Star Institute are partnering with New Schools Network (NSN) to offer NPQH courses tailored to the specific priorities, challenges and opportunities of leading free schools.

Our programme is an intensive and challenging experience based around excellence, critical reflection and quality school-based practice. This bespoke free school leadership programme will capture the innovative spirit of the free school movement, and will challenge leaders to deliver thoughtful, well-structured, change management programmes for schools and wider trusts. The course will be delivered by experienced free school leaders who have successfully navigated the obstacles of opening and running their schools.

This experience will be key to creating a bespoke programme, one which encompasses the unique challenges that face free school leaders, such as marketing a school before it has opened, working with developers and civil servants to acquire a site and growing a school and teaching body as pupil numbers increase. Our innovative curriculum and practical placements will equip you with the confidence, skills, professional knowledge and experience needed to stand out and make your mark.

The Department for Education has allocated a £10 million fund for scholarships for eligible candidates undertaking National Professional Qualifications in school leadership. Scholarships are for candidates in category 5 and 6 local authority districts, including Opportunity Areas like Blackpool, Oldham and Bradford, and other districts such as Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Knowsley, Salford, Pendle and Burnley. To find out if you’re eligible for a funded place, get in touch or check your school on the get information about schools website. The scholarships are available on a first come first served basis until the fund is exhausted.

Request an Application Form


Programme NPQH
Duration Eight days delivered over 10-12 months
Entry requirements Senior Leaders who are, or are aspiring to become, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school.
How to apply Request an application form.  Application deadline 11 September
Contact Contact us


The programme will take place in London and the deadline for applications is 11 September 2019.

To receive an application pack, please call 0330 313 9870 or email

Our Offer

  • Fully accredited National Professional Qualifications, tailored to the needs of your growing school(s).

  • Learn how to create the conditions for an innovative, successful and resilient school.

  • Modules delivered by highly skilled, experienced leaders – NLEs, SLEs, Ofsted inspectors and school improvement specialists.

  • Reflect on and develop your own leadership to have a greater impact.

  • Build a personal network of free school leaders around the country.

  • Free coaching from outstanding headteachers and CEOs.

  • Opportunity to undertake mini placements to shadow successful leadership teams.


Programme structure

The NPQH forms a 12 month programme of study which includes eight full day face to face workshops across the year, including dedicated support to prepare for the Final Assessment tasks.

All modules are led by experienced Headteachers. Face-to-face events are supplemented by workplace learning, reading, reflections and online learning.

We also provide expert coaching from serving practitioners. During this coaching, you will not only receive support and challenge from a credible leader, you will also learn vital coaching skills to utilise once you take up your first headship.

Each module includes 30 hours of learning:

Type of study NPQH (number of hours)
Face to face sessions 6
Workplace learning 18
Online learning/conferences 4
Reflective activity 2
The six NPQH study modules, based on the DfE’s NPQH Content and Assessment Framework,  set out what a leader should know and be able to do.  Modules focus on improving leadership practice and support the development of the critical leadership behaviours of commitment, collaboration, personal drive, resilience, awareness, integrity and respect; behaviours which exemplify how the best leaders operate.

Our programme is designed by combining our experience of securing outstanding school leadership with cutting edge research and leadership theory. The programme is practical and provides highly applicable learning experiences to ensure you become the best leader you can be.

NPQH is for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a Headteacher or Head of School with responsibility for leading a school.  This includes those who are, or are aspiring to be, a Headteacher or head of school with cross-school responsibilities such as a National Leader of Education (NLE).

The final assessment for NPQH involves completing two tasks:

  • A whole-school change programme in your own school over at least two term
  • A placement lasting at least nine days in a contrasting school with the focus of designing an action plan to meet the placement school’s resourcing and capability needs

You will submit a 4,000 word write up of task 1 and 2,500 for task 2 once you have completed your face to face training. These will be assessed against the DfE assessment criteria.

Star Institute’s NPQH programme is designed around the six areas in the DfE’s Content and Assessment Framework. As such, each session you attend on the programme directly supports you to prepare for and successfully complete your final assessment.

Throughout the programme you will be encouraged to consider the final assessment and regularly reflect on what you have learnt, how you have planned and implemented your improvement project, ensuring you are well prepared for completing the write up for the final assessment.

Star Institute are also the assessment body for your NPQH, we have designed the process to be easily understandable and to support you to be successful in the qualification.

We are pleased to confirm you can gain masters credits through your Star NPQ programme with the University of Chester and work towards an MA in Educational Leadership.

You can achieve 100 credits accredited prior learning from the NPQH and the balance of the 180 credits required for an MA are made up from 20 credit modules plus the 60 credit dissertation.  For example: NPQH (100 credits) one 20 credit module and one dissertation = 180 credits

Each taught module is delivered over two Saturdays completing one module per term. The length of the programme is 12-18months with NPQH.

The philosophy of the course with University of Chester is learning links to professional practice, theories of leadership and work-based enquiry for improvement. Most importantly, it acknowledges work undertaken in the workplace.

Costs For 2018/19
£555 per 20 credit module
£220 per 20 credits of APL (Accreditation of Prior Learning) including support and assessment

Click here for further information.

Star Institute is committed to the professional and personal development of the school workforce and to making a significant contribution to a self-improving school system.  At Star, we want to play our part in developing the next generation of teachers, managers and leaders in our own schools and throughout the school system.

The Institute is approved to deliver the DfE National Professional Leadership Qualifications and is an accredited provider of Initial Teacher Training. Star Institute also plays an active role in leading and co-ordinating school-to-school support and promoting partnership working.

The Institute has a national focus and operates through its associate campuses and National Teaching Schools in towns and cities across the North, Midlands and South.

Star Institute is led by experienced school leaders who have exemplary records in driving successful school improvement and improving outcomes for their students.  Our highly practical training and support programmes are available to all schools and academies, to other Multi-Academy Trusts and to Local Authorities.

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The programme will take place in London and the deadline for applications is 11 September 2019.

Request an Application Form


Star Institute is a Department for Education accredited provider of the NPQML, NPQSL, NPQH and NPQEL.

Strong leadership is at the absolute heart of any school’s success – no school can thrive with weak leaders. Participants on the programmes will have the opportunity to learn from established free school leaders who can share their own experience, as well as network with peers in the same situation.

We want to make sure that innovation is once more a driving force in the free school movement, and that leaders are given all the tools they need to deliver the distinctive vision of their school. This is a real opportunity to learn from the best of the best, and leadership skills to be taken to the next level.

Luke Tryl, Director, New Schools Network

Through my own Trust, I have seen the impact free school leaders have in the communities they serve. I am a strong believer in the power of outstanding education to transform lives and free schools have done just that for thousands of children across the country.

But running a free school is challenging. Taking an initial vision to provide outstanding education through barriers like finding a site, marketing a school that isn’t open yet and recruiting an entirely new staff body is a learning curve for even the most experienced teachers and school leaders.

That’s why Star Institute is partnering with New Schools Network, to share our experiences and play an active role in the self-improving school system, ensuring the ongoing success of free schools way beyond opening. These programmes will be led by experienced leaders who have exemplary track records in driving school improvement and we look forward to welcoming many cohorts to the programmes, who I hope in turn will one day share their unique experiences with others

Mufti Hamid Patel, CBE, Chief Executive, Star Academies

NPQH is an outstanding leadership programme, the content is so detailed that everyone can take something from it an the opportunity to network with other like-minded professionals is priceless.  I have since taken up a new post as a head following the programme and have been able to hit the ground running due to my learning from the programme.

New Headteacher, Bolton