Bridget Clay - Head of Programmes for School Leadership at Teach First
Bridget Clay
Director of School Leadership at Teach First

7 ways our new NPQs will support your school

Teach First is delighted to be named a lead provider for the DfE-accredited National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), delivering from autumn 2021. 

Being a school leader is one of the most important jobs in the world. A successful leadership team empowers teachers and enables pupils to succeed and thrive. However, not all school leaders can always access the support and development they deserve – 63% of senior leaders say their school does not provide enough leadership opportunities.

At Teach First, we’re committed to supporting brilliant leaders, working with over a thousand leaders a year serving disadvantaged communities. We’re excited to be building on that support by delivering the reformed NPQs based on the DfE’s new frameworks.

This sees the launch of six updated or new accreditations:

  • NPQ in Leading Teaching (NPQLT) – aimed at teachers and school leaders who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading teaching in a subject or year. For example, head of subject, key stage head or head of department.
  • NPQ in Leading Behaviour and Culture (NPQLBC) – aimed at teachers and school leaders who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading behaviour and/or supporting pupil wellbeing in their school. For example, head of year or roles with other pastoral responsibilities.
  • NPQ in Leading Teacher Development (NPQLTD) – aimed at teachers and school leaders who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading the development of other teachers in their school, for example CPD lead or ITT lead.
  • NPQ in Senior Leadership (NPQSL) – aimed at school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities.
  • NPQ in Headship (NPQH) – aimed at school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school. There is also additional support available for headteachers in their first two years of role.
  • NPQ in Executive Leadership (NPQEL) – aimed at school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, an executive headteacher or have a school trust CEO role with responsibility for leading several schools.

We are excited to be designing and delivering across all six accreditations. Here’s seven ways our NPQs will support you and your school.

1. Our NPQs recognise and build on existing expertise

We know that new school leaders will have a variety of experience, and different leaders will have different expertise in some domains, whilst being novices in others. There is also core knowledge that all teachers and leaders need to have, and leaders will be at different stages of needing to refresh and build that knowledge or not.

This means that we have deliberately built flexibility into our design, so that you can assess your existing knowledge, and target your learning so that it is personalised to always build on what you already know. By delivering through a blend of online and in-person, our model has the flexibility to support all leaders, no matter their starting point.

2. Practice-based and designed with schools

We are focused on delivering programmes that will support leaders to put their learning into practice. This means that our content has practice opportunities built in, with tasks and seminars focussed on practising and applying new learning to your context.

We are also working closely with schools and existing leaders to ensure that our content is rich with practical examples and tools to support you to apply what you learn to your context. We know that you will want an NPQ that helps you develop in the long-term, but also helps you make improvements in your school right now. By working closely with current serving leaders, our content is closely reviewed and tested to make sure it works for you and your schools.

3. Focused on disadvantage

We know education is not fair and too many children aren’t getting the education they deserve. In 2018, we found that 14% of schools in UK’s poorest communities were given the worst Ofsted scores for leadership, compared to 5% in wealthier areas. At Teach First we want to make sure that schools that teach the most disadvantaged pupils get the best leadership training and support.

We’re really pleased that DfE scholarship funding is focussed on schools serving disadvantaged communities – schools that are in the top thirtieth percentile of pupils receiving the pupil premium will have funded access to the NPQs.

However, we know that is can be hard to find the bandwidth to implement new learning really effectively. Therefore, at Teach First, we will provide fully funded one-to-one support for schools in the most challenging circumstances. This support will help leaders focus on how to apply and implement their learning effectively in their specific context.

4. Domain-specific

Teachers and leaders learn best when able to develop focused and specialist expertise. Where leadership training is too generic, it can be hard to implement improvements in practice. The new NPQ frameworks are much more domain-specific. The NPQ for Senior Leadership (NPQSL), Headship (NPQH) and Executive Leadership (NPQEL) cover the ten core domains of effective school leadership, and identify the core evidence and theory, as well as the key skills that leaders need to put into practice.

One big change is the replacement of the NPQML (Middle Leadership) with three specialist NPQs, focused on the specific expertise needed for: ‘leading behaviour and culture’ (NPQLBC), ‘leading teacher development’ (NPQLT) and ‘leading teaching’ (NPQLT). This new direction means that our programmes will be focused on not only building deep and specialist expertise, but also targeted to help leaders directly apply that expertise in their schools.

5. Committed to diversity in schools and school leadership

We know that school leaders in England are not yet representative of the wider teaching population, or the national population. That’s why we’re committed to building diversity in school leadership and to supporting all leaders to lead inclusive schools.

Our NPQ content will have a particular focus on leading an inclusive school and leaders will be prompted to consider how all areas of their school, such as the curriculum or professional development offer, supports diversity and inclusion. 

We are also committed to supporting all leaders to succeed and programme members will have access to our networks and affinity groups, as well as our Coaching Programme, where coaches have been specifically trained to consider the challenges and barriers many BAME colleagues face.

6. Builds connections and networks

A critical part of being an effective leader is being outward-facing and learning from other contexts. But it can also be lonely being a leader. Our NPQs are designed and delivered to include collaboration between leaders, and we will also help leaders access our wider network and Teach First community.

Connecting with networks is a powerful way to keep developing, to feel connected and to support improvements in your school.

7. Funding for new headteachers

The role of headteacher is a particularly important one. Whilst headteacher retention is generally high, retention has been worsening and work-related anxiety has been particularly high over this last challenging year. It’s therefore really positive to see targeted support focused particularly on new headteachers – a pivotal transition point.

We recently launched Headship First, a pilot focused on supporting new headteachers through one-to-one support, access to networks and technical expertise.

Building on this legacy, additional support will be available for headteachers in their first two years of headship. We’re delighted to build on our expertise from Headship First to continue to support leaders in this way.

Learn more about how a Teach First NPQ can make a difference to your pupils, tackle improvement priorities in your school and strengthen your own leadership skills, here:

Apply now

Boost leadership at your school with our NPQ programmes

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