National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership

This level has been developed for those leading beyond a team at a senior level within an organisation. It covers areas that are relevant to participants with responsibilities and accountabilities which are traditionally associated with senior leadership roles (e.g. deputy or assistant head). The modules may also be appropriate to a Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) who has responsibility for supporting other schools. The modules will also be suitable for experienced middle leaders who are ambitious for and keen to take up a senior leadership role.


The modules at level 2 will help participants address the challenges that senior leadership brings, including whole school and cross school responsibilities; operational and management tasks; the range and changing nature of responsibilities of senior leaders, including system leader roles; transition from middle leadership to senior leadership and taking on more strategic responsibilities; and tensions between being a classroom teacher and a senior leader. The two essential modules look at the challenge of managing operational and strategic responsibilities and closing the attainment gaps that exist between particular groups of pupils. The modules explore how these can be addressed at a whole-school level through school-wide improvements led by senior leaders.


Participants are required to complete two essential modules, two further elective module and a final assessment task.

 Succeeding in Senior Leadership

This module will consider the significance of leadership across the school and explore motivations and behaviours that leaders bring to their role, including values and beliefs. Participants will look at how they apply their leadership in the workplace to address school improvement priorities. Using research findings, diagnostic tools and examples from practice, leaders will increase their understanding of their own leadership so they can build on their strengths and address development areas. In this module the challenge of managing operational and strategic responsibilities will be addressed and the module suggests strategies to support individuals in these demanding roles.

 Closing the Gap

This module will teach participants how to close gaps in achievement and attainment that can occur across specific groups of pupils, particularly addressing the needs of disadvantaged pupils, including those entitled to free school meals. The module considers how leaders can identify gaps, diagnose causes and address within-school variation (eg differences in performance by teachers with similar groups of pupils). Evidence drawn from research will be used to demonstrate which pupils perform least well nationally and why. Using examples drawn from the work of senior leaders, participants will be taught about strategies for monitoring, evaluating, reviewing and improving pupil attainment, improving teacher performance and addressing within school variations. They will also learn how to make sure teachers work effectively together to close identified gaps.

 Improving the Quality of Teaching

In this module participants will review the international research evidence about leading and improving teaching. The module will look at how to improve teaching and learning across the school through the development and implementation of school-wide policies, models of teaching and approaches to evaluating pupil progress.

 Leading Change for Improvement

This module will teach participants the essential knowledge linked to leading change in practice. Building on Michael Fullan’s research work and using one of his analytical tools, participants will develop their own knowledge to help them lead change in their school as a senior leader.


Graduation from NPQSL will demonstrate your ability to be an effective senior leader. The NPQSL final assessment process has been designed to enable you to demonstrate that you can deliver successful and sustainable school improvement in your own school setting and can use the experience to reflect upon and improve your own leadership competencies. NPQSL final assessment is competency-based, testing the key competencies that are required for successful senior leadership. The final assessment process will comprise of an assessed task drawn from your work in which you lead across your school for an extended period (a minimum of two terms), on a school improvement priority. This task must be linked into the school’s improvement priorities and produce demonstrable positive impact and sustainable change. For the task you will be expected to draw upon your practical experience, research and school evidence to inform your leadership decision making.