Why we’re excited about the new NPQ frameworks and Headteacher standards

Blog written by Teach First

During one of the most challenging years for schools, it’s never been more important or exciting to see thinking about how best to support school leaders.

The DfE shared the new NPQ frameworks and Headteachers’ standards last week. National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) have been an important part of developing teachers and leaders for over 20 years, and, whilst the new frameworks won’t be put into practice for another year, we were really excited to see the release.

A core part of Teach First’s strategy is supporting brilliant leaders. Our mission is to work with schools to make education fair – and we know that great leaders support great teachers, great schools and successful pupils. We currently work with middle and senior leaders, headteachers and leadership teams across our leadership programmes.

So why are these new frameworks particularly exciting? Upon analysis, we find they are:

1. Research-informed

The content of these frameworks and the underpinning evidence have been independently assessed and endorsed by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). It needs to be easy for teachers and leaders to find strategies that are most likely to work for their pupils, so it’s great to see this clearly laid out. The frameworks were also created in consultation and collaboration with teachers and leaders across the sector, including Teach First’s Reuben Moore – a member of the NPQ Expert Advisory Group. 

2. Aligned and coherent

The arrival of these frameworks also means that there is now alignment between the ITT Core Content Framework, the Early Careers Framework, up through all levels of leadership to Executive Leadership. Drawing on the same core evidence-base, and having shared language, will help drive collaboration, communication and focussed improvement in schools. Of course, as a research-informed profession, colleagues will engage in a breadth of evidence beyond this – but to align around key domains can only be helpful to align training and development across schools and the sector at large.

At Teach First, this is also exciting – we work with schools in developing staff at all levels, from new trainee teachers to headteachers – and we are excited to see further benefits to our schools from aligned and coherent support at all levels.

3. Domain-focused and specialised

Each framework is split into key domains of leadership, and it is clearly visible how they build on one another in different levels of NPQSL (Senior Leadership), NPQH (Headship) and NPQEL (Execute Leadership).

One big change is the replacement of the NPQML (Middle Leadership) with three specialist NPQs, focused on the specific expertise needed for: ‘leading behaviour and culture’, ‘leading teacher development’ and ‘leading teaching’. This new direction will not only enable the development of deep and specialist expertise, but will also support leaders further to directly apply that expertise in their schools. These clear domains provide an opportunity for more focus and clarity for defining what good leaders do – we can’t wait to work on them!

4. Progression and support

Finally, these frameworks were initially conceived a part of the DfE’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy. David Weston has written here about how these frameworks and standards see an increased focus on professional development and support for teachers. Teachers do one of the most important jobs in the world. If we support and develop great teachers and leaders well, we will help all pupils succeed.

During one of the most challenging years for schools, it’s never been more important or exciting to see thinking about how best to support leaders. It’s something we continue to think hard about at Teach First as we design our NPQ programmes and work alongside school leaders.

At Teach First we offer a range of leadership programmes, helping those eager to step up and build a fairer education system access the tools to do it.

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