Just the ticket? The National Professional Qualification and the transition to headship in the East Midlands of England

Christopher Rhodes, M Brundrett, A Nevill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    This article seeks to explore the influence of the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) in England in supporting aspirant heads to make the transition to headship. It draws upon a sample of NPQH graduates confirming their perceived readiness for headship prior to the commencement of their NPQH programme. A questionnaire survey of 156 NPQH graduates and subsequent interviews with 15 of the graduates secured perceptions from those who had already made the transition to headship, those who were still intending to and those who were now no longer intending to seek headship. These perceptions encompassed transition preparedness with respect to 20 facets drawn from the National Standards for Head Teachers published by the Department for Education and Skills, the benefits and shortcomings of the NPQH taught element, as well as NPQH-related experiences in schools, outside schools and in non-professional life. Interpretation of findings draws upon a transition framework, developed by T. Brown-Ferrigno in 2003, encompassing role conceptualisation, initial socialisation, role-identity transformation and purposeful engagement. Findings depict the importance of a journey aided by timely leadership experience, support, confidence-building, networking and direct contact with incumbent senior leaders prior to NPQH. Although NPQH also provides some of these essential elements, it may not, in itself, mend the broken journeys of some individuals who are unable to overcome personal and professional difficulties and overturn deeply rooted perceptions of the difficulties associated with headship and hence fail to make the transition to headship. A recent revision of the NPQH programme has sought to better address personal needs analysis and readiness for headship beyond that available in the programme experienced by the NPQH graduates included in the present sample. This may further assist in improving transition rates. The study recommends identified successful elements of development be retained or extended in subsequent revisions of NPQH and suggests that candidate experiences prior to NPQH require additional intervention nationally and better accommodation within NPQH if it is to provide maximum support for transition at a time of leadership shortages.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)449-468
    Number of pages20
    JournalEducational Review
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


    • NPQH
    • leadership shortages
    • headship
    • transition rates
    • leadership development


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