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National Professional Qualifications: Improving pupil outcomes through effective professional development

Education Development Trust’s NPQs will empower teachers and leaders to make change happen

Education Development Trust’s NPQs will empower teachers and leaders to make change happen


Good teachers make a difference. The biggest determinant of pupil outcomes is the quality of the teaching they receive. The professional development of teachers is therefore critical to the attainment of not just teachers themselves, but the pupils they support.

Earlier this year, the Department for Education introduced a new suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), a national, voluntary set of qualifications designed to support the professional development of teachers and education leaders.

The NPQs are available to teachers and leaders across multiple levels, from heads of subject and department, to senior leaders such as deputy heads and headteachers. Each NPQ programme is fully funded for individuals at state-funded schools and state-funded organisations that offer places for 16-19-year-olds, creating a great pipeline for teacher training and retention.

Education Development Trust, an international charity with a deep commitment to transforming life chances by improving education, has been selected as a Lead Provider for the new NPQs. With a reputation for high-quality, school-led, and exceptionally well-managed professional development programmes for teachers and leaders, Education Development Trust are extremely well placed to deliver NPQs to an excellent standard.  Applications are now open for their February cohort. Anna Searle, Education Services Director at Education Development Trust, commented:

“At Education Development Trust, we believe that great schools only exist when a great staff team is in place. For students to thrive and fulfil their potential, they need access to highly effective teachers and leaders across the school team, who have benefitted from first rate training and support. That is why we welcome the new National Professional Qualifications which will help the most experienced members of the education workforce develop the expertise they need to help their students to thrive.”

The NPQ framework builds on the evidence base and expert guidance already established in the Early Career Framework and the ITT Core Content Framework. This framework has a strong focus on equipping educators with the knowledge and skills they need to flourish in their roles and now includes more specialist routes for teachers and leaders to develop specific areas of their practice.

The previous NPQ for Middle Leadership has been replaced by the three new specialist NPQs (Leading Teaching, Leading Teacher Development and Leading Behaviour and Culture). The existing three leadership NPQs (Senior Leadership, Headship, Executive Leadership) have also been reformed to new content frameworks provided by the DfE.

The changes are part of a wider set of teacher development reforms which together will create a ‘golden thread’ of high-quality evidence underpinning the support, training, and development available through the entirety of a teacher’s career. You can find out more about how these wider reforms will support teachers by listening to Episode 2 of Education Development Trust’s Brighter Futures podcast.

Education Development Trust are delivering the reformed suite of NPQs by leading a consortium, alongside internationally recognised experts from Sheffield Institute of Education and Evidence Based Education.

Professor Samantha Twiselton OBE, Director of the Sheffield Institute of Education, commented, “As both a partner in Education Development Trust’s NPQ programme and someone who has been heavily involved in helping shape the evolving policy landscape for teacher and school leadership development, I’m so excited that this milestone has been achieved.”

“The revised and brand new specialist NPQs are a key part of this. They will help bring a coherence and focus to the ways in which we need to develop and create career pathways for the teaching profession.”

“This suite of NPQs will create clear development pathways that are fit for the evolving leadership needs of our education system,” explained Professor Stuart Kime, Director of Education at Evidence Based Education. “The team at Evidence Based Education is excited to work in partnership with Education Development Trust: bringing these qualifications to life helps us continue our mission to support educators in using the best available evidence to improve teaching, leadership and – crucially – learner outcomes.”

Education Development Trust is working in partnership with a national network of school Delivery Partners to ensure the NPQ course content created is deeply rooted in an understanding of what is needed in schools today. The content uses scenarios that teachers will recognise from their own experiences, making learning practical and applicable.

Anne Searle explained: “As a well-established education organisation, with over 50 years of relevant and successful experience, and through our research into what works in education, we are particularly well placed to help in the design and delivery of the NPQs. We recognise that, as in medicine and other sectors, professional development for educators must use the expertise of current practitioners. For that reason, we have teamed up with some of the country’s top Teaching School Hubs and Multi-Academy Trusts to create a delivery system for the NPQs based on expert current practice. We can provide logistical expertise and quality assurance that complements and strengthens the insights of the best school practitioners.”

Education Development Trust’s NPQs pay close attention to workload and wellbeing, with a range of resources and support available for all, particularly to new headteachers through the innovative Additional Support Offer for New Headteachers. This is a programme designed to complement the NPQ for Headship and will provide participants with the extra support needed to help them apply their NPQH learnings, thrive in their role, and sustain their development using social and psychological resources for leadership.

Each of Education Development Trust’s NPQ programmes is built to fit around a busy work schedule and the Delivery Partners enable training to be delivered locally to participants. Anna Searle explained further about the flexibility and adaptability of the programme structures: 

“While the NPQs provide an exciting opportunity, we completely recognise the wider pressures on participants, especially at this difficult time as we seek to restore learning after the disruptions of the last two years. We recognise the importance of work-life balance for participants. We have exciting plans for a rich mix of face-to-face and online learning and we look forward to supporting individuals to achieve their learning objectives and future opportunities.  We are therefore excited to be working with our delivery partners and individuals around the country and to welcome teachers and leaders to our suite of NPQ courses. “

The first cohort for the newly reformed NPQs commenced study in November, but there is still time to apply for Education Development Trust’s second cohort in February. The application deadline is the 17th January and teachers and school leaders are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to secure their place.

Education Development Trust’s combination of knowledge from schools and expert organisations will support teachers and leaders in their professional development. The suite of NPQs on offer are not only beneficial to those who participate in NPQs – they will also enhance their school environments, benefit their colleagues, and most importantly, make a positive difference to the outcomes of pupils.

Applications are now open for Education Development Trust’s February NPQ cohort; the application deadline is the 17th January 2022. Visit www.educationdevelopmenttrust.com/npqs to find out more and apply.

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