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NPQ in Early Years Leadership

NPQs at the National Institute of Teaching are school-led: our organisation was founded by four leading Multi-Academy Trusts, and our programmes are designed and delivered with a focus on the realities of schools and nurseries. Because teachers’ time is precious, our programmes are respectful of your time, and designed to have immediate impact on the pupils and colleagues in your school, as well as the colleagues and children you will work with in the future.

Nursery manager or headteacher, Childminder with leadership responsibilities
National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership (NPQEYL)
Start Date:
October 2024
Programme Length:
18 months
Limited scholarship funding available for eligible schools or £1050
  • Overview
  • Who's it for?
  • Why study at the NIoT?
  • What you'll learn
  • How you'll learn
  • Time commitment
  • Location
  • Assessment
  • How to apply
  • Funding


As you know, and as a wealth of research supports, there is no time more critical in a child’s life than their early years. As the leader of an Early Years provision, you have the ability to shape their experience, contribute to developing their personal wellbeing and sense of security, and prime them to be ready to learn in a school environment.

Through the NPQEYL, you will develop your knowledge of how children learn and develop, hear from colleagues who have proven track records in working with very young children and babies, as well as visiting exemplary settings to learn more about how leaders have created the environment and learning space for children to thrive. You will benefit from actionable take-aways you can use immediately in your setting, as well as preparing for your future career development.

Who's it for?

This course is for leaders qualified to at least level 3 or equivalent with a full and relevant qualification who are, or want to be:

  • managers of private, voluntary and independent nurseries
  • headteachers or leaders of school-based or maintained nurseries
  • childminders with leadership responsibilities
  • other early years foundation stage leaders, such as reception class teachers or early years co-ordinators

If you work in a school, discuss with your headteacher or provider which NPQ best meets your need.

Why study at the NIoT?

The National Institute of Teaching was founded by four leading multi-academy trusts. Our programmes are underpinned by leading research and driven by what we have found works best in schools. Through our programmes, we aim to ensure participants develop their leadership to ensure their hard work and dedication has the maximum impact on pupils.

Our programmes are school-led: they are delivered by individuals who work in schools and nurseries, right now. That means they have the in-depth, domain-specific knowledge to help you grapple with content at the right level, and to support you to problem-solve and apply learning to your own context.

Our programmes are centred on impact: our aim is for your practice to improve and develop in your current context, and for you to be ready and to take the next step in your career as a result of learning with us. We have designed our programmes carefully, and work closely with school leaders through our regional structures, as well as working with participants, to ensure our programmes are impactful in your context.

Our programmes are respectful of your time: we know you spend most of your time doing the most important job there is – serving the children in your community. That’s why our programmes are designed to be flexible, to deliver exactly what you need in the most time-efficient manner possible, and to have impact.

Our programmes are rooted in research: every aspect of what you learn is based on the best available research as well as what we have seen and experienced to work best in our founding multi-academy trusts and associate colleges.

Our programmes allow you to build a community: our in-person local seminars are focused on peer learning and problem solving together. As well as applying your learning to your own context, you will have the opportunity to build your network and support one another’s development beyond your time learning with the NIoT.

What you'll learn

  • How to establish and sustain your nursery’s strategic direction
  • How to embed an excellent culture in your nursery
  • How to develop a high-quality curriculum which supports the development of very young children, including their language development, communication and literacy
  • How to support children’s behaviour and social and emotional development in your setting
  • How to monitor the progress children are making in your setting, and how to ensure all pupils’ needs are met without creating unnecessary workload
  • How to develop your colleagues’ practice
  • How to work effectively with internal and external stakeholders
  • All the critical operational aspects of running a nursery, including safeguarding, admissions, risk management, HR and finance

How you'll learn

Local seminars: extend your learning with an expert, school or nursery leader facilitator, build your network and apply your learning to your own context.

Virtual school visits: visit some of the country’s leading schools and nurseries, learning about how they have developed and improved their practice over time to deliver exceptional outcomes and experiences for very young children.

Online masterclasses: hear school and nursery-based sector experts sharing best practice from their context and experience.

Online group coaching: apply your learning to scenarios and to your own context, with the feedback and guidance of an expert school or nursery-based coach.

Online self-studies: learn cutting-edge research and how it is being applied successfully in schools.

Time commitment

There are three or four scheduled events every half term, some online and some in-person. There are also around six hours of self study.


Please contact so that we can let you know your nearest National Institute of Teaching delivery school or centre.

We can confirm that we will be delivering NPQs in schools near the following locations:

North and West: Blackburn, Manchester, Leyland and Skelmersdale

South, East and London: Norwich, London and South Essex

North and East: Tyne and Wear, Doncaster, Redcar, Halifax, Gateshead, Washington, Peterlee and Grimsby

South and West: Birmingham, Bristol, Devon, Cornwall, Swindon, South Staffordshire, Dudley, Sandwell, Worcester and Walsall

More locations will be added regularly, please check back/apply and we’ll confirm if there’s delivery near you.


In order to receive NPQEYL accreditation, participants will need to complete the programme and achieve a pass mark in a written, ‘open book’ style, structured assessment of up to 2,000 words.

We will support participants with writing clinics before they embark on gaining their accreditation.

The assessment itself takes place over an eight-day window. There are two assessment windows per year and participants have two opportunities to take part.  

How to apply

To join the next NIoT NPQEYL cohort, please complete our online application form.


Funding update for Autumn 2024:

It has now been confirmed that funding for this NPQ will be available for those teachers and leaders who work in the most challenging schools or educational settings, serving more disadvantaged communities. Specifically, schools with the highest 50% of pupil premium pupils will be eligible to receive this funding.

If your school is not eligible for funding, the course cost is £1050.

We are expecting more details from the DfE in the summer on the practical arrangements on how funding will work, and will update this page as soon as we have this. In the meantime you can find the DfE messaging here.

Contact us

Please get in touch to find out more about our programmes and find out where we are delivering them near you.

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