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National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership

Is the NPQEYL programme for me?

The National Professional Qualification for Early Years Leadership (NPQEYL) is primarily aimed at leaders qualified to at least level 3 with a *full and relevant qualification who are, or are aspiring to be:

  • managers of private, voluntary and independent nurseries
  • headteachers or leaders of school-based or maintained nurseries
  • childminders with leadership responsibilities

*Full and relevant qualifications’ are defined as qualifications that demonstrate depth and level of learning appropriate to specified outcomes of full early years, childcare or playwork qualifications. The qualification should have valid, reliable assessment and awarding procedures and must include an element of assessed performance evidence.

Early Years Providers:

Check you have permission from your setting leader or your committee, provider or owner if you are the setting leader, to undertake the NPQ. Check that you are eligible to take the NPQEYL as it is a leadership qualification. Where a prospective participant is an ‘aspiring manager’, we would expect that they would have the opportunity within their role to practice and embed the learning from the course and that they are close to applying for leadership/management positions. 

Reception Teachers / EYFS

The NPQEYL is open to staff in schools. As a reception teacher with an interest in progression in the Early Years, the NPQEYL may also be relevant to you. We would suggest firstly looking at the content framework here. This content framework underpins the NPQEYL and sets out what participants should know and be able to do after completing the course. Providers will use this framework to design their courses.

How does the NPQEYL work?

This 18-month programme consists of a series of seven modules based on the DfE’s Early Years Leadership NPQ framework. Each module cycle features evidence-based online content, a short formative assessment task to support your learning and a face-to-face seminar with a group of peers, facilitated by a local serving school leader.

Programme Modules

  • Culture
  • Child Development, Curriculum & Assessment
  • Additional and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • Professional Development
  • Organisational Management
  • Implementation
  • Working in Partnership

The module focused specifically on effective implementation will provide an opportunity to plan a strategic improvement, focused on your context.

More detail about the content of this NPQ can be found in the Core content frameworkwebsite.

What will I learn?

You’ll develop expertise in the knowledge, skills and concepts for leading an Early Years setting. These include best practice around child development and additional and specialist educational needs, as well as culture, organisational management and partnerships you may make as the leader of an Early Years setting.

Our content is informed by the best and most recent evidence and developed with input from serving leaders and subject-matter experts.

What are the training commitments?

The programme is designed to fit around your current work commitments. Over the course of the whole programme (spread over five terms), you’ll undertake approximately 77 hours of learning. This includes a combination of online seminars, online learning modules, two face-to-face conferences and a practical implementation cycle of 5 hours in which you plan the implementation of an improvement to your setting.

How will I be assessed?

The assessment process for all NPQs has been refreshed to reduce the workload burden on participants.

To pass the programme, you’ll need to engage with at least 90% of the course and pass one summative assessment. This assessment will take the form of a case study (given to you) which is a minimum of 2000 words in length and will cover content referred to in the relevant NPQ Content Framework. It will represent a likely situation to be faced by an Early Years Leader and will offer you an opportunity to demonstrate that you can successfully apply your learning from the programme.

You will have an eight-day window to provide a written response of a maximum of 1500 words for the case study (unless adjustments are required on an individual basis) in an ‘open book’ setting.


NPQ funding academic year 24/25

The DfE have announced today 21.3.24 the NPQ funding for NPQs starting in the Autumn 2024.

You can find further information here and on our Funding page

Lead providers have yet to publish the cost of undertaking a non funded NPQ.


Making an application


Before making an application, please contact us at 

It is important to collect together the information that you will require prior to starting the application form. 

Teacher Reference Number (TRN)

In order to apply for an NPQ you will need to have a TRN. If you already have one but have forgotten it, or you do not have a TRN, you will need to contact the DfE for clarification. You are able to request a TRN even if you do not hold QTS. We have attached a guidance sheet below which will take you through this process.

Find out more about the NPQ programmes.

Are you a colleague looking for more information about NPQs?

We are happy to arrange a virtual meeting with you to discuss an NPQ or NPQs. Please email our dedicated NPQ email to arrange an appointment with one of the team. 

Are you looking for a delivery solution for your MAT or group of schools?

OneCornwall is able to support bespoke NPQ cohorts for individual MATs or groups of schools. We are happy to arrange a virtual meeting with you to discuss your specific needs. Please email our dedicated NPQ email to arrange an appointment with one of the team. 

Dedicated NPQ email