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The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) is accredited by the Department for Education (DfE). The qualification is delivered by the Outstanding Leaders Partnership (OLP), a collaborative partnership of schools, teaching school alliances and multi-academy trusts, managed and supported by Best Practice Network. OLP is accredited by the DfE to provide the National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). NPQEL enables candidates to take strategic responsibility for leading across several schools..

Entry Requirements

NPQEL is suitable for colleagues aspiring to, or already in, leadership roles across more than one school. For example, headteachers, directors of school improvement, teaching school directors or heads of school. Candidates will need to demonstrate experience of headship and/or where they have led work across more than one school.

Benefits for candidates

National and international networking

Increased awareness and understanding of self and of the
behaviours needed to lead across multiple organisations

Time to reflect on leadship practice and ability to check
learning and development needs

Increased capability and capacity to take on a multi-school
organisation - having skills, knowledge and understanding
to do the job more effectively


Benefits for schools

Increased national partnership opportunities and insight into 
the systems, sectors and sources of effective leadship practice

Increased commitment to build relationships with a range of
stakeholders within the organisation and the wider community

A professionally aware and informed leader who can make
evidence-based decisions and approach new challenges in
an effective and efficient manner

The ability to review and evaluate practice in order to bring
about change and get the best for young people and staff
within the organisation


Qualification Components and Content

A Flexible Way to Learn

Our programmes offer a blended approach that mixes online learning through our award-winning virtual learning environment and face-to-face learning through our national network of school based providers. Each candidate gets access to a dedicated learning coach, mentor or tutor, as well as regular opportunities to network and collaborate with their course colleagues. 

See how the qualification components will be distributed across the 12-18 months with our qualification schedule.

The qualification covers 6 content areas which set out what a leader should know or should be able to do, and 7 leadership behaviours which set out how the best leaders operate. The content areas have been embedded within 3 online courses, with the leadership behaviours explored during the facilitated events.


Task 1

Candidates must design a sustainable business development strategy for their organisation, analysing the benefits, costs and risks of different options. They must then present their chosen strategy to their governing board and submit a written account of the project covering the design, implementation and evaluation.

Task 2

Candidates must lead a project to improve progress and attainment in several schools. They must present their plans to a group of relevant stakeholders and submit a written account of the project covering the design, implementation and evaluation.

Project scripts and supporting evidence are assessed in accordance with a mark scheme provided by the DfE and are subject to national moderation.

What's next?

Candidates that achieve the NPQEL may choose to continue their professional development through the completion of a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). Professionally, NPQEL graduates may choose to apply for executive leadership roles such as CEO or COO of a MAT, executive Headteacher posts or similar.

Masters Accreditation

The qualification has been developed in collaboration with Liverpool Hope University (LHU) to be delivered at Masters level 7. Candidates successful in achieving the qualification have the opportunity to accrue credits towards a PG Cert and Masters Accreditation with LHU.