The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) is our flagship qualification designed to develop the next generation of system leaders with the skills and capabilities to lead across a number of schools.

Executive Headteachers (including CEOs of small MATs) play an increasingly important strategic role in the school leadership landscape. Their role is crucial to the effectiveness of multi-school groupings and the outcomes of the children they serve.

Executive Headship requires a new and different mix of skills and experience to traditional Headship. Executive Headteachers must work within a complex variety of contexts and governance and accountability structures. The role requires higher levels of strategic thinking; greater emphasis on coaching, delegating and achieving change through others; consistency and collaboration across and between schools; and a strong capacity to look outward.

Our NPQEL is a personalised leadership experience that is tailored to your unique leadership goals and challenges. You will emerge from our programme with the cross-functional skills and strategic vision to drive change, innovation and improvement across multiple settings.


Programme NPQEL
Duration Eight days delivered over 10-12 months
Entry requirements Those Headteachers who are, or are aspiring to become, an Executive Headteacher or CEO of a small MAT with responsibility for leading several schools.
How to apply Request an application pack today
Contact Email us


The DfE have not yet confirmed funding availability, therefore DfE funding for upcoming cohorts is not available at this time.

We are currently recruiting nationwide for a cohort to start online in 21st October 2020, 4pm – 6:30pm (see information regarding adjustments made due to COVID-19*).

The current application round will close on Monday 12th October.

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

Request an Application Form

Our Offer

  • World class people – support and input from MAT CEOs, Executive Headteachers, Directors of Education, policy experts, CEOs/national leaders from industry
  • Deep leadership learning – 8 face-to-face executive training days, rooted in a dynamic, rigorous and research informed curriculum for a changing educational landscape
  • Specialist business insight – high quality input from leading experts aimed at developing advanced executive leadership skills, including business strategy development, budgeting, advocacy, negotiation skills, fundraising, education technology and community engagement
  • Coaching for leadership – coaching to support the development of highly effective leadership behaviours
  • Thought leadership – a free place at the Star Festival of Education; our annual school conference that brings together the very best of education’s thought leaders, practitioners of change and policy makers


Programme structure

The NPQEL 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 national education and industry leaders. Face-to-face events are supplemented by workplace learning, reading, reflections and online learning.

The programmes provides a transformational executive development experience.  You will work with accomplished peers, industry thought leaders and world class professionals.

We also provide expert coaching. During this coaching, you will not only receive support and challenge from a credible leader, you will also learn the vital coaching skills required for people management in multiple settings.

Each module includes 30 hours of learning:

Type of study NPQEL (number of hours)
Face to face sessions 6
Workplace learning 18
Online learning/conferences 4
Reflective activity 2

The six NPQEL study modules, based on the DfE’s NPQEL 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.

The final assessment for NPQEL involves completing two tasks:

  • Designing a sustainable business development strategy for your organisation
  • Leading an improvement project across several (at least two) schools

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

Star Institute’s NPQEL 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 NPQEL, 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 NPQEL 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: NPQEL (100 credits) one 20 credit module and one dissertation = 180 credits

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