New! National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership (NPQEYL)

Register now for Autumn 2022 cohort

Register for an NPQ with the Hub | Register your interest here.

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 (subject to final contract agreement with the Department for Education).

  • 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 Ambition Institute & Northamptonshire Teaching School Hub?

Ambition Institute have 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.

Their ‘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.

What the Hub can do for you

  • As your local Teaching School Hub, we have been designated to deliver the DfE's golden thread of professional development to schools and early years settings in Northamptonshire.
  • Ambition Institute provides high-quality content and materials, built on experience in schools and other learning environments, and a deep knowledge of evidence and practice.
  • With our team of expert Visiting Fellows, we put this knowledge into context and our friendly team support and manage your experience on the programme, from facilitation to day-to-day support.

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.

*Sources: 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.


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

Over 18 months, this 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)
  • Seven two-hour online clinics (facilitated sessions)
  • One two-hour assessment clinic
  • Nine online communities (one-hour group sessions)

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.

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.


This course is free to all state schools in England (subject to confirmation by the Department for Education).

The Department for Education (DfE) may also provide scholarships funding for private, voluntary or independent nurseries and childminders. Register your interest and we’ll let you know as soon as we have more information.

If you meet the criteria above, you will also need to register for your NPQ using the DfE’s online registration portal.


We are now welcoming interest in our Autumn 2022 NPQ cohorts. Fill out this quick enquiry form and will be in touch when applications are open (subject to final contract agreement with the Department for Education).

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.

You can register your interest here.

If you have any questions, email and a member of our team will be in touch with next steps.