A qualification which became mandatory on 1 April 2004 for all new head teachers in local authority schools. The qualification is delivered under the aegis of the National College for School Leadership, and was first introduced by the Department for Education and Employment in 1997. Its focus is on school improvement, and it is also open to senior teachers and those aspiring to a headship position. Initially, the regulations governing the mandatory status of the qualification allowed for newly appointed head teachers to be ‘working towards’ their NPQH, but from 1 April 2009 successful completion of the qualification is a requirement of appointment. See also headship development.