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NPQ Testimonials and Case Studies

Find out first hand from our Facilitators and Programme Members what the NPQs are really like!

Martin Lee - NPQLTD Facilitator : professional learning for all

Martin Lee headshot

CTSN SCITT Director Martin Lee is a facilitator on the NPQ Leading Teacher Development (NPQLTD) delivered in partnership with Teach First. Here we speak to Martin about how he got involved in the NPQLTD, the objectives of the programme and why others should consider applying to it.

Tell us about your role on the NPQLTD.

“I meet with the NPQLTD cohort eight times during terms one and two to reflect on their learning activity. Through these online seminars we discuss issues and get the benefit of other people’s perspectives. I am also involved in two face-to-face conferences through the year.”

Why did you offer your services as a facilitator?

“At CTSN SCITT we have undertaken a lot of activity with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Teaching School Hub since its inception, and the wider network of Teaching School Hubs. We also had an extremely strong working relationship with schools partnerships pre-dating the Hubs, and were initially one ITT provider for 10 Teaching Schools, so the Hub set-up is the obvious extension to that and for our support. I am particularly interested in how ITT fits into the ECF – establishing a joined-up process within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – and the NPQTLD is pertinent to teacher education.”

Who is this NPQ specifically aimed at?

"It is for teachers and school leaders who have, or aspire to have, responsibilities for leading the development of others in their school. On our NPQLTD cohorts so far the majority are assistant headteachers, phase leaders, subject leaders and ITT leads. ITT is interesting because the recent ITT market review report outlines an aspiration for lead mentors to take the NPQLTD or one of two other specialist NPQs.”

Why should others consider becoming facilitators?

“On a moral purpose level it is brilliant. You have the opportunity to help colleagues gain a national qualification and support the growing number of schools which have teacher education and CPD based on an ever more secure understanding of professional learning. This goes to the heart of what a professional is – professionals take responsibility for ownership of their knowledge base – and this NPQ is the process where we help them engage in the evidence base and apply it in schools: educating teachers who, as a result, can be more creative and design for the process of learning for their pupils.”

What does success look like for NPQs?

“Fundamentally NPQs bring a stronger understanding of the evidence base which underpins professional learning, and for schools to recognise them as such. We need to ensure that these principles are extended beyond the ECF into teacher education at all levels, including those responsible for teacher development. Outcomes should include discussing the evidence base, taking it back into school, and bringing common understanding amongst those responsible for teacher learning/teacher education. That should help them design highly efficient teacher educator programmes relating to their own context.”


Interested in becoming an NPQ facilitator with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Teaching School Hub? We are looking for excellent and successful leaders with good understanding of the latest evidence-based research into one or more of the following: effective pedagogical practices, effective behaviour management and leadership, effective teacher development or effective school leadership. Click here to access our NPQ facilitator application form.

Sinead Gervis - NPQLT cohort 1a : NPQs and interview success

"I have been an SEN teacher for nearly 7 years. Over the last year or so I started to take on more whole school responsibilities and started to think about my professional development. The NPQLT course supported me significantly in that. I have recently been promoted to a TLR role of communication and interaction manager for my school. The knowledge I have gained from the course helped me to prepare for this and my interview questions. In the interview it enabled me to articulate how I would support colleagues, handle challenging conversations and develop progression and learning across the school. I would highly recommend this course if you are taking the next step to become a middle leader!" - Sinead Gervis Teach First NPQLT cohort 1a.

Pav Saunders - NPQLTD & NPQLT Facilitator : learning for life

Portrait photo of Pav SaundersEducation Consultant Pav Saunders is a facilitator on the NPQ Leading Teacher Development (NPQLTD) and Leading Teaching (NPQLT). Here we catch up with Pav, previously a Headteacher for 21 years, about her work on the NPQs, her wider experience as an assessor and facilitator, and why she is so dedicated to ‘learning for life’.

How did you become involved with CPTSH?

