IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


UCL NPQ deferral and withdrawal policy

Provisional March 2022

Table of contents

  1. Guiding Principles
  2. Deferral
  3. Withdrawal
  4. Appendices

1. Guiding Principles

1.1 During the course of an NPQ programme it is possible that the circumstances under which a participant began their programme will change and as a consequence make it challenging for them to complete that programme. In such a situation the participant has the following options: 

1. Continue with the programme with additional support from their school, Delivery Partner or UCL. 

2. Defer to a later cohort of their chosen programme. 

3. Withdraw from the programme. 

1.2 It is the aim of UCL to enable as many participants as possible to continue and successfully complete their chosen programmes as part of their original cohorts. To support participants in achieving this we provide alternative activities when participants are unable to attend synchronous sessions and there is flexibility regarding the timing and completion of other programme components.

1.3 Any participant faced with a change of circumstances that presents a serious challenge to their ability to meet the programme requirements should in the first instance read the UCL NPQ Deferrals and Withdrawals Policy and then review their options with their line manager and delivery partner before making a final decision regarding deferral or withdrawal.

2. Deferral

2.1 There are two different types of deferral that may be considered and these are covered seperately below: 

a) Deferall from participation in the programme itself i.e. that covered by the 90% engagement requirement for successful completion of the programme (the learning journey) to continue at a later date. 
b) Deferral from completing the summative assessment task within the allocated eight day window at the end of the programme to complete in a later window.

In-programme deferral

2.2 Participants may defer from their current programme cohort in four main circumstances:

  • Parental leave
  • Long-term sickness
  • Family sickness/ bereavement
  • Being subject to investigation, suspension or capability procedures

2.3 It is unlikely that in-programme deferral would be granted in the following circumstances: 

  • Short term sickness 
  • Change of role or employer
  • Level of workload 
  • Ofsted inspection This is because the flexibility of the programme components that make up the learning journey should allow participants to work around such circumstances. 

The asynchronous components may be completed at a time that best suits individual participants and alternative learning activities that meet the engagement criteria are available for participants unable to attend synchronous sessions. It is the firm view of UCL and its Delivery Partners that where possible it is in the interests of all participants to complete their NPQ programme with their chosen cohort and so avoid a potential lengthy delay in securing the qualification (see 2.5 below). Clearly this is unlikely to be possible in the circumstances described in 2.2 above. 

2.4 The length of a deferral will be determined by UCL as the Lead Provider on a case by case basis depending upon individual circumstances. There is no limit on the time a deferral may last.

2.5 Participants who accept a deferral from their programme should be aware that when they resume their learning journey they will be joining a later cohort and the practicalities of this will in part determine the deferral length. It is possible that in some circumstances participants will re-start their programme with a later cohort. 

2.6 A participant who is deferred from their programme will automatically be deferred from their original summative assessment window. They will be informed of their revised assessment window as part of the process of identifying the length of their deferral and the cohort with which they will resume their programme.

Summative assessment deferral

2.7 Participants are strongly encouraged to complete the summative assessment task within their allocated window if at all possible. The eight calendar days allowed for writing their task response should give more than sufficient time for all participants, including those needing more than the usual time, to access, understand and respond to materials. It is estimated that it will take between four and nine hours to complete the Assessment Case Study, depending on working styles. 

2.8 UCL will consider allowing a participant to defer their summative assessment in a limited set of circumstances including: 

  • The participant is taken ill and absent from work as a result 
  • The participant’s school is subject to severe disruption e.g. due to staffing shortages 
  • The participant’s school is subject to Ofsted inspection 
  • The participant is called for jury service  
  • The participant is affected by a bereavement 
  • The participitant is affected by the suddent illness of a close family member 

2.9 Participants deferred from their original programme cohort are automatically deferred to a later assessment window and will not need to apply for a separate deferral.

The processes for applying for a deferral

2.10 Should a participant feel that they need to request a deferral period from the programme itself (i.e. take a break from the learning journey) due to extenuating circumstances the steps below should be followed: 

  1. Participants should consult the Deferral and Withdrawal Policy to check the proposed extenuating circumstances meet the criteria for a deferral (programme extension). 
  2. The participant should then speak to their Line Manager in the first instance to discuss their situation in order to ascertain if arrangements can be made to enable them to continue as part of their original cohort. 
  3. If this is not possible the participant should then speak to their Programme Faciliator/Delivery Partner who will discuss the deferral process, timelines and programme implications. 
  4. The Programme Facilitator/Delivery Partner will then inform the UCL NPQ Team using a template provided by UCL, submitted via Teams [Appendix A In-Programme Deferral Request Form] to inform the reasons for deferral, the length of proposed deferral time and the options discussed with the participant. 
  5. An NPQ Programme Leader (usually that Programme Leader responsible for Operations) will then contact the participant directly to confirm the deferral and discuss the process for returning to the programme. This conversation will involve confirming the programme components covered by the participant to date for the purposes of meeting the enagement criteria and identifying which cohort they will join to complete their programme. 
  6. This conversation will be recorded on a template [Appendix B In-Programme Deferral Decision Form] and stored in the Teams area. Contact email address for returning participants to be placed on UCL Extend. 

