National Professional Qualification
(NPQs) for International Schools

Accredited by the UK Department for Education, the Outstanding Leaders Partnership is the leading provider of the National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) globally.

The NPQs are a suite of four leadership qualifications for aspirant middle leaders through to executive leads and equip candidates with the skills, knowledge and understanding to lead sustainable improvement across their schools.

Our NPQ provision has expanded rapidly across the international schools community with leaders and their schools choosing professional qualification as a driver for improvement and a mark of quality for their workforce.

We were recently rated ‘Exceptional’ by the DfE’s quality assurance agent and voted ‘Company of the Year’ at the BETT Awards. We are the market leader, and to date have supported over 500 candidates from 60+ countries to access and complete an NPQ.

Our internationally delivered qualifications include:

Which NPQ is right for me?

Who's it for? Aspiring or current middle leaders leading across a team Aspiring or current senior leaders leading across a school Aspiring or current headteachers leading a school Aspiring or current executive leaders with responsibility across more than one school
Who can apply?
  • Key Stage leader
  • Curriculum leader
  • Subject leader
  • Head of Department
  • Any similar leadership role
  • Deputy Headteacher
  • SEN Coordinator
  • Assistant Headteacher
  • Any similar leadership role
  • NLE
  • Deputy Headteacher
  • Assistant Headteacher
  • Headteacher
  • Any similar leadership role
  • Headteachers
  • Executive Headteachers
  • School Improvement Directors
  • Any similar leadership role
Intakes Autumn & Spring Autumn & Spring Autumn & Spring Autumn & Spring
Duration 12–18 months 12–18 months 12–18 months 12–18 months
Delivery Model face-to-face or online-only face-to-face or online-only face-to-face or online-only face-to-face or online-only
DfE accredited
No. of face-to-face days 3 3 5 4 including 2 two-day residentials’
No. of online courses 3 3 3 3
Personal online tutor
Guided learning hours 84 84 106 115
Assessment School improvement project across a team - see examples School improvement project across whole school - see examples Two school improvement projects in own school and placement school - see examples Design improvement strategy for own school and lead a project to improve progress and attainment across several schools - see examples
Master's credits Up to 40* Up to 60* Up to 100* Up to 60*

** number of credits awarded is at the discretion of universities

Who is this for?

NPQs for international schools are suitable for school leaders at each stage of their career, starting with Middle Leadership and progressing to Senior Leadership, Headship and finally to Executive Leadership.

Candidates access the highest quality development – crafted by practising professionals and CPD experts and delivered in a way that is attuned to demanding work schedules. Content is contextualised to the needs of international school leaders.

Applicants must:

  • be employed in a school setting outside of the UK
  • have the support of your Principal

The NPQs are taught and assessed in English and therefore requires all participants to be proficient in the use of the English language.

Our internationally delivered qualifications include:


Benefits for candidates

    • Improve outcomes for pupils across the school
    • Increased capability and capacity to take on leadership; having the skills, knowledge and understanding to do the job more effectively
    • Transferable qualification for leaders relocating to UK schools
    • Contextualised to the needs of the international schools workforce and underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
    • Masters credits towards an MA in Educational Leadership

Benefits for schools

    • Staff retention and succession
    • Build a cohesive, impact-focused school leadership team
    • Evidence-based sustainable school improvement undertaken to reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment and to improve teaching
    • A professionally aware and informed leader who can make evidence-based decisions and approach new challenges in an effective and efficient manner

Programme Outline

Candidates are expected to complete the qualification within a 12 month period and benefit from:

  • either distance learning or a blend of online learning and face-to-face training events
  • three guided online courses working alongside peers
  • regular online conferences to support and complement learning
  • access to two 360° leadership skills diagnostics
  • support from a nominated in-school mentor
  • facilitation from serving school leaders in outstanding schools
  • local and flexible access to high-quality leadership training
  • dedicated online tutor to support school improvement project planning
  • mobile-enabled virtual learning environment enabling flexible access to course resources and support community
  • up to 100 masters credits available depending on your choice of qualification

Event Content

Candidates are supported by school leaders with extensive experience within the international school sector. Events are delivered either face-to-face or for online-only candidates through a series of interactive online activities and webinar sessions.

How is it delivered?

We offer international colleagues the choice of two learning pathways:

Face-to-face – Delivered through face-to-face events and facilitated online courses. Events are hosted by our growing network of international partner schools and facilitated by serving school leaders.

Online-only – Delivered through webinars, study packs and facilitated online courses. Candidates are supported by a dedicated online tutor.

Candidates will usually complete the qualification within 12-18 months dependent upon the school improvement project they elect to undertake.

Programme delivery consists of:

  • three training events
  • three guided online courses working alongside peers
  • regular online conferences to support and complement learning
  • two 360° leadership skills diagnostics
  • facilitation from experienced international school leaders
  • dedicated online tutor to support project planning and provide pastoral support
  • option to accrue credits to contribute towards an MA in Educational Leadership

Our blended learning model

Our distance learning model


To date, we have supported over 500 candidates from 60+ countries to access and complete an NPQ.

Regional Partners

We work with a wide range of regional partners to provide school leaders access to local face-to-face training. If you would like to undertake an NPQ face-to-face then you can access delivery in any of the following locations:

  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • England, UK
  • Hong Kong
  • Kiev, Ukraine
  • New York, USA

If your school(s) wish to access NPQs for a group of staff, then please get in touch. We are able to run delivery in-house for your school, work with you as a regional partner to offer the training locally in your area, and we can also offer group rates on course fees.

What does it cost?

Face-to-face international delivery is currently suspended. International candidates can now complete NPQs via our safe and convenient "Facilitated Online International" delivery model which makes use of facilitated online workshops, extra support from personal tutors and supplementary study packs.

Self-funding candidates are offered a 10% discount on the programme fees (see table below). Schools enrolling three or more candidates will be given three months access to the School Suite - fully-accredited online CPD for teachers and support staff. See for more information.

Delivery model Programme School fee

Self-funding fee

Facilitated Online International













Face-to-Face International Currently suspended until further notice

Payment by Instalment

Payment can be made in one lump sum or in 3 equal instalments spread over 6 months with the first instalment to be received just prior to beginning the programme. 

NPQML Qualification Specification
NPQSL Qualification Specification
NPQH Qualification Specification
NPQEL Qualification Specification

"I know the quality of the provision Best Practice Network offers; the training of the facilitators and the support and follow through for course participants. They have a good standing and reputation within the UK educational field and will both support us in this new venture in the UAE and ensure the participants and deliverers are helped to make it a success."
William Houldsworth, Director of Education at Aldar Academies