The National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) supports the professional development of aspiring and serving middle leaders.


The duration of study is 18 months. During this time you will:

  • develop knowledge and skills across 6 content areas, which set out what an effective middle leader should know and be able to do

  • have the opportunity to develop up to 7 key leadership behaviours, which set out how an effective leader should operate

  • complete a final assessment that evaluates yours capability against the knowledge and skills set out in the 6 content areas


  • 12 course modules – 24 hours

  • Self-study intersessional tasks – 12 hours

  • Coaching – 6 hours

  • Online engagement with peers and through the Knowledge Hub platform – 12 hours

  • Real-world workplace learning and improvement project – 150 hours


The course consists of twelve two-hour modules. In addition, each participant’s development will be supported by a Professional Learning Journal, SSAT competency audit tools, intersessional tasks and a school-based coach. All participants will lead a school improvement project lasting at least two terms, aimed at improving pupil progress and attainment and the capability of their team. They will produce a 4,500-word written account and documentary


The 6 content areas across which you will develop your middle leadership knowledge and skills are:

  • strategy and improvement

  • teaching and curriculum excellence

  • leading with impact

  • working in partnership

  • managing resources and risks

  • increasing capability


The 7 leadership behaviours that you will have the opportunity to develop are:

  • commitment

  • collaboration

  • personal drive

  • resilience

  • awareness

  • integrity

  • respect


  1. Introduction to the NPQML

  2. Vision, values and the moral purpose

  3. Leading and managing innovation and change

  4. Managing resources and risks

  5. Data analysis for performance and progress

  6. Evidence based teaching and learning

  7. Leading strategic improvement

  8. Developing your leadership approach

  9. Building a high-performance team

  10. Support and challenge – holding yourself and others to account

  11. Developing yourself and others

  12. Collaboration and partnership


1. Introduction to the NPQML

Module one prepares delegates for the course and ensures they understand their own leadership development needs. By the end of this module delegates will:

Understand the structure of the course and what is expected of them

Be familiar with the online platform

Have self-assessed against the leadership competencies and the NPQ leadership behaviours

Have begun to identify possible school improvement projects

Identified initial priorities for their first coaching session.


2. Vision, values and the moral purpose

Module two brings participants back to their leadership ‘why’. They will consider their own vision for their area and how this aligns with the school’s vision and priorities.  By the end of this module participants will:

Understand what a vision is and why it is important

Have reflected on the values and moral purpose that guides and directs their behaviours

Be able to anchor and sustain their leadership practice through connecting to their moral purpose

Understand the role of education in addressing disadvantage


3. Leading and managing innovation and change

Module three explores the complex issues involved in leading and managing change. It includes practical tools for effective project management as well as how to handle the emotional aspect of change.  By the end of the module participants will:

Reflect on the theory and practice of leading change in order to lead more effectively

Have considered the implications for middle leaders of leading in a period of constant change

Understand the fundamentals of project management

Reflect on the importance of innovation for strategic improvement – ‘doing things differently in order to do them better’

Apply their learning to leading their school improvement project


4. Managing resources and risks

Module four explores the important leadership responsibilities of managing resources and risks. This includes effective deployment of financial, staffing and educational resources, safeguarding, ensuring pupil and staff well-being.  By the end of this module participants will:

Understand key enablers in efficiently and effectively deploying resources to enhance pupil progress; including curriculum planning, project planning, forecasting and staffing

Have considered the issues and impact of workload and well-being

Be familiar with the legal requirements and statutory guidance for safeguarding and health and safety in schools

Identify and mitigate risks in plans using a risk register

Produce evidence of their ability to manage a budget, project plan and use a risk register


5. Data analysis for performance and progress

Module five develops participants’ management and understanding of performance and pupil progress data at individual and group level, equipping them with practical tools and techniques for analysis. By the end of this module participants will:

Be familiar with statistical and data analysis concepts (e.g. confidence intervals, statistical significance, sampling, correlation and causation)

Understand how to evaluate progress, identify trends and define team priorities

Deploy a range of techniques and tools to manage and analyse performance and pupil progress data (e.g. databases, spreadsheets, formulae, graphs)

Use the data to monitor particular individuals and groups of learners at risk of underachievement, including disadvantaged learners

Provide documentary evidence of raw data analysis


6. Evidence based teaching and learning

Module six encourages participants reflect on the importance of curriculum design and developing excellent teaching rooted in evidence.  By the end of the module participants will:

Have analysed research into pedagogical approaches shown to have impact, drawing implications for practice

Understand the principles of curriculum design and different models

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum on offer and how effectively this meets the needs of learners.

Have engaged with the research on models of pupil assessment and identified how this should inform current and future practice

Be familiar with the Ofsted handbook for inspection and the clarification of inspection requirements in relation to lesson planning, marking, feedback and collection of pupil performance data


7. Leading strategic improvement

Module seven focuses on the need for a strategic approach to leading improvement. Building on module three, participants will plan for the strategic development of priorities emerging from the data analysis of pupil progress and performance. By the end of this module participants will:

Engage with the research evidence on improving progress and attainment, including of disadvantaged groups and provision for those with particular needs

Have learned about the graduated approach to supporting SEND pupils, as set out in the SEND Code of Practice

Be familiar with sources of research such as the EEF’s teaching and learning toolkit

Understand the principles of action research


8. Developing your leadership approach

Module eight looks at developing your leadership approach to improve effectiveness. It includes the importance of self-awareness and emotional intelligence as well as exploring leadership characteristics and styles. By the end of this module participants will:

Have reflected on their own personalities, characteristics and behaviours so that they are more self-aware

Have reflected further on the seven NPQ leadership behaviours: commitment, collaboration, personal drive, resilience, awareness, integrity, respect