2.11 Should a participant feel that they need to request a deferral period from the eight day assessment writing window (i.e. postpone their completion of summative assessment) due to extenuating circumstances the steps below should be followed:

  1. Participants should consult the Deferral and Withdrawals Policy to check the proposed extenuating circumstances meet the criteria for a deferral (summative assessment postponement). 
  2. Participants who request a deferral from submitting for assessment must notify UCL at the earliest opportunity prior to, during or immediately after the the eight day window. 
  3. An NPQ Programme Leader (usually that Programme Leader responsible for Assessment) will then contact the participant directly to discuss the deferral and the conversation will be recorded on a template [Appendix C Summative Assessment Deferral Decision Form] and stored in the Teams area. 
  4. Deferrals from summative assessment will only be confirmed once an email from the participant’s headteacher has been received confirming the grounds for deferral. Where the participant is a headteacher or executive leader then the confirmation email will come from their chair of governors or line manager. This confirmation email will be stored in the Teams area. 
  5. The next available submission window will then be offered to the participant. 
  6. NPQonline will be informed of the deferral of the participant to the next assessment window. 

2.12 If a participant fails to submit their assessment case study response, but does not contact UCL to request a deferral then the following will apply: 

  1. If the failure is due to the participant being unable to contact UCL because of circumstances beyond their control such as the sudden onset of illness or an accident involving the participant then UCL will consider retrospectively deferring this participant onto the next assessment window. They will retain their two assessment opportunities. 
  2. If the participant has no justifiable reason for not contacting UCL regarding submitting their assessment this will be classed as a fail. The participant will therefore have used one of their two assessment opportunities and will be automatically moved to the next assessment window. Should the participant fail their assessment in that window they will not be able to re-sit. 

3. Withdrawal 

3.1 A participant considering withdrawal from an NPQ Programme should be aware that it is Department for Education Policy to only fund an NPQ course for a participant once. This means that a participant who starts a Department for Education NPQ course, and then withdraws from or fails that course, will not be funded again for the same programme. 

3.2 Please note that the stipulation outlined in 3.1 does not apply to participants not funded by the Department for Education. If a non-funded participant withdraws from a NPQ programme they are still eligible for scholarship funding should they subsequently work in an eligible school and apply to undertake the same NPQ programme again. 

3.3 Should a participant still wish to withdraw after reading the guidance in the UCL NPQ Deferrals and Withdrawals Policy then the following process should be followed: 

  1. The participant should discuss their intent to withdraw with their Line Manager to establish if they could continue with support or to consider whether deferral is a more appropriate course of action. 
  2. A follow-up discussion should then take place between the Line manager and the Delivery Partner to inform the latter of this decision and the rationale behind it. 
  3. If all of the above parties agree that a withdrawal is the most appropriate option for the participant then a link to the Withdrawal Form [Appendix D] will be provided by the Delivery Partner. 
  4. The participant completes the Withdrawal Form and no further action from them is required. 
  5. The UCL NPQ Team will then formally process the withdrawal including informing the Department for Education and removing the participant’s UCL eXtend access with immediate effect. 
  6. After this point no further funding for the participant will be provided to UCL or the relevant Delivery Partner for the programme in question by the Department for Education. 
  7. If a participant does not complete the Withdrawal Form UCL has the authority as the the Lead Provider to withdraw them from their NPQ programme without their formal consent. 


A. In-Programme Deferral Request Form

This form is to be completed by the Delivery Partner at Stage 4 of the In-Programme Deferral Process.

The form will be provided by UCL upon request.

B. In-Programme Deferral Decision Form

This form will be completed by a UCL NPQ Programme Leader following Stage 5 of the In-Programme Deferral Process.

C. Summative Assessment Deferral Decision Form

This form will be completed by a UCL NPQ Programme Leader following Stage 3 of the Summative Assessment Deferral Process.

D. Withdrawal Form

This form will be completed by the participant as Stage 4 of the Deferral process.