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NPQ for Early Years Leadership

NPQ for Early Years Leadership

NEW National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership (NPQEYL)

We’re pleased to announce that we are partnering with education charity Ambition Institute to deliver the new NPQ in Early Years Leadership.


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


Those doing the training will learn:

  • Gain a 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

Why this programme?

Ambition Institute has designed this ground-breaking new NPQ to help you develop your knowledge and understanding of what high-quality, early years education and care looks like.

Ambition’s ‘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 of Ambition’s NPQs share 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.


Accredited NPQ Provider


Benefits for you


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.



Barnett, W. S. (1995). “Long-term effects of early childhood programs on cognitive and school outcomes”. The Future of Children, 25-50.


Heckman, J., Pinto, R. and Savelyev, P. (2013). “Understanding the mechanisms through which an influential early childhood program boosted adult outcomes”. American Economic Review 103(6), 2052-2086.

Benefits for 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

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

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.


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

There are two assessment windows every year, and participants can sit the assessment two times, if they need to.

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

 Ambition Institute will offer a webinar and live clinic in advance of the assessment window to support participants.


NEW: Since autumn 2021, teachers and leaders employed in state-funded schools, as well as those employed in state-funded organisations in England that offer education to 16-19 year olds, have been able to access DfE funded training scholarships for all NPQs.

The Department of Education are now extending this funding for the next two years, to support participants undertaking NPQs in 22/23 and 23/24.

From autumn 2022, organisations eligible to access scholarships will include:

  • independent special schools.
  • virtual schools (Local Authority run organisations that support the education of children in care).
  • hospital schools not already included in other categories of eligible organisations.
  • young offender institutions.

In addition, Early years practitioners and leaders working in the following settings in England will be eligible for scholarship funding from the DfE for the NPQEYL only:

  • childcare providers registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register, providing childcare on non-domestic premises.
  • childcare providers registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register, providing childcare on domestic premises.
  • childminders registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register.
  • childminders registered with an Ofsted-registered childminder agency, caring for early years children.


If you do not work in an eligible school, the National Professional Qualification for Early Years Leadership costs  £1980 plus VAT.


To apply, you need to be an early years practitioner who is qualified to at least level three, with a full and relevant early years or teaching qualification.

You will be, or will be aspiring to be:

  • A manager of a private, voluntary or independent early years setting
  • A headteacher of a school-based or maintained early years setting
  • An early years foundation stage leader in a state funded school
  • A childminder with leadership responsibilities. 

Find out more by getting in touch with us, or apply here: https://forms.gle/MFpKmStiBZypY2kT9 


Our next cohorts will run in Autumn 22 and Spring 2023.