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School Development Service

Leadership and Management


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Professional Qualification for Headship - PQH(NI)

PQH Update

As part of its action to implement the Department of Education’s Strategy for Teacher Professional Learning ( the ‘Learning Leaders’ Strategy), the Education Authority  is working with partners to develop a new ‘School Leadership Development Framework’. This framework will include provision for:

  • Serving Principals
  • Those who aspire to become Principals in the near future and can demonstrate capacity to undertake this role
  • Senior leaders, including Vice Principals
  • Middle leaders, including Heads of Department and Co-ordinators
  • Experienced Principals who are exercising a ‘system leadership’ role beyond their own school.

In the context of this on-going review and development activity, no further cohorts will be recruited to the PQH programme in its current format.
Given that there is currently a pool of qualified aspiring school leaders who have successfully completed the PQH course over recent years and have not yet been appointed to a post of principal, there is no immediate demonstrable need to provide a programme to train additional candidates for headship. It is anticipated that, arising from the new  ‘School Leadership Development Framework’, a revised programme will be provided for those who aspire to become Principals.

Posted : 08 May 2018


PQH (NI) is an accredited course for those aspiring to headship which is recognised as being equivalent to NPQH in England and has equal status with Welsh NPQH and Scottish Qualification for Headship.

The qualification has been redesigned to reflect the changing role of headship and of school leadership and to meet the needs of those whose leadership experience and expertise places them within a touching distance of headship.

PQH (NI) prepares aspiring headteachers for 21st century strategic leadership and management challenges in Northern Ireland schools.

PQH (NI) was first introduced in 1999 following steering and working group deliberations - involving all stakeholders and a formal consultation process conducted by the Department of Education which elicited unanimous support for the proposed model. A qualification to prepare teachers for headship, the model for PQH (NI) is a licensed adaptation of the National Qualification for Headship in England and reflects Northern Ireland's varying circumstances which include:-

The Regional Training Unit is the designated Lead Body and Awarding Body for PQH (NI).

Benefits for Aspiring Headteachers

NPQH materials have been contextualised by teams of professionals for use in Northern Ireland. The programme is founded on the National Standards for Headteachers. Through personalised provision designed to meet the individual needs of each ‘trainee headteacher’, the programme will give you the confidence, skills and professional knowledge to deliver the best for pupils and all members of the school community in your first headship post.

The National Standards

The National Standards for Headteachers, which define the knowledge, professional qualities and actions required for effective school headship within six key areas; have been contextualised for Northern Ireland to reflect the distinctive aspects of our schooling system. Download - the National Standards for Headteachers (NI)