National Professional
Qualification for
Middle Leadership

Middle leaders hold a unique and critical position within the school. In all schools, middle leaders are close to teaching and learning and responsible for translating the school’s policies and strategies into practice. They are, in fact, critical to successful school improvement.

The National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) is a qualification aimed at those in their first years of middle leadership and those hoping to move into a middle leadership position. The programme tackles issues surrounding leading a team within an organisation. On completion of our NPQML, you will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and confidence to drive your team forward.

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.

NPQML Application Form


NPQML is for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a middle leader with responsibility for leading a team such as a key stage leader, a curriculum area leader, a pastoral services leader, a subject leader, a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), or a head of department/faculty.

This includes those who are, or are aspiring to be, a middle leader with cross-school responsibilities e.g. a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE).


To achieve the NPQML qualification, you’ll need to successfully complete:

  • Complete 6 study modules
  • Undertake a final assessment


The six NPQML 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:
Manage and analyse performance data to evaluate progress, identify trends, define team priorities and develop improvement strategies Tools and techniques to manage and analyse performance data on progress and attainment at group and individual level
Statistical and data analysis concepts
Implement successful change at team level Tools and techniques that support change management
Examples of successful change management drawn from a range of schools
Learn how to: Learn about:
Grow excellent, evidence-based teaching in a team and a curriculum that develops pupils academically and prepares them for adult life Research into, and examples of, domestic and international teaching strategies and pedagogical approaches with a proven impact
Research into, and examples of, different models of pupil assessment
The Ofsted School inspection handbook, particularly in relation to lesson planning, marking, feedback and collection of pupil performance data
The benefits, characteristics and examples of knowledge-rich curricula
Improve the progress, attainment and behaviour of all pupils, including those who are disadvantaged or have particular needs Research into, and examples of, interventions targeted at improving the progress/attainment of disadvantaged groups or those with particular needs
Research into, and examples of, the use of specialist provision for pupils with particular needs, drawn from a range of schools
The graduated approach to supporting SEND pupils, as set out in the SEND Code of Practice
Learn how to: Learn about:
Anticipate other peoples’ views or feelings and moderate your approach accordingly Personal reflection and self-awareness tools
Adopt different leadership styles to ensure the team meets its objectives Research into, and examples of, different leadership styles, including their associated benefits and risks
Present, communicate or defend challenging messages confidently and positively to a range of audiences A range of written and verbal communication and presentation styles, including why these have been adopted in different situations
Learn how to: Learn about:
Realise the benefits of collaborating with others, including teachers, teaching assistants and non-teaching staff, other schools, parents/carers and other organisations Research into, and examples of, effective partnership working, drawn from a range of schools, including the evidence base on effective parental engagement
Research into, and examples of, the main barriers to effective collaboration within and across schools and how these have been overcome
Support the team to build and sustain relationships with others which develop and share good practice and improve performance Research into, and examples of, structures and processes that support collaboration
Learn how to: Learn about:
Deploy staff, financial and educational resources within a team efficiently, to enhance pupil progress and attainment Resource and project management tools and techniques, including budgeting, forecasting and project plans
Manage risks within a team effectively, using a risk register Best practice in relation to managing risks, including the establishment and maintenance of risk registers, drawn from a range of schools
Deliver a safe environment for pupils and staff Key legal requirements and statutory guidance in relation to safeguarding and health and safety in schools
Learn how to: Learn about:
Hold others to account, line manage and evaluate performance effectively A range of performance management techniques, including setting SMART objectives, collecting and giving feedback, coaching/mentoring, and professional development plans
The Teachers’ Standards and Teacher appraisal regulations
Support all members of the team with appropriate, targeted opportunities for professional development, including newly-qualified teachers, teaching assistants, and stronger or weaker performers The Standard for teachers’ professional development and supporting guidance
Professional development opportunities within and beyond the school
Recognise own strengths and weaknesses and identify learning linked to needs Tools to identify own and staff development needs
Evaluate the impact of professional development on teacher development and pupils outcomes Tools to evaluate the impact and cost-effectiveness of professional development activities, particularly in terms of pupil outcomes

As part of our commitment to build the research and development capacity in the school workforce, we also provide access to an optional Research Methods course. This short course provides an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods and to the types of skills necessary for the planning, data gathering and dissemination stages of education-related research.