Be familiar with the research on emotional intelligence and understand the impact of behaviour on their teams

Have explored the impact of different leadership styles and a situational leadership approach

Have considered the importance of communication and communication styles in leadership, including presenting challenging messages positively

Understand how their leadership contributes to the organisational culture

9. Building a high-performance team

Module nine looks at the key ingredients to building a high-performance team.  By the end of this module participants will:

Have explored characteristics of high performing teams and dysfunctional teams

Have reflected on how failures can become powerful learning opportunities

Have evaluated the effectiveness of teams they lead and considered how they can improve performance

Be equipped to support a culture that builds strong teams and shares good practice

10. Support and challenge – holding yourself and others to account

Module ten addresses to role of accountability and performance management. By the end of this module participants will:

Be familiar with the Teachers’ Standards

Understand their role in setting the team culture and expectations

Have effective strategies and systems for holding others to account, line management and evaluating performance

Have strategies for managing challenging conversations

11. Developing yourself and others

Module eleven focuses on the need for a growth mindset. We all have the potential to get better and learn new skills. Prioritising both our own development and the development of those we lead is essential in any healthy learning organisation. By the end of this module participants will:

  • Identify their own and others’ professional development needs

  • Be familiar with The Standards for Teachers’ Professional Development

  • Have considered variety of professional development activities and their cost-effectiveness

  • Identify appropriate, targeted opportunities for professional development for themselves and their team

  • Be able to evaluate the impact of professional development on teacher development and pupil outcomes

  • Have considered progression pathways for themselves and their teams

  • Have reflected upon coaching and mentoring as vehicles for professional development

12. Collaboration and partnership

Module twelve recognises the importance of collaboration and working in partnership.  This includes at individual, team, school and system level.  By the end of this modules participants will:

Have reflected upon the barriers and benefits to effective collaboration, partnership and team working

Have an understanding of the research evidence that underpins successful collaboration

Have considered stakeholder engagement, within and beyond the school – including parents

Have greater awareness of wider networks of support including those at national level


The Professional Learning Journal will enable you to record your learning and reflections during the course and examples of how you have applied learning to your professional practice.


Participants will be expected to complete intersessional activities to prepare them for, and follow up on key module content. This may typically involve pre-reading of research and evidence, action planning or scenario activities.


You will complete a school improvement project within your team, lasting at least 2 terms, aimed at improving pupil progress and attainment and the capability of your team.


Through this project, you will need to demonstrate your competence through an assessment linked to the knowledge and skills set out in the 6 content areas.


In order to gain the NPQML qualification, participants are required to complete an assessment task in their own school.


Participants must complete the following task:

  • Lead an improvement project in their school lasting at least 2 terms aimed at improving pupil progress and attainment and the capability of their team.

  • Submit a written report that doesn’t exceed 4500 words, demonstrating how you meet the criteria which includes initiation, implementation and evaluation of the project.

  • Submit supporting documents evidencing your learning and relating to the assessment criteria


Ten million pounds is available to support teachers and leaders working in opportunity areas ( and category 5 and category 6 areas ( to take the new NPQs.


This funding will cover full course costs, and all teachers and leaders in these areas are eligible for this funding (provided they have not already studied for the NPQ for which they are applying). 


The Department for Education accredited providers to design, deliver and assess one or more of the reformed national professional qualifications (NPQs). You can only take an NPQ with an accredited provider. Manchester Communication Academy is working in partnership with the SSAT (the schools, students and teachers network) to deliver this course.


To ensure that your NPQ is accessible, high quality and nationally consistent, our program programme must meet the requirements of the:

  • NPQ content and assessment framework, which sets out the knowledge and skills that providers must teach as part of each NPQ, and the tasks and criteria against which providers will be required to assess their candidates

  • NPQ quality framework, which sets out the standards of provision that providers must meet to retain their accreditation


In each area you will learn about the following:

Strategy and improvement

  • Manage and analyse performance data to evaluate progress, identify trends, define team priorities and develop improvement strategies (for example, in relation to disadvantaged pupils or those with particular needs)

  • Implement successful change at team level

Teaching and curriculum excellence

  • Grow excellent, evidence-based teaching in a team and a curriculum that develops pupils academically and prepares them for adult life

  • Improve the progress, attainment and behaviour of all pupils, including those who are disadvantaged or have particular needs (for example, Pupil Premium, SEND, EAL or the most able pupils)

Leading with impact

  • Anticipate other peoples’ views or feelings and moderate your approach accordingly

  • Adopt different have been adopted leadership styles to ensure the team meets its objectives

  • Present, communicate or defend challenging messages confidently and positively to a range of audiences

Working in partnership

  • Realise the benefits of collaborating with others, including teachers, teaching assistants and nonteaching staff, other schools, parents/carers and other organisations

  • Support their team to build and sustain relationships with others which develop and share good practice and improve performance

Managing resources and risks

  • Deploy staff, financial and educational resources within a team efficiently, to enhance pupil progress and attainment

  • Manage risks within a team effectively (for example, in relation to staffing, finances or teacher workload), using a risk register

  • Deliver a safe environment for pupils and staff


Increasing capability

  • Hold others to account, line manage and evaluate performance effectively

  • Support all members of their team with appropriate, targeted opportunities for professional development, including newly-qualified teachers, teaching assistants, and stronger or weaker performers

  • Recognise their own strengths and weaknesses and identify learning linked to their needs

  • Evaluate the impact of professional development on teacher development and pupils outcomes


Our Delivery Model

Our delivery model adopts a blended learning approach providing a mix of self directed learning with face to face input, further reading, experience in school and exposure to outstanding practice.