Middle Leader (NPQML)

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Help your school thrive: become a leader with an NPQML from our accredited middle leadership course.

  • Gain an NPQ in Middle Leadership
  • Receive flexible, evidence-based training
  • Solve your school’s specific challenges
  • Get one-to-one expert support
  • Join a passionate network striving for educational equality
February 2021 to March 2022
Feb 2021 programme: applications now open

Unlock your talent as a middle leader and fulfil your school's potential.


Gain a National Professional Qualification

Boost your career with a highly respected NPQ in Middle Leadership. We’re one of the few organisations accredited to provide these nationally. 

Key facts

  • 90% of teachers say leadership development opportunities encourage them to stay in a school.
  • Around 850,000 young people are not benefiting from good or outstanding leadership, according to Ofsted.
  • Effective leadership makes schools ten times more likely to improve at their next Ofsted inspection.

Solve your school’s specific challenges

Each stage of the NPQ-accredited programme is tailored to your school's needs and designed to address your daily challenges. It’ll give you the skills to develop and implement plans that’ll have real impact on teachers and pupils.

You'll be providing practical solutions - not just ticking theoretical boxes. 

One-to-one expert support

We provide one-to-one support and training from accomplished educators, on hand to offer guidance when you need it. They’re experienced school leaders who’ve been where you are - so they know how to help you get the most out of the training.

You'll also get: 

  • Virtual learning groups that connect you with others on the programme, so an understanding friend is always at your fingertips. 
  • Networking opportunities throughout the programme, where you can build valuable connections in your region and across the country.
  • Online workshops with programme peers and education experts.

Expert, flexible school leadership training

Most of the NPQML course can be taken online - meaning you can fit it around your schedule at a pace that suits you.

You’ll also attend our face-to-face events, where you’ll review your work, prepare for the next stages and connect with leaders in your region.

Join a passionate network of leaders striving for educational equality

Share experiences with other school leaders, learn how they’ve faced similar challenges and build a professional network that’ll support you throughout your career.

Looking for a different leadership programme?

Department for Education logo with text - 'Accredited NPQ provider'

Become a confident school leader

Schools are

10x more likely

to improve with effective leadership

Teachers around desks


A programme with real impact

From the feedback we’ve had from people who’ve completed our leadership programmes, we know that their experiences are highly rated:

  • 81% of programme members rated the quality of support from their Development Lead as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
  • 77% told us that the NPQs ‘effectively developed their leadership skills’.
  • 75% agreed that the NPQs ‘provided access to evidence-based training for improving schools with similar challenges to your own’.
  • An impressive 89% pass rate on first submission.

For many, the programme element that really stood out for them was the one-to-one coaching support from their Development Lead.

Leadership matters

That’s a fact. We want to make sure schools that teach the most disadvantaged pupils get the best leadership training and support to succeed. That’s good for young people, who get brilliant leaders; good for teachers who want to progress; and good for schools who get to develop and keep talented staff.

We’ve researched the issue extensively:

Read our report

We found there are plenty of teachers and leaders eager to step up given the opportunity. Our aim is to provide leadership courses that give them the ongoing career development they want.

Key report findings

Our report found under-developed leadership was widespread, impacting disadvantaged pupils the most:
  • Around 850,000 young people are not benefiting from good or outstanding leadership, according to Ofsted.
  • 14% of schools in the UK's poorest communities are given the worst Ofsted scores for leadership - compared to 5% in wealthier areas.
  • 63% of senior leaders say their school does not provide enough leadership opportunities.
  • 18% of senior leaders have had no leadership training at all.
But great leadership training at all levels can change that:
  • Schools are ten times more likely to improve at their next Ofsted inspection with effective leadership.
  • 93% of teachers say training tailored to their school’s needs is the most effective.
  • 90% of teachers say leadership development opportunities encourage them to stay at a school.

Looking for a different leadership programme?

Structured, detailed and very manageable... The support I received from my (Development Lead), was also terrific!
Programme member


say our NPQs 'effectively developed their leadership skills'

Teacher sits with pupils at the Dean Academy


Is the middle leader programme right for you?

You're a prime candidate for this programme if:

  • you’re an aspiring or newly appointed middle leader
  • you're responsible for a team (such as a subject leader, key stage leader or head of department)
  • you're looking to increase your impact
  • you have completed your NQT year.

For more detail about our NPQ levels on offer, read more here:

Which NPQ is right for you?

Why should headteachers consider it for their school?

Career development opportunities (and ongoing support) encourage teachers to thrive right where they are. That’s why our leadership programmes are so valuable – they keep great teachers and leaders in their schools for the long term, while increasing their positive impact.

