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NPQ in Early Years Leadership

Our NPQEYL is designed for ambitious early-years leaders who want to be – or already are – nursery managers, nursery headteachers or childminders with leadership responsibilities.

Developed by some of the most successful school leaders in the country, the programme will harness the NIoT’s leading research, putting it to practical use. Because our programme has been designed by teacher-educators with a wealth of experience between them, there will be no time wasted: we will provide only the information essential to helping you do your job efficiently, effectively and in a way that brings out the best in all children.

Nursery manager or headteacher, Childminder with leadership responsibilities
National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership (NPQEYL)
Start Date:
February 2024
Programme Length:
18 months
DfE funding available (see detail below)
  • Overview
  • Benefits
  • Why study at the NIoT?
  • Curriculum
  • Time commitment
  • Location
  • Assessment
  • How to apply
  • Funding


Early-years education sets the stage for what will follow at primary and secondary school. If children are to grow into fulfilled, successful adults, it is absolutely vital that they receive the best, most nurturing early-years education possible.

Our NPQEYL is designed to help early-years leaders plan and deliver a high-quality curriculum to support child development. You will have access to cutting-edge research, helping you to build a teaching culture based on what works.

It will cover language and literacy approaches, personal, social and emotional development and behaviour management. And, in a sector where there is rarely enough cash to go around, you will learn to prioritise, allocate and manage resources for long-term sustainability.

The focus, always, is on being able to provide the children in your care with the education, encouragement and support – and so the future – they deserve.


  • Essential knowledge: There is no fluff – the programme was developed by early-years professionals, so that every minute spent working towards an NPQEYL will enable you to make a greater impact in your job.
  • Research-informed practice: You’ll have access to the latest and best evidence of what works in education, but will also be supported in turning it into real, hands-on practice.
  • The best for all children: This course will enable you to devise an ambitious curriculum that will support child development and allow all the children in your care to flourish.
  • Stretching a budget: You’ll learn about budgeting, funding and marketing, so that you can ensure your resources go as far as possible.
  • Community of educators: You’ll be part of a diverse community of educators, all learning from one another during the course – and potentially afterwards, too.
  • Fulfilment: The better and more knowledgeable you are at your job, the more enjoyable and exciting you will find it – and that enthusiasm will be passed on to your pupils.

Why study at the NIoT?

We are a new, pioneering institute, representing a diverse community of schools, across all sectors. Our blend of online and in-person learning will include masterclasses with teachers and teacher-educators who are specialists in their fields. And we offer a chance to work with early-years settings across a wide range of contexts.

We will be generating our own research, and putting those findings to immediate use in the classroom. We are part of a new school-led movement to change education – if you join us, you will be helping to shape the teaching profession for the future. And you will be learning alongside similarly driven, enthusiastic early-years leaders, building networks and forging connections.

We are rooted in schools. We know the unpredictability of school life – the day-to-day challenges that teachers face. Every single element of our course is specifically designed by early-years professionals, to help you become the best and most effective leader you can be.


What you’ll learn:

  • How to establish and sustain your setting’s strategic direction
  • How to develop an evidence-based teaching culture
  • How to plan and deliver a high-quality, nurturing curriculum, which supports child development and helps all children to flourish
  • How to implement communication, language and literacy approaches to support children’s learning
  • How to manage children’s behaviour effectively, and to support their personal, social and emotional learning, so that they feel cared for and fulfilled
  • How to ensure that all leaders, practitioners and teachers can identify any additional needs early on, and have the necessary knowledge to make appropriate referrals
  • How to prioritise, allocate and manage resources effectively, in order to ensure sustainability across all settings
  • Rigorous approaches to identifying, managing and mitigating risk

How you’ll learn:

The programme is made up of eight modules, studied over 18 months. Each module contains a combination of self-study units, locally delivered in-person sessions, online masterclasses delivered by specialists, coaching and virtual visits to a school.

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: Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Blackpool, Blackburn and Preston.

South, East and London: Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Norwich, London and South Essex

North and East: Tyne and Wear, Doncaster, Redcar and Halifax

South and West: Birmingham, Bristol, Swindon, Coventry, Trowbridge and Worcester

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, first complete our application form. You will also need to register with the Department for Education before you begin the programme.


Places are fully funded by the DfE for leaders employed in a maintained nursery or preschool class that forms part of a school in England, or in a nursery registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register. Fully funded places are also available for childminders registered with Ofsted or with a registered childminder agency and working with early-years children. There will be no cost to the participant.

You can study towards more than one NPQ, but will only be eligible for funding for each NPQ once. If you withdraw from or fail your course, you will not be funded again for the same NPQ.

If you are not eligible for funding, please get in touch for further information on programme costs.

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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