"Women tend to be more hesitant about putting themselves forward for promotion. If we can use the NPQH as a tool to encourage them to have a go, then they will discover that they do have the ability to succeed," Professor Clive Booth told the House of Commons select committee on education.
Although they account for more than 60 per cent of teachers, less than half of Britain's headteachers are women. The TTA was aiming the new qualification at women by focusing on role models such as the recently honoured Hampstead headteacher Dame Tamsyn Imison and Dame Pat Collarbone, a former head who is now director of the London Leadership Centre.
Nearly 1,900 (56 per cent) of the 3,390 candidates already registered for needs assessment for NPQH are female, two-thirds of them from the primary sector.
The new qualification should also emphasise the monitoring of teaching standards and student progress, rather than pedagogical practice, Professor Booth told the committee. He said it was "a key weakness at the moment".