Opportunity area schools urged to act quickly on NPQ scholarship funding

As we reported in October, teachers and leaders in government designated ‘opportunity areas’ could have the full costs of their national leadership qualifications paid for.

The Department for Education has launched a £10 million scholarship fund for school leadership development in areas with the lowest rates of social mobility in England, which includes the 12 ‘opportunity areas’. The funding will be eligible to fund participants taking National Professional Qualifications for Middle Leadership, Senior Leadership, Headship or Executive Leadership.

Outstanding Leaders Partnership, in partnership with Best Practice Network, is one of the few approved licencees able to deliver the qualifications nationally. Tarun Kapur, CEO of OLP lead school The Dean Trust multi-academy trust, said: “This opportunity for scholarships will help schools in opportunity areas secure, retain and develop more excellent teachers and leaders, who are making a difference to the prospects of children in these schools. Knowing how hard teachers work, OLP has adopted a flexible learning approach, with local face to face days plus online materials, and we support our participants with care throughout the programmes. The new funding is excellent news as the full costs of the courses are covered, although we understand that this is on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Opportunity areas were created by the government in autumn 2016 and are defined as having the greatest need and the lowest rates of social mobility in England.

Category 5 and 6 areas - groups of local authorities where children are making the least progress and have the poorest access to high-quality schools - can also access the new funding.

There are currently 12 opportunity areas: West Somerset, Norwich, Blackpool, North Yorkshire Coast, Derby, Oldham, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Bradford, Stoke on Trent, Doncaster and Ipswich. A full list of Category 5 and 6 LA areas is available here.

The government is now finalising the criteria for applications to the scheme but has confirmed that funding will be released for participants who:

  • are working in a school in an Opportunity Area (OA) or a Category 5 or 6 area
  • do not already hold the NPQ for which they are applying
  • have not previously dropped out of the NPQ for which they are applying

The government says that further criteria will be considered if the scheme is oversubscribed, but the funding will be payable in each of the financial years 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020.

To apply for one of the National Professional Qualifications visit the relevant qualification webpage.

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