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The NPQEL application round is now closed.


The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leaders (NPQEL) is for:

  • Aspiring and current executive Headteachers working across two or more schools

  • Aspiring and current Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)

  • Those in, or aspiring to, similar roles within a MAT, federation or equivilent

Inspiring leaders aims to develop and deliver a 'gold standard' route into executive leadership by drawing upon the inspiration and expertise of experienced outstanding executive leaders and CEOs as well as leaders from outside of education to address the challenges of leading multiple organisations. This programme aims to attract and to develop the most aspirant and effective leaders from across the region.

The programme provides a personalised learning journey, enabling delegates to learn from both education and non- education specialists. This process provides a flexible, focused and purposeful learning experience and opportunity for an individual coach, enabling participants to reflect on their own contexts and the next stage in their development. To ensure quality in delivery and personalised support, numbers on this programme are limited.

Our Delivery Model

This programme has been designed by experienced executive leaders and CEOs and will be delivered via a series of residentials, ensuring focused and manageable learning time. We believe this model will encourage powerful, lasting networking opportunities between delegates, which will be highly valuable beyond the life of the programme. Inspiring Leaders recommends that the guided learning hours are between 215 - 245 hours for the programme.

Please note that during this period of Covid 19, residential sessions have been replaced with virtual sessions ran via Microsoft Teams Live. Each content area will consist of 2-3 virtual sessions over a period of 6 weeks. These will be accompanied by a range of post and pre tasks including peer networking, research and additional reading.

Click Here to Download an Overview of Our Delivery Model

Click on each of the areas below to learn more about the programme content

360 degree review

360 degree review

360 degree review

All participants are required to complete a 360 review form based on our Leadership Behaviours. This is designed to highlight strengths and areas for development for you to consider and focus on that will enable you to develop and grow as a leader. You are encouraged to complete the form with your sponsor before attending the induction and to review this at least twice throughout the programme. You may also wish to consider sharing them with your coach during your sessions.

Content areas

Content areas

Content areas

The programme addresses the 6 following content areas. Each area is explored on each face to face day and there will be some reading and activities to complete in addition to this.
  • Teaching and Curriculum Excellence
  • Strategy and Improvement
  • Leading with Impact
  • Working in Partnership
  • Managing Risks
  • Increasing Capability

Face to face days

Face to face days

Face to face days

Please note that during this period of Covid 19, face to face sessions have been replaced with virtual sessions ran via Microsoft Teams Live. Each content area will consist of 2-3 virtual sessions over a period of 6 weeks.

Our usual delivery model:
Participants are required to attend 3 residentials and 1 full day as follows:

    • Residential 1: Twilight induction and 2 day residential, including 2 nights accommodation.
    • Residential 2: 2 day residential with 1 night accommodation
    • Residential 3: 2 day residential with 1 night accommodation.
    • 1 full final day which includes a leadership celebration.
  • These take place roughly one per term over the course of 12 months.

    Each day has been specifically designed with an effective executive headteacher or CEO in mind, using a variety of types of study including theory, models, case studies and expert accounts of practise to enable each participant to determine and develop their own learning and leadership style.
    Emphasis is placed on collaboration, strategic thinking, coaching and reflection to ultimately empower the participant to build trust and credibility and develop vision, confidence and skills as a system leader. A substantial amount of time will be provided for personal reflection, self analysis and peer challenge to maximise your learning time on the programme.

    The faciltators

    The faciltators

    The faciltators

    All face to face sessions will be delivered by two experienced facilitators, who have a track record of delivering successful leadership development programmes for many years. The facilitators will be accompanied by a range of expert voices including Inspiring Leaders Directors ( MAT CEOs in their own right), experiences executive Heads, past NPQEL participants and experts from a none educational background. More information about those lined up for this year will be published here soon.




    Each participant will have access to up to three face to face sessions with one of a pool of coaches who are professional, highly experienced coaches. These will take place between your residentials.
    These coaching sessions are designed to support you as you develop your leadership behaviours and apply the learning from NPQEL into your setting. They will also enable you to further your personal reflection, identify further development where necessary and address any challenges you may be facing.

    Access to current research and policy

    Access to current research and policy

    Access to current research and policy

    At each residential, you will be provided with a range of research and policy digests, think pieces and case studies that have been designed especially for NPQEL participants by experts in the field for each content area. You will also have access to our leadership library, our online platform, that will allow you to access further studies, up to date national and international research and other high quality resources to support your learning.

    In addition to the learning areas, participants will have opportunity to access the followings:

    • NPQEL Book Club - Three free current books on leadership topics to take away and read between residentials
    • Free access to weekly briefings whilst on the programme which cover national research, strategy, funding and grants from Forum Strategy which is sent to over 100 CEOs nationalwide.
    • Opportunity for focused placements and learning visits.

    • Input from nationally and internationally recognised speakers.

    • The opportunity to learn from successful Multi Academy Trusts and groups of schools.

    • Input leading business and third sector organisations.

    • Professional breaks, allowing you to balance the demands of your role, whilst engaging in high quality professional learning.