Not only does a middle leader add skills to your team: this person will create and implement a plan that directly addresses issues affecting your pupils. They’ll also become part of a wider network of teachers and schools, all attempting to give young people from the poorest backgrounds the best shot at success.    

How it works

The development of key leadership skills lies at the heart of the programme – and is achieved through the design, implementation and review of a project aimed at improving pupil outcomes and staff capacity.

It’s delivered in four stages:

  1. Pinpoint issues that are holding pupils back and work out the causes.
  2. Develop your ability to address those issues and create a plan focused on your school's improvement priorities that will tackle them effectively.
  3. Onboard colleagues and stakeholders and integrate your plan into every aspect of school life.
  4. Reflect on your plan and make improvements an intrinsic part of your school’s culture.

You’ll learn in two ways:  

  • Online and in school. All the high-quality resources that come with the programme are available online. You’ll access knowledge and tools to help you reflect on and track your leadership development, tackling the issues impacting your school. Each stage requires around ten hours of online learning through modules. You can take these as and when you choose.
  • Live training sessions. Get together online (and in-person where possible) with leadership experts and fellow programme members to review your work, prepare for the next stages and share experiences. There are several focused learning events throughout the NPQ programme: these will be a mixture of virtual and in-person sessions (where government guidelines permit), both one-to-one and in groups, providing an opportunity to focus on your context, deepen your understanding, and access support to reflect on your own and your pupils’ progress.

Support at every turn

We go out of our way to provide great support. We know that with it you’ll get the most out of the programme and, in turn, so will your pupils. You’ll get:

  • One-to-one support with an expert ready to share their deep knowledge of middle leadership and project development skills. 
  • Virtual learning groups that connect you with others on the programme online, so an understanding friend is always at your fingertips.
  • Networking opportunities throughout the programme, where you can build valuable, ongoing connections in your region and across the country.
  • Where permitted, in-person events with current school leaders and education experts. There will also be online workshops with others on the programme. 

Looking for a different leadership programme?

Teacher standing with pupils at Thornaby academy

Our NPQ programmes have a

89% pass rate

on first submission

Teacher with two pupils


Cost: £800

We offer our high-quality programmes at a significantly subsidised rate to make them accessible to leaders in schools tackling the biggest challenges.

Looking for a different leadership programme?

A university undergraduate at a Teach First event.
Pupils in a science lesson


Is your school eligible?

To take part in our NPQML programme you need to be working at a school that is either a Teach First partner, or eligible to be one. That means your school must be in England and teach a high number of pupils from low-income backgrounds. This is because we want all our funding to be directed at those who need it most. 

Our NPQ programmes are open to any teacher or leader at eligible schools, not only those who have trained with us. 

We calculate which schools are eligible using the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) and Achieving Excellence Areas (AEA): a measure which identifies parts of the country where children persistently underperform. 

Based on these scoring systems, eligible schools must fall under one of these categories:

  • An IDACI of 40 or greater (this means 40% of pupils are living in low-income homes).
  • An IDACI of 35 to 40 and an AEA score of 4 to 6.
  • An IDACI of 30 to 35 and an AEA of 5 or 6.
  • An IDACI of 25 to 30 and an AEA score of 6.

We prioritise applications from teachers working at a school that’s either a Teach First partner school or eligible to be one.

If you’re not sure if your school is eligible, please email TFSLP@teachfirst.org.uk

Before applying

To make applying as easy as possible, take a look at our short application guidance document.

Please note that to apply for this programme you need to have completed your NQT year.

You should also talk to your headteacher and make sure they’re happy for you to join and to fund your place. You should tell them that:

  • everyone on the programme is expected to attend the live training sessions (online or in person, depending on government advice). Where possible these will be arranged out of school hours
  • your school will need to cover any travel expenses for those training days; however, we will provide some support with travel and accommodation costs related to event attendance, for those who need to travel beyond a reasonable distance - this is outlined in our travel policy
  • your school is responsible for arranging teaching cover if needed for the live training sessions
  • each stage of the programme requires dedicated time spent on online learning
  • your school is responsible for funding the cost of the programme
  • we also recommend that your headteacher considers who to nominate as your in-school ‘sponsor’ or mentor for the programme

Once that's all done, you're ready to apply:

Apply now

If you've still got questions about any aspect of the programme or the application process, email us at TFSLP@teachfirst.org.uk - we're happy to help.

Looking for a different leadership programme?

Teacher in front of whiteboard.
Teachers sitting around a desk
If you have that drive to ensure you’re always improving, always thinking about your leadership qualities and skills, go for this programme.
Katie Matthews,
English teacher and Middle Leader programme member

Join our webinar for insider knowledge on our NPQ programmes

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