“I have a long history with Leadership East, part of Meridian Trust, and through that I also previously delivered programmes for Cambridge Primary Education Trust and got to know Lesley Birch and CPTSH colleagues.”

Tell us about your own history with NPQs.

“I have been delivering the NPQs since the late 1990s. At that time, I was Headteacher at Fawbert and Barnard’s Primary School in Essex, and I recognised that I needed to diversify my experience. I am particularly interested in staff development and want to develop other people. I am an accredited leadership coach and have been involved in developing leadership programmes. As well as the NPQLTD and NPQLT, I deliver other NPQs for different providers.”

You are a champion of ‘learning for life’ – what drives you around that?

“I am a lifelong learner. I strongly believe that everyone learns something new every day and ‘learning for life’ became our school motto. I left Headship 10 years ago and have never lost that passion to develop leaders of the future. In the same way that you get the pleasure of seeing children learn and grow to open up career prospects, helping adults to achieve their leadership potential gives me the same satisfaction. I am proud to say that four Headteachers have emerged from my time at Fawbert and Barnard’s Primary School.”

Why should teachers consider signing up to NPQs?

“The NPQs we have today are potentially more powerful than they have ever been. However, professional development needs to be a priority. Time must be committed to it, and the overall approach valued by staff/leaders. Traditionally, professional development is one of the first things to get cut when schools budgets are hit or become tighter. However, with these NPQs being free, they enable staff to have focussed CPD.”

What does success look like from these programmes?

“When participants have successfully completed their NPQ they will hopefully become effective and efficient leaders who are able to use research evidence to help colleagues develop. Participants on the programmes tell us they are enjoying applying their new knowledge and skills within their schools.”


Interested in becoming an NPQ facilitator with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Teaching School Hub? We are looking for excellent and successful leaders with good understanding of the latest evidence-based research into one or more of the following: effective pedagogical practises, effective behaviour management and leadership, effective teacher development or effective school leadership. Click here to access our NPQ facilitator application form.

Rosie Burns - NPQLTD 1a : designing & delivering CPD across the county

Rosie Burns, a Year 5 class teacher, Science Lead, and Upper Key Stage 2 Phase Leader at Histon & Impington Brook Primary School, and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Science Learning Partnership Primary Lead, recently completed the NPQ in Leading Teacher Development (NPQLTD). Here we speak to Rosie about her reasons for undertaking the programme, her experiences on it, and its impact on her practice.

Why did you sign up for the NPQ, and what were your original learning objectives?

“My role as a mentor for both trainee and early career teachers, and prior to beginning the NPQ as part of a pilot of the Early Career Framework (ECF), endorsed my interest in developing expertise in the complex area of teacher development. I was excited by the fresh approach of the NPQLTD, as it afforded in-depth consideration of the essential knowledge and skills required for successful leadership of teacher development whilst referring to the same evidence base as the ECF and other NPQs.

I felt that participation in the NPQLTD would provide the opportunity for me to hone my understanding of effective professional development whilst learning how to design, deliver, and implement a range of professional development approaches. I hoped to develop the skills and knowledge to become an inspiring and effective leader, promoting best practice and equipping my fellow teachers with expertise to make a positive impact on school practice and pupil outcomes. I also believed that participation in this programme would afford opportunities for me to progress my career whilst still focusing on in-class practice and my aim (as Science Lead) to encourage great teaching of primary science.

My objective was to contribute to sustained provision and implementation of high-quality professional development in my school (the designated Teaching School Hub for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough schools) and have a transformative impact on teaching and pupil experience across a wide network of schools. I also wanted to develop leadership skills to assist teachers when things do not go to plan and to productively manage more challenging situations to support them as individuals and within the wider school context.”

How have you applied the learning from the NPQLTD in your day-to-day activities, and what has been the impact on you/your school?

