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NPQ lead provider pulls out of scaled-back scheme

One of the government’s lead providers of national professional qualifications (NPQs) has said it will drop out of the scheme after it was significantly scaled back.

The Education Development Trust reached the “regrettable conclusion” after the Department for Education announced its offer of free NPQs for all schools will be replaced by a less generous scheme from Autumn. 

The department offered £184 million for schools to do NPQs for free as part of its Covid recovery plan.

But from Autumn, only teachers and leaders in the top half of schools with the most youngsters on pupil premium will be eligible for funded NPQs.

EDT will not bid to deliver NPQs for the Autumn 2024 and Spring 2025 cohorts.

‘Regrettable conclusion’ to pull out

It was one of nine organisations named by the DfE as lead providers of NPQs in 2021.

An EDT spokesperson said “after a great deal of deliberation, we have come to the regrettable conclusion that we will not bid to deliver the 2024-25 NPQ cohorts. 

“Our priority is to ensure our current cohorts are fully supported right up until the end of their programmes, ensuring that we deliver the very best quality in terms of content, learner experience and participant support.

“We are equally committed to ensuring our NPQ delivery partners are fully supported.”

Ofsted rated it as ‘good’ for its work in this area in a report published last month. Inspectors found “knowledgeable facilitators skilfully deliver training that is rooted in pertinent research” and staff were “proud” to take part.

In February, EDT had 3,110 NPQ participants, working with 18 delivery partners including teacher school hubs and academy trusts.

Its partners are “responsible for the recruitment, selection, and quality assurance of key individuals (facilitators) to provide both face-to-face and virtual training” to teachers and school leaders undertaking the NPQs, EDT’s website states.

‘Important to avoid cold spots’

Natalie Dixon, executive Director for ECF and NPQ Programmes at Ambition Institute, another lead provider, said: “The most important thing now is to ensure there are no cold spots of NPQ provision next year.

“As a sector, we need to make sure that participants in all parts of the country have access to the NPQs they want to take… All the providers need to work collaboratively to support teachers and school leaders across the country.”

EDT worked with 18 delivery partners, including seven teaching school hubs, five learning federations, one children’s centre, three multi-academy trusts and two specialist subject associations, the watchdog noted.

One of EDT’s delivery partners, Ormiston Academies Trust, said it is currently wrapping up procurement process to appoint a new lead provider. 

“There are a number of strong providers in the market and we are concluding a procurement process to appoint an NPQ and ECF provider for the 2024-25 academic year,” a spokesperson added.

Aspiration Academies Trust said its lead provider has always been LLSE, but they partnered with EDT for some delivery of NPQLL. 

“Whilst we are disappointed, though not surprised, at the DfE decision to scale back the free NPQ programme, Aspirations Academies Trust remains committed to providing high quality training for teachers pursuing leadership opportunities,” a spokesperson said. 

“Aspirations Learning Institute will continue to deliver NPQ qualifications in partnership with our lead provider, LLSE, for those still eligible for funding as well as to internal staff and external participants who will not now be eligible.”

Under the new scheme, NPQs for heads, SENCOs and leading primary maths will be available for free to all schools. 

However others will be only for schools with the most disadvantaged cohorts. Schools Week, which first revealed the funded scheme was being scaled back, also understands free places will be capped at just 10,000 places.

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