We know that having the opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners and share your experiences with peers is an important part of your learning. That’s why we offer 6 face-to-face leadership learning days.

Within these sessions, we build in dedicated time to support your preparation for Final Assessment. The face-to-face events are supplemented by workplace learning, reading, reflections and online learning.

Each module includes 30 hours of learning:

Type of study NPQML (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 40 credits accredited prior learning from the NPQML 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:  NPQML (40 credits) four 20 credit modules and one dissertation  = 180 credits

Each taught module is delivered over two Saturdays completing one module per term. The length of the programme is two years with NPQML.

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

Get Further Information
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In order to gain the qualification, you must successfully complete the NPQML Final Assessment; a task designed to demonstrate your ability to be an effective middle leader.

You must lead an improvement project in your team, lasting at least two terms, aimed at improving pupil progress and attainment and the capability of your team.


Star Development Centres currently offering the NPQML:

Location Star Provider Contact Information More Information
Cheshire East
Knutsford Knutsford Academy
01565 633294
Open for applications
Cheshire West and Chester
Tattenhall Cheshire LTA Carole Farrell
01829 751343
Open for applications
Greater Manchester
Bolton Ladywood Teaching School Alliance Kath Kay
01204 333400
Open for applications
Manchester Camberwell Park Specialist Support School Mary Isherwood
0161 682 7537
Open for applications
Manchester Manchester Federation of EBSD Schools Alan Braven
0161 234 5670
Open for applications
Salford and North East Ellesmere Park High School Heather Aaron
0161 789 4565
Open for applications
Stalybridge TBC TBC TBC
Wigan Hope School and College Sue Lucas
01942 824150
Open for applications
Accrington East Lancashire Teaching School Alliance Louise Stubbs
01254 233500
 Open for applications
Blackburn Star Institute Jen Frankish
0330 313 9816
Open for applications
Blackpool Fylde Coast Teaching School Alliance Tim Freeman
07715 552990
Open for applications
Colne Colne Park High School Katie Atherton
01282 865200
Open for applications
Lancaster Central Lancaster High School Nicola Hall
01524 32636
Open for applications
Preston Red Rose Teaching School Alliance Adrian Gormally
01772 326931
Open for applications
Mossley Hill Dovedale Primary School Jo Jones
0151 7334232
Open for applications
West Midlands
Birmingham TBC TBC TBC
Hereford TBC TBC TBC
Newport Burton Borough School Christine Raymont-Hall
01952 386500
Open for applications
Wolverhampton TBC TBC TBC
West Yorkshire
Bradford TBC TBC TBC




Our courses usually to run in September and March.

Applications will open soon. To register your interest, please call 0330 3139870, email or complete our enquiry form.

NPQML Application Form


Programme NPQML
Duration 12 months
Entry requirements Aspiring or current Middle Leaders
How to apply Applications are made directly to your preferred Star Development Centre
Contact or email a Star Development Centre directly.


“With the demands of teaching and the fast pace of school life, you are rarely afforded the opportunity to stop and think about leadership as an art, but the NPQML is a fantastic way of getting to grips with the many facets and faces of successful leadership. The course helped to enhance my knowledge of what makes a good leader and a strong team, and also provided an insight into how to deal with the variety of challenges you encounter along the way.”
NPQML, Natalie Beveridge, TIBHS, Blackburn

“The NPQML has enabled me to appreciate the many roles and responsibilities that a leader has, as well as highlighting the importance of motivating others by maintaining high expectations for both colleagues and pupils. Having the opportunity to work with staff to help develop their practice is something that is immensely rewarding – even more so when I see the positive effects that this has on the children at our school.”

NPQML, Parveen Yusuf, The Olive School, Blackburn

“The quality of the delivery was excellent, as was the calibre of resources. The sessions were always informative and interesting. I enjoyed them immensely and found the insights of former Headteachers to be extremely valuable.”

NPQML, Richard Foster, Eden Boys’ School, Bolton