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National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership (NPQEYL)

Do you want to develop your expertise in early years care and education to help young people succeed at all stages in life? This programme gives you the knowledge to excel as a leader in your early years setting.

In 18 months, you’ll develop expertise in early years leadership, helping to give all children up to the age of five the best possible start in life.

  • Gain an NPQ for Early Years Leadership accreditation in 18 months
  • Access the latest evidence-based learning
  • Become an expert in early years education
  • Broaden your network of early years leaders

What are National Professional Qualifications (NPQs)?

National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) are the most widely recognised qualifications in the education sector for current and aspiring leaders. NPQs are open to all teachers and leaders in schools in England and Wales.

What our teachers will learn:

In 18 months, you’ll develop expertise in early years leadership, helping to give all children up to the age of five the best possible start in life.

Benefits to our schools:

  • One of a series of new, specialist NPQs
  • Create confident teacher leaders
  • Attract and retain staff.

Why were the NPQs reformed?

The reformed National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) offer teachers and leaders clearer development opportunities and career progression. These qualifications will build on key areas of the Early Career Framework (ECF), allowing for further specialisation and development of expertise and help prepare teachers and leaders for the next step in their careers.

The reformed qualifications aim to:

  • Help teachers hone and develop the skills they already have, helping them to become more effective leaders inside and outside the classroom and improving overall teaching quality.
  • Retain high-calibre teachers by offering clearer development opportunities and career progression.

Why this programme?

Accredited NPQ Provider

Working with The Ambition Institute, we’ve designed this new, fully funded, NPQ to help you develop your knowledge and understanding of what high-quality, early years education and care looks like.

Our ‘little and often’ approach uses the latest evidence to help you put your learning into practice in your early years setting. You’ll train alongside other early years leaders with similar responsibilities, focusing on developing your expertise to tackle the persistent problems you face in your role.

This is a new NPQ developed by the Department for Education. It was developed with an expert advisory group, and early years leaders, academics and experts. The programme sits alongside the NPQs for teachers and school leaders. Each NPQ shares the same common language and framework to help drive improvement across education.

With no project work and minimal time out of your early years’ setting, this NPQ is designed to fit around your busy timetable.

Thrive as a leader

This programme is designed specifically for leaders of early years education. Through evidence-based professional development, you’ll learn what great early years learning looks like and how to lead others and your setting. You’ll also look at what others can learn from you.

Close the gap

Evidence shows that high quality care and education in early years is fundamental for a child’s development, preparing them for school and later life*. We’ll help you to develop the knowledge to deliver this to the children you support.

Train to your timetable

This is a flexible programme, designed to fit around your existing work commitments. Most of the training can be completed at a time that suits you with minimal time spent away from your early years setting.

Connect with peers

You’ll train with people from early years settings, sharing your experiences and building a strong support network.

Tailor your training

The programme allows you to apply the theory to your early years’ setting.

Give young people the best start

Equipping your leaders with evidence-based training on what good education and care looks like will help to create a level playing field for children in the early stages of life.

Benefit from tailored training

This is the first NPQ that is designed specifically for early years practitioners. It will develop expertise that can be applied to identifying and addressing persistent and common challenges in early years leadership.

Invest in high-quality professional development

Participants will learn how to unpack and apply learning across all aspects of the early years – and support their colleagues to develop in these areas too.

Create a ‘golden thread’

The new NPQs are all aligned. Right from the start, your leaders will benefit from an evidence-based framework with a common language that they can pass onto colleagues.

Tap into a network

Your leaders will train alongside peers from other early years settings, supported by facilitators who fully understand their needs.

What you’ll learn

Our programmes are designed so you can engage in live, facilitated sessions alongside modules you can complete at any time.

The launch conference for the Ambition central cohort will be held on Friday 4 November and will run from 10am-5pm. This event will be taking place in-person and will be held in Coventry. The venue details will be provided during your onboarding.

Over 18 months, our NPQEYL includes:

  • Two live conferences (each lasting six hours)
  • Nine courses (each course lasts six weeks)
  • Each course includes six modules
  • 54 insight and practice modules (completed at a time that suits you)
  • Six two-hour online clinics (facilitated sessions)
  • One two-hour assessment clinic
  • Nine online communities (one-hour group sessions)

This programme follows the Department for Education’s National Professional Qualification: Early Years Leadership Framework.

You will learn how to:

  • Set a strategic direction for your early years setting and apply ambitious standards for all children
  • Champion evidence-based practice
  • Plan and deliver care and a high-quality curriculum to support children’s development
  • Establish communication, language and literacy approaches to support children’s learning
  • Make sure all children experience success
  • Identify children who need support and make appropriate referrals
  • Create an environment for all children and colleagues where everyone feels welcome and safe.

Note: programme content is subject to change.

How you’ll learn

How you’ll learn

The programme is delivered through blended learning. This includes a mix of real-time interactive online sessions, face-to-face training, peer-led sessions and self-guided modules which you complete in your own time.

How you’ll learn

The content is delivered through blended learning. This includes a mix of real-time, interactive online sessions and self-guided modules you complete in your own time. You will be encouraged to put what you learn into practice and track your progress as you go.

Note: programme content is subject to change.


The assessment window starts at the end of the 18-month programme and runs for three months. During this time, you’ll be given an eight-day window to sit an ‘open book’ style assessment in which you respond to a short case study.

There are two assessment windows every year, and you can sit the assessment twice if you need to.

You need to complete the course to qualify for the NPQ accreditation.

We will offer a webinar and live clinic in advance of the assessment window to support you.