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National Professional Qualifications


NPQThe National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) are a group of three courses for staff in education settings at all levels who want to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence to lead successfully.

  • These courses offer participants the opportunity to:

Gain the knowledge, skills and leadership behaviours they need to succeed 

  • Move ahead in their careers, through gaining a DfE-recognised qualification in leadership.

All three courses are designed by education practitioners and educational psychologists to provide current, innovative and practice-focused training that will give school leaders the insight and tools they need to become highly effective leaders.

For additional information about what Real Training can offer, see our NPQ Middle LeadershipNPQ Senior Leadership and NPQ Headship courses.

Our next NPQ cohorts start on 15 January so book your place now.

The Department for Education has confirmed that there will be funding available for the January 2020 cohort offered to Opportunity and Category 5 & 6 areas. If your school is in one of these areas and you wish to reserve a place, please complete the online booking form as soon as possible. Check if your school is in an opportunity area here

Why take a course with us?

Real Training’s NPQ courses:

  • Are developed by education practitioners for education practitioners with a strong focus on personal development, inclusion and improving outcomes for all.
  • Include Positive Psychology and strengths-based approaches to leadership and change management
  • Lead to the award of 60 M-level credits (NPQSL & NPQH) from Middlesex University, which can be used towards further Masters level qualifications with Real Group or Middlesex University
  • Are based on Real Training’s practice-led learning model, which means you receive the content and theory you need, along with opportunities to make a difference to your setting through putting theory into practice and reflecting on the process
  • Start with a 360° leadership behaviour assessment, which will help to establish your strengths, and identify behaviours to work on to improve your effectiveness, and
  • Are flexible, with core content delivered online, so you can study at a pace that complements your professional and personal commitments

Real Training is working closely with three partner schools to develop and deliver the courses. They are:

You’ll never feel isolated on a Real Training NPQ course because a sense of community is developed through:

  • Online interaction with tutors
  • Support from a mentor, and
  • Peer support, through interaction and collaboration with colleagues in your setting and with fellow participants from across the country, via an online forum.  

How will you benefit?

All successful NPQ graduates will:

  • Gain a highly valued, internationally respected, DfE accredited professional qualification 
  • Be awarded 60 M-level credits from Middlesex University for NPQSL and NPQH 
  • Know how to lead an education setting successfully, using evidence-informed approaches
  • Lead and evaluate an intervention across their own and another setting to improve outcomes for children or young people and staff
  • Develop their leadership and management skills, and their ability to work in partnership with colleagues, professionals from outside the setting, and parents and carers  
  • Enhance their own and others’ personal and professional development, and
  • Gain a professional network of colleagues beyond their own setting

What do the courses cover?

Course content covers six key areas:

  • Leading with impact
  • Strategy and improvement
  • Teaching and curriculum excellence
  • Working in partnership
  • Managing resources and risks, and
  • Increasing capability.

In addition, the course will help you to develop the range of leadership behaviours, identified by DfE:

  • Commitment
  • Collaboration
  • Personal drive
  • Resilience
  • Awareness
  • Integrity, and
  • Respect.

How will you be assessed?

Each ‘Learning Experience’ you undertake on the Real Training NPQ courses will help you work towards completing the required assignment and meet the assessment criteria.

During the courses you will lead your team to design, implement and evaluate an improvement project in your setting, lasting at least two terms, designed to:

  • Improve pupils’ progress and attainment
  • Develop your leadership skills, and
  • Grow the capability of your team.

For the NPQH you will also undertake a placement in another school, lasting at least nine days. You tutor will be able to give you guidance in how to arrange this placement. You will identify the placement school’s current or projected resource and capability challenges and design an action plan to address these. You will present your plan to the placement school’s governing body for feedback, and submit a 2,500 word written account of the project.

How are the courses delivered?

The courses are delivered on line through our interactive learning platform, Campus Online.

You will be guided through the course by a narrative that:

  • Supports your progress
  • Presents tasks clearly, and
  • Provides you with content that complements your learning every step of the way.

Experienced online tutors with recent or current leadership experience in schools will be on hand to support you through your learning journey.

An online forum gives you the opportunity to share practice and to discuss and debate issues with others working towards the NPQ, from across the country.

Are you eligible?

Do you have an undergraduate degree?

You will need an undergraduate degree to take this course as our NPQ qualifications are accredited at Masters level.

Are you already working in an education setting?

These courses are designed for current and aspiring leaders working in education settings.

Which NPQ courses is right for you?

  • NPQML is for those who are currently, or are aspiring to become, middle leaders with responsibility for leading a team. You might perhaps be a key stage leader, a curriculum leader, a subject leader, a head of department, or a pastoral services leader.
  • NPQSL is for those who are currently, or are aspiring to become, senior leaders with responsibilities across an education setting. You might perhaps be an experienced middle leader, a deputy or assistant head, a SENCO, an or advanced skills teacher. You’ll be looking for professional development, but not aspiring to headship at this stage of your career.
  • NPQH is, normally, for those who are highly motivated to become headteachers. You should, normally, be no more than 12 to 18 months from applying for headship posts and ready to take up a headship as soon as you complete the course. You will need to have the full support and endorsement of a sponsor. Usually, this will be your headteacher or line manager.

If you are unsure which course is for you, speak to our course advisers on 01273 35 80 80.   

Are you based in an international setting?

This course is available online and can therefore be completed anywhere in the world. Please click here for advice on payment options and other information relevant to those studying outside of the UK.

Is my school eligible for category 5 and 6 funding from the DfE?

Qualifying criteria

An NPQ Course Participant will be deemed a ‘Selected NPQ Course Participant’ if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are enrolled on an NPQ Course;
  • You work in a school in a Category 5 or 6 area;
  • You do not already hold the NPQ for which you have enrolled;
  • You have not previously enrolled with a NPQ Provider for the same NPQ Course and dropped out before completing it
  • The Department has not previously paid for your NPQ Course.

How to identify whether my school fits into a Category 5 or 6 area?

Funding is available for maintained schools, academies, free schools and PRUs in category 5 and 6 areas.

This can be checked via the DfE website “Get information about schools”. Search by ‘location’ and enter the school’s postcode. If the school is classed as a category 5 or 6 areas, you are likely to be eligible.

How to apply for funding?

Too take advantage of the funding scheme from the DfE, please complete the online booking form and make a note under the’ Other Information’ section of the category area. We will claim the funds for the course directly from the DfE.

How much do the courses cost?

NPQH – £2,750 plus VAT

NPQSL – £1,750 plus VAT

NPQML – £1,150 plus VAT

The Department for Education funding window for March offered to Opportunity and Category 5 & 6 areas has now closed. We anticipate – though it is not yet confirmed – that there will be funding available for the May 2019 cohort. If your school is in a Category 5 or 6 area and you wish to reserve a place in anticipation of funding becoming available, please complete the online booking form as soon as possible. If the funding is then not available, we can discuss whether to continue your booking on a paid basis or cancel your booking without incurring any costs. 

Speak to us (01273 358080) or make a booking.

Are you based in an international setting?

This course is available online and can therefore be completed anywhere in the world. Please click here for advice on payment options and other information relevant to those studying outside of the UK.

When does the course start?

Cohorts begin in January, March, May and September.

Our next NPQ cohorts start on 15 January, book your place now.

Please note: as it takes time to process your application and payment, we strongly recommend to register as soon as possible, so that you don’t miss the next intake.



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