National Professional
Qualification for

The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) remains the first choice qualification for anyone aspiring to be a Headteacher or Principal. If you have ambitions to run your own school, then completing your NPQH with Star Institute will make sure you’re heading in the right direction.

Our programme is an intensive and challenging experience based around excellence, critical reflection and quality school-based practice. We will ensure you become a highly skilled, well-developed leader who is ready to make the transition to headship and hit the ground running.

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, please 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.

Our Offer

  • High levels of personalisation and progression – an individual leadership plan allowing you to work systematically towards the National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers
  • Immersion in good or outstanding schools – opportunity to undertake leadership placements in some of the best schools in the country
  • World class people – support from expert and leading practitioners, including NLEs, LLEs and former Ofsted Inspectors
  • High quality leadership learning – 8 face-to-face executive training days, rooted in the latest research and cutting edge professional practice
  • 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

  • Career pathway planning – dedicated time to prepare for Final Assessment, free headteacher application appraisal and membership of the Star Alumni

Who is the Programme for?

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).

What’s Involved?

To achieve the NPQH qualification you’ll need to successfully:

  • Complete 6 study modules
  • Undertake 2 final assessment tasks

The Study Modules

The six NPQH study modules 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 six study modules you must complete are:

Learn how to: Learn about:
Anticipate changes in the external and strategic environment Horizon-scanning and drivers of political, social, economic, technological, legal and environmental change
Develop an evidence-based organisational strategy, in collaboration with the governing board Critical thinking, statistical and data analysis tools, techniques and concepts that support decision-making and strategy development
Data collection best practice
The role of the governing board in strategy development, including the benefits of working with a visionary and robust governing board
Lead a successful whole-school change programme Research into, and examples of, the effective leadership of change, drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts

Learn how to: Learn about:
Lead and grow excellent teaching in a school Research into, and examples of, the leadership of excellent teaching, domestically and internationally
The benefits of involvement in Initial Teacher Training in terms of teaching quality
Statutory curriculum requirements and examples of how freedoms have been used to improve pupil progress and attainment
The benefits, characteristics and examples of knowledge-rich curricula
Tools and techniques to improve teaching quality across several schools
Support pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and particular needs in the school to achieve high standards, including Pupil Premium, SEND, EAL or the most able pupils Research into, and examples of, whole-school improvement strategies in relation to progress, attainment and behaviour, drawn from a range of schools, including interventions targeted at disadvantaged pupils or those with particular needs
The implications of the Equality Act 2010 for all pupils
The requirements on schools to publish a SEN Information Report
Best practice in planning, commissioning and monitoring Alternative Provision
Systematically review the cumulative impact of initiatives on teacher workload and make proportionate and pragmatic demands on staff Tools to assess and manage the impact of new policies or initiatives

Learn how to: Learn about:
Distribute responsibility and accountability throughout the school to improve performance Research into the effectiveness of different leadership models or styles, including the distribution of responsibility and accountability
Be an inspiring leader in a range of different situations Examples of how different leadership models or styles have been deployed to achieve different objectives, drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts
Communicate and negotiate with different people effectively to make progress on objectives Tools and techniques for gathering and analysing the perspectives, priorities and motivations of stakeholders
Research into negotiation and persuasion techniques/strategies
Examples of communications/stakeholder engagement strategies, including the use of media, drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts

Learn how to: Learn about:
Use different models of partnership working to improve educational provision, sustain a culture of mutual challenge and learn from others Different models of partnership working/ collaboration and why these have been adopted in different circumstances drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts
Guidance and examples of best practice in the joint commissioning of services
Lead an effective partnership which brings benefits to the school and wider education system, particularly in their school’s area(s) of expertise or specialism Opportunities to support other schools

Learn how to: Learn about:
Balance a school’s strategic or educational priorities with financial efficiency Strategic financial planning techniques, including curriculum-led budgeting based on a 3-5 year strategy
Examples of how a range of schools and other organisations have generated additional income
Implement accountability arrangements to manage resources and risks effectively and in line with statutory requirements The benefits of strong accountability, including the importance of non-executive oversight
Examples of resource and risk management arrangements drawn from a range of schools, including internal controls
The requirements of the financial accountability framework, as set out in the Academies Financial Handbook
A school’s statutory requirements in relation to risk assessment, employment, procurement and safeguarding (including the Prevent Duty), and underpinning processes

Learn how to: Learn about:
Hold all staff to account for performance using performance management, appraisal, misconduct and grievance systems Employment law, practice and processes for managing misconduct, grievances and redundancy (including the Teacher Appraisal Regulations)
Statutory requirements, flexibilities and supporting guidance on setting teachers’ pay and conditions
Create and sustain an environment where all staff are encouraged to develop their own knowledge and skills, and support each other Sources of high-quality professional development within and outside of the school,  beyond formal professional development programmes
The main barriers to effective professional development in a school and how these have been overcome
Anticipate capability requirements or gaps in the school and design strategies to fill them Workforce and capability planning tools and techniques, drawn from a range of schools
Research into, and examples of, effective succession planning, drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts

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


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

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In order to gain the qualification, you must successfully complete the NPQH final assessment; a series of tasks designed to judge whether you are ready to take up your first headship.

The final assessment comprises 2 tasks:

  • Leading and evidencing a change programme at whole school level, lasting 2 terms, to improve pupil progress and attainment
  • Undertaking a placement in a contrasting school and developing a plan to address the school’s resourcing and capability needs


12 months.


Star Institute NPQH currently runs in:

  • Lancashire (Blackburn, Blackpool, Preston)
  • Greater Manchester (Bolton, Manchester)
  • Bradford
  • Birmingham
  • London




Application deadlines for each region are shown below, to receive an application pack, please call 0330 313 9870 or email

Bradford – 28 January 2019

Birmingham – 28 January 2019

North West  – 28 January 2019

Key Information

Programme NPQH
Duration 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 Applications are made direct to Star Institute


“The whole course provided by Star Institute really focusses your mind and offers you clear insight and direction into becoming a headteacher – so much so, that after only 8 months on the course I was encouraged to go for a Headship post by my coach. I secured an interview, and used a lot of ideas and guidance from the Star Institute modules throughout my 2-day interview and presentation process. I’m pleased to say that I have now accepted my first headteacher post, from my very first application and interview! I know I would not have even got past the application stage or even applied for the post, had it not been for my coach, placement school head teacher and all the fantastic advice, guidance and clarity of thought, provided by the Star programme for the NPQH: a true testament to the quality of training I have received in a short space of time.”
Stuart McCartney, Newton Primary School, Chester
“The organisation and delivery of the NPQH has been excellent. The facilitators have been very informative and willing to share real life experience from their own headships. The course materials have also been excellent and useful tools to support planning and preparation.”
Mohammad Sajjid Sarwar, Marlborough Junior School, Birmingham
“The course facilitators were very adept at placing the theory being delivered into practical, real-life situations. They effectively used their own school leadership experiences to ensure we understood that what we were learning could benefit us within our school.”
Robert Downey, The Grange Secondary School, Runcorn