The following FAQs highlight the changes and what middle leaders can expect if they choose to take the qualification:
What are the new National Professional Qualifications (NPQs)?
The new NPQs are a suite of qualifications designed to support the development of leaders working across primary and secondary schools. There are three separate NPQs designed for teachers and middle leaders that cover the following specialist areas:
- NPQ for Leading Teaching
- NPQ for Leading Behaviour and Culture
- NPQ for Leading Teacher Development
In addition, the NPQs aimed at senior leaders have been informed and updated to reflect the most recent evidence base. These are the NPQ for Senior Leadership, NPQ for Headship and NPQ for Executive Leadership.
When do the new NPQs come into effect?
The NPQs come into effect from September 2021.
Have the new NPQ frameworks replaced the NPQML?
Yes, the NPQML has been replaced by the three specialist NPQs mentioned above. If you have already started the NPQML, you can still complete it.
Will the NPQML continue to be considered a competent/proficient qualification?
Yes, the existing NPQML will continue to be considered a good quality and respected qualification. Over time, all qualifications are reviewed and updated and your NPQML will not be diminished. You may wish to complete one of the new NPQs in addition, if you want to focus on one of the areas, but this is certainly not a requirement or necessary to further your career.
What is different about the new NPQs?
The new NPQs are developed from the evidence base and guidance that informed the ITT Core Content Framework and Early Career Framework. They also reflect the Teachers’ Standards and Headteacher Standards. The DfE sought this alignment to ensure continuity through teacher training and CPD throughout your career. The previous NPQs were development from a range of different frameworks.
What are the key focus areas of the new NPQs?
The qualifications focus attention on the knowledge and skills that teachers and school leaders need to educate and overcome persistent challenges of their daily roles. Effective teacher professional development and how this can be transferred collectively into the school and classroom has a greater emphasis in the NPQs. The three specialist areas of the NPQs encourage professional dialogue through mentoring and coaching that works towards achieving a common language and purpose. The NEU has a range of professional development opportunities to support you throughout your career and leadership journey that are delivered at a local and national level. The national programme can be found here.
What will you need to consider before applying to take part in the new NPQs?
Factors that you may want to clarify before applying for the NPQ include what time will be available to complete the qualification and what support will you have from the school in completing the qualification. It is worth negotiating these with your manager from the start to avoid unreasonable workload issues arising and for your visibility in the NPQ specialist area that you have chosen to be recognised. Find out what is included in a teacher’s directed school time to ensure that your working hours are reasonable.
What support can you expect from the school while completing the NPQ?
The NPQ will help you improve your teaching, the teaching of colleagues and support the school’s overall achievement. It is therefore reasonable to expect the school to support you during completing and beyond completion of the qualification. Your manager should allocate the time and resources for you to be able to take part on the NPQ and implement learning. There should also be mechanisms in place for reflection and effective feedback. In addition, the school should fund the qualification from the allocated professional development budget.
How can you apply for the NPQs?
Teaching School Hubs will have a significant role in delivering the NPQs. There are 87 Teaching School Hubs and there is a list by area. It is not yet clear how you can apply for the NPQs. Meanwhile you may want to look at which one of the NPQs matches your experience and you are most drawn to. Also, discuss with your manager how this will be supported by the school. Further details on the application process will be updated here as the information emerges.
How long will it take me to complete the new NPQ?
The NPQ can take up to 12-18 months to complete.
Is the NPQ compulsory for my career advancement?
The NPQs remain voluntary but are a nationally recognised suite of qualifications. They are designed to support the professional development of school teachers and leaders. Evidence shows that relevant professional development that can be applied in the classroom has a significant effect on pupil achievement and attainment. Being part of a whole school learning culture can serve positively towards your current role and the next step in your career.
The qualification requires a significant responsibility in relation to the leadership and management of teaching and learning. This involves working in a team setting and across the school to align practice. The pay reward for all teachers and leaders is decided by the governing body of the school. The pay reward may include Teaching and Learning Responsibilities (TLR) payments, the Leading Practitioner range or even the Leadership Group pay range. Advice on pay progression and how to secure fair pay in your workplace can be found here.
Where can I get more details about what is involved in the new NPQs?
Further information can be found on the Government website.
If you have a question or query about the new NPQs speak to your workplace rep in the first instance. If you do not have access to a workplace rep you may want to consider taking on the role. The role is very rewarding and many of the skills you will develop are transferable to your professional life.
As a middle leader you may also be interested in reading the FAQs on Changes affecting the role of NQT Mentors from September 2021.
This FAQ sheet and more advice and guidance for middle leaders can be found here.