    Click here to view profiles of some of the expertise who have contributed to NPQEL previously:

    • Previous contributors

      Previously, the following people provided an input into our NPQEL programme:
      • John Edwards, Regional Schools Commissioner for East Midlands and the Humber
      • Steve Radcliffe
      • David Strudley, former CEO of Rainbows Hospice
      • Partner and Community Liason and Marketing Managers from the John Lewis Partnership
      • Crisis Media Awareness Training
    • John Edwards

      John Edwards

      John Edwards, Regional Schools Commissioner East Midlands and Humber

      John Edwards started in his role as Regional Schools Commissioner in May 2017. Before his appointment he was Director of Education and Skills at Manchester City Council. Earlier in his career he also worked as a mathematics teacher and senior leader in secondary schools in Yorkshire. He was a Principal Examiner for Mathematics, a Service Director for Schools and Lifelong Learning at Wakefield Council and an Assistant Director for Learning at Kirklees Council.
    • Sue Winton

      Sue Winton

      Sue Winton - Lead facilitator and coach

      Sue is an accredited Leadership Coach and currently coaches leadership teams both in and beyond the educational context. She is an experienced facilitator and have been facilitating the NPQs for over 6 years. She is a former Primary Head Teacher but now works across both primary and secondary schools. She is particularly skilled in developing a culture that inspires, motivates and enables individuals to embrace and develop ownership and responsibility in order to strengthen working relationships and develop outstanding practice.
    • Graeme Robins

      Graeme Robins

      Graeme Robins - Lead facilitator and coach

      As a former Headteacher and Executive Headteacher, Graeme has considerable experience of leadership, school-to-school support together with coaching and mentoring to enable staff to fulfil their potential. He is currently Director of Quality Assurance and School Improvement for Flying High Trust, where he enables all leaders and school staff to be relentless in providing the best opportunities and experiences for our children.
      Graeme is an experienced and dynamic facilitator and has worked for Inspiring Leaders for 4 years.
    • Kate McKenna

      Kate McKenna

      Kate McKenna - Lead Facilitator and coach

      Kate is qualified to Masters level in executive coaching with a PGCE in Education from the University of Exeter. She specialises in leadership and system leadership development, executive coaching and mentoring, change management, sector led improvement and workforce development across a range of children’s services including local authority, strategic and collaborative improvement partnerships and schools. She is an experienced public speaker and conference facilitator.
    • Andy Burns

      Andy Burns

      Andy has been Principal of The Redhill Academy since 2004, an NLE since 2009 and is currently Executive Principal of The Redhill Trust. He believes school leadership is all about leading the extended team of staff towards a clearly defined core purpose of raising student achievement. Everything else must be peripheral to this. Yet to accomplish this goal, our future leaders will need a complex range of skills including clear communication, decision making, emotional intelligence and trust building.
    • Chris Wheatley

      Chris Wheatley

      Chris is currently Chief Executive of the Flying High Trust providing vision, strategic direction and innovation as well as ensuring all our schools continually strive for excellence. He was previously headteacher of Cotgrave Candleby Lane School for over ten years and an NLE. He is the East Midlands Yorkshire and Humberside representative on the Teaching School Council, coordinating the collaborative school led system.

    • Rebecca Meredith

      Rebecca Meredith

      Rebecca is Chief Executive of Transform Trust and TSA. Before this she was Head at Sneinton CofE from 2002 and took the school from special measures to outstanding. She was appointed Executive Head of two other primaries in Nottingham and have extensive experience of improving under-performing schools in the Trust and beyond. She is also a Professional Partner and on the Challenge Partners board.
    • Paul Stone

      Paul Stone

      Paul is currently CEO of Discovery Schools Academy Trust (DSAT) which contains 13 schools in Leicestershire. Prior to this, he was a Headteacher for 16 years in two small rural primaries and lastly Kibworth CE Primary School which is now the lead school in Affinity Teaching School Alliance.
    • Richard Ludlow

      Richard Ludlow

      Richard is a NLE and has been head of three primary schools, latterly Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy which is graded ‘Outstanding’. Richard has led the development of the Ebor Academy Trust since it was formed in December 2013. The Trust has been successful in developing an initial teacher training programme and school-to-school support service, raising achievement in many other schools in the North East region. Ofsted has judged his leadership as outstanding.
    • Steve Munby

      Steve was Chief Executive of the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) for nearly 8 years and after that, Chief Executive of Education Development Trust. Steve is in much demand as a keynote speaker, especially on issues to do with school leadership and system-wide reform of education, and has spoken at conferences all over the world. He has visited hundreds of schools throughout England and, more recently, internationally and he has a strong understanding of the challenges facing school and system leaders.


    TASK 1 - Sustainable Business Development Strategy

    Candidates must:

    • Design a sustainable business development strategy for their organisation, analysing the benefits, costs and risks of different options and present their chosen strategy to their governing board/board of trustees.

    • Submit a written account of the project to Inspiring Leaders, which aims to evidence the criteria indicated together with supporting documents/material as evidence where indicated below. This should not exceed a total word count of 4,000, excluding supporting documents or annexes.

    TASK 2 - Project to improve progress and attainment

    Candidates must:

    • Lead a project to improve progress and attainment in several schools and present their plans to a group of relevant stakeholders.

    • Submit a written account of the project to the provider for assessment, which aims to evidence the criteria indicate and submit supporting documents/material as evidence where indicated below. This should not exceed a total word count of 4,000, excluding supporting documents or annexes.


    The cost of the programme, inclusive of all residential, gateway assessment and final assessment is £3950 + VAT. This price includes three sessions of coaching from a professional qualified coach throughout the life of the programme.

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