material was excellent and the workshop sessions were lively and provocative. The school project that I organised gave me enormous insight into successful leadership. Completing an NPQSL gave me the confidence to apply for and be offered a senior leadership post. Highly recommended."

I took part in the NPQSL programme in 2016 and absolutely relished the experience. I benefited hugely from the opportunity to think, plan and reflect critically, intellectually and strategically on issues of leadership and management both independently and collegiately with other professionals with similar yet interestingly varied roles and responsibilities. The topics and material covered were well-pitched and appropriately challenging and facilitated engaging and useful discussions which enabled tangible ideas, suggestions and actions to be generated. The programme became a direct support and motivator to my daily experience as a senior leader acting as a clear catalyst in the impact of my work as much as my personal professional development. I would certainly recommend the programme as an effective way to develop and hone the necessary skills and qualities needed for successful senior leadership."


I have really enjoyed taking part in the NPQML to have professional discussions with colleagues across my local area about how best to use educational research in order to lead with impact. It has encouraged me to launch a project which has been a rewarding experience and had a positive impact on the students I teach. The course is well structured and thought out, I have been impressed with their flexibility during the pandemic. How it made me grow as a leader: It has given me more focus and made me more reflective and strategic. I would really recommend this to staff who are looking to become a middle leader or who have recently taken on this responsibility."