The new NPQs: A guide to the key changes

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News - 15th Jun 2021

by Emma Rennison

From November 2021, a reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications (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. At the School-Led Network, we believe the new NPQs have the potential to transform professional development in schools. 

Here are the seven key changes you need to know about:

1. Evidence Informed

The new programme frameworks have been devised in collaboration with teachers, school leaders, academies, and an Expert Advisory Group.  All the frameworks have passed through an independent review by the EEF to verify that they are evidence-based and that the evidence has been interpreted with fidelity. This represents a significant change to existing leadership NPQs (NPQSL, NPQH and NPQEL) as well as the introduction of specialist qualifications.

2. Specialist Qualifications

The ‘NPQML’ has been discontinued and there are three new qualifications designed to develop specialist expertise in: 

  • Leading Behaviour and Culture
  • Leading Teacher Development
  • Leading Teaching

This specialist focus will mean participants undertake deep exploration of a specific leadership domain and enable schools to build capacity in a targeted area.

3. Professional Development Focus 

As well as having a specialist qualification for ‘Leading Teacher Development’, all qualifications include a strand dedicated to professional development. This will broaden the impact of the programmes by enabling those undertaking them to effectively develop their colleagues and build capability across their teams and schools.

4. Golden Thread

The reformed suite of qualifications builds on the evidence base in the revised framework for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and the implementation of the ECF. This forms the ‘golden thread’ running from initial teacher training through to school leadership which grounds teacher and school leader development in the same core evidence- base and a shared language.

5. Domain Specific 

In contrast to the previous NPQs, the reformed suite of qualifications focus more on the key domains of leadership that teachers and school leaders need to thrive and less on generic leadership styles.

6. Assessment 

There is no longer an in-school project to complete alongside the training element of the programme. Participants will complete an open-book assessment in an eight-day set window within 3 months of completion requiring a structured 1500-word response to a real multi-resource scenario/case-study.

7. Additional support for new headteachers

Alongside the new NPQH programme, an additional package of support for new heads in their first two years in role is available for free to all eligible participants. The programme is designed to help participants shift from ‘thinking like leaders’ to ‘acting like leaders’. 

Emma is the Executive Director of the Outwood Institute of Education (OIE).  Prior to her current role, Emma started working at Outwood Grange Academy in 2006 as a Teacher of English in her NQT year and worked leading the academy's training school, prior to the academy securing teaching school status and launching the OIE. She has a Masters in Teaching and Learning and is a designated Specialist Leader of Education.  Emma was also a part of the Expert Advisory Boards for the newly reformed NPQs and Career Progression.

School-Led Network is offering the full suite of new NPQs in collaboration with Delivery Partners in the North East, North West, Yorkshire and London. To find out more and apply, please click here.