“At the beginning of this school year, about three quarters of the way through the course, I took on a new role as a member of the SLT, working as an Upper Key Stage 2 Phase Leader (Leader across Year 5). This has been an exciting opportunity and a challenging one. The NPQ provided a platform to work with people who were already well established on their leadership journey – to meet and regularly discuss ideas/challenges we were facing was one of the most valuable aspects of the course.

At the second NPQLTD conference, we had a workshop on ‘Emotion and Educational Leadership’. I found this really thought-provoking as I could easily relate to various scenarios that I had experienced, particularly in recent months whilst leading a team of teachers and teaching assistants. It was incredibly helpful to take a step back and consider how best to approach challenging conversations and support your team in feeling positive and valued.

In my new role as Science Learning Partnership (SLP) Primary Lead for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, I have made great use of the Designing and Delivering Effective Professional Development modules. The idea of triangulation when determining priorities has been important when considering CPD needs across the county but also more specifically within individual schools. Analysing data and getting feedback from teachers, in addition to looking at broader research carried out e.g. by the EEF or Ofsted Review Series, has helped ensure that the courses we provide are built upon robust evidence.

Utilising expertise was also widely discussed, and it has been a pleasure to book and work alongside a range of STEM facilitators whose expertise e.g., in Space or EYFS, enriches our CPD offer. Considering the needs of ‘expert’ v ‘novice’ teachers was also interesting and I enjoyed thinking about how different approaches of delivery could benefit groups of people at different stages in their careers and the reasons behind this.

More widely, all Meridian Trust primary schools have now signed up to an SLP subscription package, which has allowed them to participate in a range of CPD and local network meetings. This has encouraged a shared dialogue to build across our schools and for great science practice to be shared and celebrated. Ultimately, I hope the long-term impact of this will be a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards science (both pupils and staff) in addition to strong substantive and disciplinary knowledge acquisition.”

Would you recommend the NPQ to others and, if so, for what reasons?

“I would definitely recommend the NPQLTD if you have an interest in designing and delivering CPD and/or are keen to progress into leadership via a fresh approach. The opportunity to meet like-minded people, have rich discussions and access to high-quality learning materials was excellent. I found the flexibility of self-directed study essential – I could fit in online modules at times that suited the busy work life of a full-time class teacher.”

Click here for more information on the CPTSH NPQ in Leading Teacher Development.

Please get in touch with Rosie directly, via, to discuss the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Science Learning Partnership’s Primary CPD programme.

Steve Winter - NPQLL : championing literacy in science

Man sat on chair in front of science equipmentSteve Winter, Head of Physics at Comberton Village College, is currently completing a NPQ in Leading Literacy (NPQLL). We spoke to Steve about his unique motivation for signing up to this NPQ, his experiences so far, and long-term implementation goals.


Why did you decide the NPQLL was for you?

“I am definitely the odd one out, I must admit, as the vast majority of the NPQLL cohort are English/literacy leads or co-ordinators. However, I have a growing interest in literacy in science, and how pupils read and write in the subject. Over the recent years I have noticed it is getting harder for students to decode exam questions, and many seem to be really struggling, especially at A Level. So my motivation was around how we can improve outcomes for pupils in science by developing their literacy skills. That means developing reading, writing and language. Unfortunately, as a physicist, I am not a specialist in this area. I was originally going to sign up to the NPQ in Senior Leadership, and may well look to do that course next, but the more I read about the NPQLL the more I felt this would have the biggest impact on pupils and I thought ‘let’s give it a go’.”

You started the course in October, and are due to finish this summer. How is it going?

“It has been brilliant so far, and I have learned so much from the rest of the cohort. It has been a challenge incorporating the techniques from the course and embedding them in my science lessons, but I am making progress and beginning to see improvements in pupils’ literacy. Since starting the NPQ, my physics colleagues have shown an interest and are very keen on seeing what a literacy focused physics lesson looks like in practice, how to do it and so on, and as a scientist I am enjoying experimenting with this. Generally, the NPQLL cohort meets up around once a month, and whilst the Teach First materials are all really good, the face-to-face sessions are most valuable. The seminars often turn into Q&As and ‘show and tells’, with colleagues from primary and secondary phases having the opportunity to share ideas and experiences.”

