The following FAQs highlight what middle leaders can expect if they choose to take the qualification:
What are the NPQs?
The 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
(the above 3 NPQs came into effect from September 2021
NPQ for Leading Literacy
NPQ for Early Years Leadership
(the above 2 NPQs come into effect from September 2022)
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.
Have the NPQ frameworks replaced the NPQML?
Yes, the NPQML has been discontinued and replaced by the three specialist NPQs mentioned above. Anyone currently undertaking an NPQ under the existing contracts and frameworks will have until August 2022 to complete their course, including assessment and moderation.
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 NPQs?
The 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 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 five 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 NPQs?
There are some factors that you may want to clarify before applying for the NPQ including what time will be available to complete the qualification and what support will I have from the school in completing the qualification. It is worth negotiating these with your manager from the start to avoid unreasonable workload issues from occurring and for your visibility in the NPQ specialist area that you have chosen to be recognised. Find out what is included in a teachers’ 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?
Your first step would be to look at which one of the NPQs matches your ex perience and you are drawn to. In addition, have a discussion with your manager to explore how this will be supported by the school. The next step is to find a provider by contacting your local teaching school hub.
Once you have selected your course and provider, you will need to register for your programme using the DfE’s online service.
How are the new qualifications funded?
The cost of the NPQs for middle managers can be up to and just over £1,000 depending on the course and the provider. The qualification is fully funded for staff employed in one of the 30% of schools in England with the highest levels of pupils on Pupil Premium. If you do not fall into this category of schools, you are able to self -fund the qualification. The NEU advice is that the school should fund the qualification from the allocated professional development budget. You should talk to your manager and negotiate for this, or talk to your school rep.
How long will it take to complete an NPQ?
The NPQ can take between 2 academic terms and 27 months to complete, depending on your chosen NPQ and provider.
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.
What pay reward can I expect while completing or on completion of the qualification?
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.
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. Our reps are at the heart of the union.
As a middle leader you may also be interested in reading the FAQs on The Role of ECT Mentors.