NPQEYL: National Professional Qualification for Early Years Leadership

For early years' leaders who are or aspire to be managers.

Spring cohort 2023

About the programme

Who are you?

For leaders qualified to at least Level 3 with full and relevant qualification who are, or aspiring to be, managers of Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) nurseries, headteachers of school-based or maintained nurseries, or childminders with leadership responsibilities.

About the roles

Managers of PVI nurseries
Headteachers of school-based or maintained nurseries
Childminders with leadership responsibilities
Reception Class Teachers

Level 3 qualifications

While not a mandatory requirement, it is envisioned that NPQEYL participants should hold a 'full and relevant' Level 3 qualification (or higher), prior to starting the course. There may be instances where it is appropriate for participants without this to take the NPQ.

The statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS) (PDF) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe.

The EYFS sets out the ratio and qualification requirements for staff and providers. In settings on the Early Years Register, the manager must hold an approved level 3 qualification or above and at least half of all other staff must hold at least an approved level 2 qualification. The manager should have at least two years’ experience of working in an early years setting, or have at least two years’ other suitable experience.

These qualification requirements do not apply to childminders. However, childminders must have completed training which helps them to understand and implement the EYFS before they can register with Ofsted or a childminder agency. Ofsted recommends that prospective childminders speak to their local authority or a childminding association about training courses in their area.

The DfE has published a list showing the qualifications which meet the approved 'full and relevant' criteria for early years qualifications. If a participant is not sure whether they hold a full and relevant Level 3 qualification (or higher), please refer to the early years qualifications achieved in England on the GOV.UK website, where they will be able to check if their qualification is list.

Why join UCL?

The UCL Centre for Educational Leadership looks forward to working with you on their newly designed NPQ supporting you to deepen your knowledge of Early Years leadership within a collaborative and open learning environment.

Based on the latest research and evidence this new programme will enable you to take your new learning and develop your skills and put them into practice.

The NPQEYL puts you and your nursery* at the heart of the programme through a professional learning group approach that helps you to share your thinking and understanding within a well-planned framework. You will experience a blended approach of face to face, self-directed study materials and within context support to enable you to progress professionally and develop networks to enhance your career.

* ’Nurseries’ refers to private, voluntary and independent nurseries, school-based and maintained nurseries, and childminders.

What will you learn?

  • Culture - you will establish and sustain an effective nursery culture by setting the strategic direction within a climate of mutual trust and respect, underpinned by evidence-based practice. 
  • Child development, curriculum and assessment - you will learn how to establish and support high quality early education in your nursery, underpinned by formative assessment and tailored to children’s needs.  
  • Additional and special educational needs and disabilities - you will learn how to ensure all children experience success, enabling colleagues to identify and meet individual needs.  
  • Professional development - you will ensure that colleagues engage in effective and supportive professional development, making use of existing frameworks (including mentoring and coaching) to build upon existing knowledge and skills to improve outcomes for children. 
  • Organisational management - you will learn how to ensure   the protection and safety of children and colleagues through the establishment of effective systems and processes, managing human and financial resources and fulfilling all statutory duties to enable a sustainable and thriving nursery community.
  • Implementation - you will learn how to plan, deliver and sustain change successfully within your context by understanding the stages of implementation and aligning it with wider nursery improvement priorities.
  • Working in partnership - you will effectively work in partnership with all stakeholders, including parents carers, external agencies and services.

What are the benefits for your nursery?

We know that all children need early years professionals who are committed to their care and education and are confident learners themselves. Our programme has been developed with early years experts to:

  • Create professionally confident early years teachers, practitioners and leaders.
  • Grow the next generation of early years leaders with the skills and knowledge to use the evidence-base for the benefit of their children and families.
  • Retain the best early years professionals who are excellent, collaborative role models for their nurseries and communities. 
  • Inspire early years leaders who can harness the power of rich learning environments for all children no matter the current circumstances.

Is this programme for me?

Yes, if you lead or aspire to lead a nursery as a manager of a PVI nursery, a headteacher of a school-based or maintained nursery or a childminder with leadership responsibilities.

How long will it take?

Eighteen months followed by an eight day open book summative case study task.

Summary of programme and learning hours

  • Audit before start of the programme: 1 hour.
  • One day induction conference at the beginning of year one: 4 hours.
  • Four self-directed learning, learning journal and implementation project: 32 hours.
  • Three mentoring check-ins: 3 hours.
  • Peer learning group sessions: 3 hours.
  • Three face-to-face events: 3 hours.

Total programme = 75 hours

When will it start and how much will it cost?

The programme will start in October 2022. There will be an induction conference taking place on two dates in October 2022 which will be confirmed during the application process. Participants are required to attend one of these conferences.

The programme is fully funded for PVI nurseries, school-based nurseries, and childminders with leadership responsibilities. 

British International Schools can contact us directly for prices.

Are scholarships available for this programme?

Full scholarship funding, with no cost to the participant, for the NPQ in Early Years leadership is available for those who meet the following criteria:

  • Are, or are aspiring to be, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school-based nursery for children aged 0-5 years.
  • Are, or aspiring to be, a manager of a PVI for children aged 0-5 years. 
  • Are, or aspiring to be, a childminder with leadership responsibilities.


Teachers and leaders, employed in:

  • State-funded schools or state-funded 16-19 organisations in England
    This may include nurseries within schools, or local authority nursery schools.

Early Years practitioners and leaders, employed at:

  • Childcare providers registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register, providing childcare on non-domestic premises
    People or organisations providing care for individual children in premises that are not someone’s home. These are usually nurseries, pre-schools, holiday clubs and other group-based settings.
  • Childcare providers registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register, providing childcare on domestic premises.
    Providers where four or more people look after children together in a home that is not the child’s own.

Early Years practitioners and leaders, working as:

  • Childminders, registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register
    People who look after one or more children who they are not related to, for payment or reward. The care takes place in a home that is not the child’s own
  • Childminders, registered with an Ofsted-registered Childminder Agency, caring for early years children
    Childminder Agencies were introduced in September 2014 as an alternative registration option for childminders.

Contact Us

01829 752811
Kelsall Primary School, Flat Lane, Kelsall Cheshire