How are you applying the learning in the classroom?

“A good example is a Year 7 lesson I recently took. Generally, this age group use OneNote for their physics lessons where they read online worksheets and fill in missing words in gap-fill activities. I am interested in how we can increase not only their tier 3 vocabulary but also their tier 2 vocabulary, and how to embed reading and writing tasks in the lesson. Ultimately the question is how we coach and embed literacy skills in all our lessons, and at this stage I don’t have an answer, unfortunately. In my last lesson I spent a good chunk of time introducing new science words, but also tier 2 words which would be in the text they would be using later on in the lesson. Good example of words that pupils had difficulty with were protostar and fuse as in fusion. Contextualising the words, and more importantly having the opportunity to discuss them in a lesson, really helped. However, it did affect the amount of content I could cover in this lesson, as introducing vocabulary, reading, writing and discussion take up time when you have got to get through set content every lesson.”

What does success look like for you from the NPQLL?

“For all science lessons to have a literacy focus – it should be there in every lesson – and for literacy to have an even greater profile within all departments. If we can improve reading and writing skills then pupils’ outcomes will improve, it’s a no-brainer. In my opinion, pupils seem to talk less these days, possibly because a lot of their social interactions are via mobile phones, so giving them the opportunity for high-quality discussion in lessons will really help them. Embedding literacy in all lessons will take a lot of strategic planning, and I believe to do this effectively a five-year plan would be required as it would involve major changes to our scheme of work. I would like other physicists to sign up to the course too. It will help their practice, and the more literacy champions we have in any school or department, the more likely literacy will be embedded. In fact, this goes beyond physics. If I had a magic wand, every teacher should be given an opportunity to benefit from a course like this.”

Would you recommend the NPQLL to others, and if so why?

“Definitely. It was a risk for me personally, but it has been fantastic. It has improved my own ability to teach fluency, and I just want to find out more and more as I am going along. The NPQLL is one of the most useful courses I have been part of in recent years.”

Click here for more information on the CPTSH NPQ in Leading Literacy.

Laura Hooper - NPQSL 2b : from NPQLBC to NPQSL

Head shot of a womanLaura Hooper, Raising Standards Leader Year 7 and Teacher of PE at Thomas Clarkson Academy, recently completed the NPQ in Leading Behaviour and Culture (NPQLBC) and has now enrolled on the NPQ in Senior Leadership (NPQSL). We caught up with Laura to hear about her experiences and the difference these NPQs are making to her personal and career development.


Why did you sign up for the NPQLBC initially?

“To develop as a middle leader, specifically with a focus on behaviour and culture. My original learning objectives/motivations were to ensure that, as a middle leader, I could gain expertise and drive meaningful change in behaviour and culture while supporting staff to create positive learning environments where all students can thrive. I was confident the NPQLBC encapsulated the areas of expertise that are fundamental to creating a school culture in which students can thrive and I wanted to develop my current knowledge and skills to support this.”

How were your learning objectives met, and what do you consider to be your most valuable experiences throughout the programme?

“Each module contributed to my objectives and surpassed the knowledge/learning outcomes I originally anticipated to gain. The most valuable experience for me was the opportunity to discuss and analyse each module in-depth with other professionals and have meaningful conversations about behaviour and culture, alongside the impact we have as middle/senior leaders. We were able to reflect on our own practice and evaluate ways in which we could further develop as leaders to have a greater positive impact.”

How have you applied the learning from the NPQLBC in your day-to-day job, and why did this inspire you to now take on the NPQSL?

