A new dawn for the NPQH


Dr Jane Doughty on the new modularised approach to middle and senior leadership qualifications at the National College.

The latest group of aspiring headteachers began their journey to headship this term – undertaking the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).

For this group, their NPQH journey will be quite different from those that have gone before. The NPQH has undergone a transformation in the programme’s design and in how it’s delivered. It is now the first in a suite of qualifications offered by the National College to support school leaders at every stage of their career. They form part of our modular curriculum.

Based on five levels – from leading a team (Level 1) to leading beyond an organisation (Level 5) – the curriculum offers a range of leadership topics that can be studied on their own or combined to achieve a national qualification. Alongside NPQH, new qualifications for middle and senior leaders are available – the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership or for Senior Leadership. These replace existing programmes such as Leadership Pathways, the Middle Leadership Development Programme and Tomorrow’s Heads.

The direction of travel is changing – there is recognition that those who are best placed to improve performance and raise standards in our schools are great leaders and great teachers working together, sharing knowledge and expertise with each other.

However, work-based learning needs to take place in collaboration with other schools, not just in your own school. It also needs to be supported by learning materials drawn from an international research evidence base and structured opportunities for professional reflection. Our new approach acknowledges this move towards system-wide, school-based learning and our work is based on five key principles:

•Taking account of the needs of leaders and the education system.

•Drawing on the very best international research and evaluation evidence.

•Ensuring academic rigour and leadership practice.

•Involving school leaders in creating materials.

•Providing opportunities for modules to be adapted to reflect different contexts.

Each module involves around 50 hours of blended learning – work-based learning, face-to-face activity, peer groups and online learning. To gain a qualification you complete a number of these modules (some are compulsory, some you choose). The number of modules you need varies according to the qualification. You can also take some of the elective modules as standalone courses if you wish.

The modules are delivered by a group of licensees – some of our very best schools, together with universities and other training providers. These include national Teaching School Alliances, federations of schools and chains of academies. All licensees offer the same essential modules – such as leading teaching and managing systems and processes (for middle leaders) and succeeding in senior leadership and closing the gap (for senior leaders).

In order to reflect differing expertise and local priorities, a variety of elective modules are available through different licensees. Examples include leading change for improvement, leading staff and teams, school self-evaluation, effective partnership working, and leading professional development. 

Our aim in creating the modular curriculum is to provide leaders with a clear and comprehensive structure for career progression, but with the freedom to choose professional development most relevant to them, at a time they need it. NPQH is already well underway and the next application round opens on November 1. The qualifications for middle and senior leadership will be available from January 2013.


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