Our heritage

Learn more about the history of the NCTJ, and how it has developed since its establishment in 1951.

The NCTJ was established in 1951 to deliver the newspaper industry’s training scheme, following the findings of a Royal Commission on the Press.

Seventy years on, the NCTJ serves all media, and is dedicated to providing world-class training that equips journalists with the skills needed in a fast-changing multimedia industry, at all stages of their careers.

The last decade has been a time of extraordinary change when the NCTJ has broadened its knowledge base, moving far beyond its traditional skillset of press journalists to incorporate multimedia, digital and data-driven journalism.
Joanne Butcher, chief executive, NCTJ

The NCTJ over the years

Learn about the NCTJ's history, and how it has developed over the years.


The NCTJ was founded

The NCTJ was established to run the newspaper industry's training scheme, following the findings of a Royal Commission on the Press. In the early days, indentured trainees studied at colleges of further education and were examined in the General Proficiency Test.


Block release courses introduced

From 1965, ‘block release’ courses were introduced and an experimental ‘pre-entry’ course was run. Year-long pre-entry courses were developed further, followed by 18 and 20-week fast-track postgraduate courses and the accreditation of journalism postgraduate degree courses. The old ‘Prof Test’ was modernised and became the National Certificate Examination (NCE).


Teeline shorthand recommended to the NCTJ

In November 1968, NCTJ shorthand consultant Harry Butler wrote: "“We have on our hands a shorthand breakthrough which should solve longstanding shorthand problems. I have never known a shorthand system that can produce such good results in so short a time.”



The NCTJ went through challenging times in the late 1980s and 1990s when some newspaper groups withdrew from the NCTJ to set up their own training schemes or chose to transfer to the National Vocational Qualifications, which at the time attracted public funding.


Development and growth

Since 2003, the NCTJ developed its operations, structure and governance including a professional awarding body function, Student Council, focus groups and forums. Now a charity, it has an influential board of trustees and directors.


Journalism Diversity Fund launched

The Journalism Diversity Fund was launched to wide acclaim and is administered by the NCTJ. Thanks to the financial support of the industry, more than 440 bursaries have been awarded to date.


Oxdown retired

It was decided that the fictional newspaper, the Oxdown Gazette, which was used by the NCTJ since the 1970s as a setting for its journalism exam papers, would no longer be used. This would allow the NCTJ to use a wider range of scenarios to test a broader range of skills.


Major changes

At this time, major changes to NCTJ qualifications were made and the newspaper industry united in its support for the training body. The National Vocational Qualification training scheme run by some newspaper companies was merged with the NCE in 2007.


Leveson inquiry

The Leveson inquiry was launched into the culture and practices of the British press following the News International phone hacking scandal. Taking swift action at the time of the inquiry, the NCTJ introduced the compulsory ethics and regulation module into the Diploma in Journalism qualification.


NQJ launched

Following an extensive review, the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) was launched, replacing the NCE as the senior qualification for reporters.

April 2015

Junior journalist apprenticeship approved

The apprenticeship standard for junior journalists developed by a trailblazer group of employers, was approved by government.

November 2016

First online exams sat

The first online exams were sat by Diploma in Journalism students, using the online exam portal Cirrus, as the NCTJ began to transition away from paper-based assessments.


NCTJ wins e-assessment award

The essential journalism exam, which was introduced on the online Cirrus assessment platform, was recognised at the inaugural International e-Assessment Awards, winning the category for best use of summative assessment.


NCTJ introduces international journalism qualification

The NCTJ developed a new qualification in international journalism, covering the core elements of being a practical journalist operating in an international arena.


Community News Project launched

The NCTJ partnered with Facebook and local news publishers to create new community reporter roles in newsrooms around underserved areas in England, Scotland and Wales. The scheme supports community reporters to achieve the Diploma in Journalism or the NQJ.

May 2020

Remote exams introduced

The option of sitting exams remotely, using cutting-edge proctoring platform Proctorio, was introduced to students in a move to innovate and adapt amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

August 2020

Senior apprenticeship launched

The apprenticeship standard for a senior journalist was launched, with candidates completing the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ).

October 2020

Journalism Skills Academy launched

The NCTJ launched the Journalism Skills Academy (JSA) with the support from the Google News Initiative. The e-learning platform offers journalists a one-stop-shop for developing their skills.

July 2021

NCTJ obtains Teeline copyright

The NCTJ takes over copyright of Teeline shorthand from the Teeline Royalties Partnership, removing licence fees and making it available for the public benefit.

July 2021

Journalism Diversity Fund honoured

The Journalism Diversity Fund was honoured with a special award for diversity and inclusion from the Press Awards

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