“I continuously apply the learning from my NPQLBC and continue to be reflective in my day-to-day role to ensure that the decisions I am making have a positive impact on pupils and staff. For example, using feedback and a wider range of data to continuously refine and improve an approach. The NPQLBC inspired me to take on the NPQSL because of the developments I have made personally since completing the NPQLBC and I am confident that the NPQSL will allow me to continue developing as a leader.”

What have been the key benefits/impacts (or what do you expect these to be in the longer term) of completing both these NPQs?

“The NPQs have allowed me to be a positive impact-focused leader and make mindful considerations in all areas of my leadership. The programmes have ensured I can effectively evaluate current approaches to behaviour and culture and make informed decisions about changes that will support the wider areas of school.”

Would you recommend these NPQs to others?

“I would recommend the NPQLBC if you want to develop as a middle leader, with a focus on behaviour and culture. The NPQLBC supported my career aspirations and has supported my recent progression from a Head of House to a Raising Standards Leader. I have recently started my NPQSL, and the successful completion of my NPQLBC gave me the confidence to start my NPQSL. The NPQs have not only supported my personal career aspirations, but more importantly ensured that as a middle/senior leader I have the knowledge and expertise in my area to have a positive impact on schools, supporting all students to thrive and succeed.”

Further information:

NPQ in Leading Behaviour and Culture

NPQ in Senior Leadership

Colin Marks - NPQH 1b : Supporting with the demands of the job

Colin Marks photoColin Marks, Head teacher at Orton Wistow Primary School, is soon to undertake his final assessment on the NPQH. We spoke to him about the support the NPQH has offered him and why he is an advocate of the reformed NPQs.

Why did you sign up for NPQH initially and how have your learning objectives been met?

After being a Deputy Headteacher for thirteen years, I was ready for a new challenge and I had been looking for my first Headship for a while. The opportunity came up for me to complete the NPQH alongside a colleague in the Trust and after looking at the course content and structure, decided to go ahead. Having stepped up into the role of Headteacher in the absence of the employed Head at that time, on several occasions, I had been given the chance to learn a little more about the role and take on some additional responsibilities. The NPQH course with Teach First has really supported me at this time in my career to have a greater understanding of the role and prepare me for taking that next step. Whilst completing the course, I have been fortunate enough to take on the Headship in my existing school on a permanent basis. Going through the modules and having a chance to meet with others on the course regularly has helped me to cope with the demands of the job and learn from others. Every module has been worthwhile and it has been a good use of my time, helping me to grow in this new role. 

How have you applied the learning from the NPQH in your day-to-day job? Is there one piece of research that has really left its mark?

All the modules have been useful. As confident as I may have felt with any particular area, I have learned more about the role during each part of the course and it has helped me to reflect on my own practice and consider other ways of working. There are several parts of the course that have stood out for me but one of the most useful was module 10 - Implementation. We are going through a big change at my school with regard to how we support those with the highest level of need and the research and practical elements of this module have helped me to guide my way through this change, using an implementation plan and identifying the potential barriers to its success. The module focussed on SEND and my pre-arranged visit to another school to look at their practice (also part of the course) has also helped me see this plan through. The additional research and links to other schools' approaches have opened my eyes to other ways of working. I have now (alongside the SENCO) completed a thorough implementation plan and have made a strong start on this cultural shift in the school. We feel that we have considered all variables and tried to combat possible known barriers but we also feel confident about being flexible and adjusting our plan as necessary. 

As a headteacher, would you recommend the NPQs to your staff and others?

I completed the NPQSL course several years ago. This was not through Teach First and although some elements were useful, the course design and structure were not. Completing the NPQH with Teach First has been a completely different experience. The course design and website have been intuitive and easy to use. The regular face-to-face meetings after each module were great ways to embed some of the learning and those leading the course have been extremely knowledgeable, challenging (in a good way) and supportive. I would definitely recommend others to complete NPQs. I have just recently spoken with several members of my staff about which NPQs could be worthwhile for them.