FAQs – National Professional Qualifications

What are the reformed NPQs?

National professional qualifications (NPQs) are a national, voluntary suite of qualifications designed to support the professional development of teachers and leaders. We’re committed to ensuring that NPQs continue to offer the best support to teachers and leaders wanting to expand their knowledge and skills.

Three existing NPQs in Senior Leadership, Headship and Executive Leadership have been refreshed, ensuring that they are underpinned by the latest evidence of what works to ensure that National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) continue to offer the best possible support to teachers and leaders.


The existing Middle Leadership NPQ has also been replaced with three new specialist NPQs to best address the broad range of responsibilities of current and aspiring middle leaders. These specialist areas cover:


Supporting the training and development of others, including early career teachers.

Developing teachers who are subject leads or responsible for improving teaching practice in a subject or phase.


When will the reformed NPQ programmes begin?

The DfE has announced NPQ programmes for 2021/2022 will start in November 2021 and February 2022.


Is anything changing with the National Professional Qualifications?

Yes.  Delivering on the commitments set out in the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, the National Professional Qualifications will complete ‘the golden thread’ and will build on the evidence base and expert guidance already established in the ITT Core Content Framework and ECF.

The six new NPQ content frameworks were published on 13 October 2020 and from September 2021, this reformed suite of 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. They set out the details that participants should know and be able to do after completing an NPQ.  These reforms include:

  • reforming the 3 existing NPQs in Senior Leadership, Headship and Executive Leadership
  • replacing the current NPQ in Middle Leadership with three new NPQs for teachers and leaders who want to develop their expertise in specialist areas of teaching practice:
    • NPQ for Leading Teaching
    • NPQ for Leading Behaviour
    • NPQ for Leading Teacher Development


Who are the accredited NPQ Lead Providers?

Nine providers have been accredited by the Department for Education who will design a programme of face-to-face and online training:

  • Ambition Institute
  • Best Practice Network (home of Outstanding Leaders Partnership)
  •  Church of England
  •  Education Development Trust
  •  Harris Federation
  •  Leadership Learning South East
  •  Teacher Development Trust
  •  Teach First
  •  UCL Institute of Education


Can organisations other than Teaching School Hubs acts as Delivery Partners on NPQs?

Yes, Lead Providers can choose to work with other organisations such as large MATS who can deliver ‘at scale’. However, the DfE has invested in Teaching School Hubs so that they can provide an infrastructure to deliver the remit given by the DfE, including delivery of the suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs).  There is an expectation from Lead Providers that Delivery Partners will be in a position deliver ‘at scale’, Teaching School Hubs are specifically resourced for this level of delivery.


What role will Ofsted play in relation to NPQs?

Providers of the reformed suite of NPQs will be subject to a quality assurance mechanism through Ofsted inspection to ensure the best support for schools and teachers. 


When can I access these qualifications?

NPQs in Leading Teaching, Leading Behaviour and Culture, Leading Teacher Development, Senior Leadership, Headship and Executive Leadership are available from November 2021.

The DfE has also announced that it is currently consulting with sector representatives and other experts on the value of developing additional qualifications in early years education and teaching literacy, among other potential areas to ensure national professional qualifications continue to offer the best possible support to teachers and leaders wanting to expand their knowledge and skills.


What is the role of the online service?

Using the online service (NPQ registration) is the second step of the NPQ application journey. Participants should liaise directly with their chosen provider to establish the course that best suits them prior to accessing the service. Participants may complete an initial ‘expression of interest’/preliminary application form with the Provider directly. Providers will then direct participants to the service to register their details.


What are the NPQ scholarship criteria from 2021/2022?

 As part of the education recovery plan, £184million of new funding for NPQs was announced to be spent over the course of the parliament.  Scholarship criteria have been announced and are publicly available on to confirm they are:

***fully funded NPQ Leading Teacher Development (NQLTD)***

***fully funded NPQH (for those within the first two years of Headship)***

***fully funded all NPQs for schools within the top 30th percentile in relation to pupils with Pupil Premium***


 Is there a limit to how many funded NPQ places schools can have?

 No, there is no limit to the number of funded NPQ places each school can have. 


 Is there a cap on the number of funded NPQ places?

 Yes, there is a cap.  The supply of funded places is very generous and expected to meet demand.


How does PP eligibility work for staff working across multiple schools within MATs?

To be eligible for a scholarship-funded NPQ in Executive Leadersh ipteachers must either work in a state-funded school in England that is within the top 30th percentile in relation to pupils on pupil premiumor work in a trust that includes at least one school which meets this pupil premium requirement.  

With regards to eligibility for scholarship funding for all other NPQsteachers who work across multiple schools or church diocese should discuss with their leadership team and provider whether they meet the eligibility for the PP30 scholarships. For exampleif a participant works in a setting where their focus is on a school that does meet the high pupil premium criteriait would be appropriate for them to apply for a scholarship. 

There is duty for Lead Providers to verify that the participant has met the funding criteria. 

Is there a limit to how many funded NPQ places each school can have?

Whilst there is no cap on the number of scholarship-funded places per school, individual participants must meet the criteria set out on to access the scholarship funding.  The criteria are available here.


Is there a national cap on the number of scholarship funded NPQ places?

As part of the government’s long-term education recovery plan, £184 million of new funding or NPQs was announced on 2 June.  Combined with existing funding already committed to the programme, this will provide 150,000 scholarship funded NPQ places over the course of the 21/22 academic year and the next three years.

Each lead provider has a recruitment target for 21/22.  Lead Providers should work with their delivery partners to manage this.

The DfE will be monitoring recruitment across all providers this year.  lead providers should contact the Department to discuss recruitment if necessary.


Are the scholarship criterial that have been announced starting in 21/22 only?

Scholarships for all NPQs are available for teachers in schools with the highest proportion of pupils on pupil premium.  In addition, teachers in state-funded schools will be able to access scholarships for the NPQ LTD, and new head teachers (in the first 24 months of headship) in state-funded schools can access funding for the NPQH and additional support offer for new head teachers.

Scholarships are also planned from AY22/23 onwards, including for the two new NPQs in Literacy and Early Years teaching.  Information on targeting from AY22/23 will be released in due course.


Is QTS required for those trying to access NPQ scholarships?

While it is not a requirement that participants should have QTS status, providers should assess candidates’ suitability for NPQ qualifications bearing in mind that content frameworks contain sections on teaching and learning.  This would need to be considered in line with the context of the individual circumstances.

Participants must have a Teacher Reference Number in order to register for an NPQ programme.  The NPQ Registration service has information on how to apply for a TRN if a participant doesn’t already have one.


What should candidates without QTS or TRN do?

You must have a TRN to register for an NPQ course.  If a candidate does not know what their teacher reference number (TRN) is, they can find it on their payslip, teachers’ pension documentation or teacher training records.  If they are unable to locate their TRN or have not been assigned a TRN, they should follow the guidance on the NPQ Registration service.


Can candiates who are not teachers and don’t have a TRN still access NPQs?

People receive TRNs when they receive QTS.  However, anyone who does not have QTS can get a TRN if they want to take an NPQ.

If you want to take an NPQ and do not have a TRN, you need to first check you are suitable for the programme with your provider and once you have chosen your course and provider, the registration service signposts you to how to get a TRN so that you can access an NPQ.