National Professional
Qualification for
Senior Leadership

Senior leaders play a critical part in developing and implementing all strategic and operational decisions at cross school and whole school level. As a key role model in the school, senior leaders must demonstrate collective responsibility, be at the operational sharp edge of change and effectively manage staff.

The National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) is the leading qualification for current or aspiring senior leaders. The programme tackles the challenges of leading across a school. On completion of our NPQSL, you will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and confidence to drive your school forward as part of a Senior Leadership Team.

We offer a unique programme with excellence, critical reflection and high quality school-based practice at its heart. Our tailored programme will ensure your learning is relevant to your needs and offer you the opportunity to work with outstanding leaders.

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.

NPQSL Application Form


The NPQSL is for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities e.g. an experienced middle leader, an Assistant Headteacher, a Deputy Headteacher, or other senior staff.

This includes those who are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities e.g. a Director of a Teaching School Alliance (TSA).


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

  • Complete 6 study modules
  • Undertake a final assessment


The six NPQSL 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:
Analyse performance data to identify the causes of variation within a school and against comparative schools Sources of internal, national and socio-economic data that can inform pupil progress and identify underachievement
Statistical and data analysis concepts, including confidence intervals, statistical significance, sampling, correlation and causation
Ensure data collected is necessary, proportionate and manageable for staff Data collection best practice
Work with the governing board effectively to identify and agree approaches to school priorities The key features of effective governance
Design and implement sustainable change across a school Research into the characteristics of successful change programmes, drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts
Learn how to: Learn about:
Use a range of techniques to gather evidence on teaching quality and the impact of interventions across a school A range of techniques to gather evidence in relation to teaching quality and evaluate the impact of interventions
Reduce variation within the school and against comparative schools by improving pupil progress, attainment and behaviour Research into, and examples of, leadership or management strategies that have improved pupil behaviour, progress and attainment and reduced variation across a school, drawn from a range of schools
Legal frameworks and guidance relating to behaviour management, attendance, exclusions and bullying
Develop and maintain a rich, high-quality school curriculum Research into, and examples of, curriculum development approaches/techniques
The benefits, characteristics and examples of knowledge-rich curricula
Learn how to: Learn about:
Lead, motivate and influence others, including beyond the line management chain, to deliver whole-school objectives Research into, and examples of, leadership, motivation and influence, drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts
Develop a communications plan that promotes or defends the school’s performance, policies or decisions effectively Examples of successful communications plans and techniques used by schools
Learn how to: Learn about:
Identify a range of local and national partners that can support school improvement Tools and techniques to identify the organisation’s stakeholders and analyse their views
Put in place systems, processes or structures which facilitate knowledge transfer and shared best practice within and beyond the school Research into, and examples of, structured partnerships that have improved capability and performance, drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts
Identify the most effective partnerships for improving pupil progress Tools and techniques to evaluate the impact of partnership working on pupil progress and attainment
Learn how to: Learn about:
Deploy resources across a school effectively and efficiently to deliver school priorities Financial appraisal tools, techniques and concepts
Monitor the use of resources across a school, identifying opportunities and pressures Resource monitoring tools and techniques drawn from a range of schools, including benchmarking
Systematically identify, manage and mitigate risks to the school, its pupils and staff Effective risk management tools, techniques and practice, drawn from a range of schools and non-school contexts
The requirements, and examples of, effective practice in relation to managing Single Central Records
The Prevent Duty for schools and associated processes and practice
Learn how to: Learn about:
Identify excellent professional development practice Key research into, and examples of, excellent professional development, including for new/recently qualified teachers, drawn from a range of schools
Identify talent within an organisation and put in place arrangements or tools to develop and retain it Successful talent identification and retention strategies in a range of schools and non-school contexts
Design professional development strategies, which engage all staff and anticipate future professional development needs Structures, tools and techniques that facilitate joint, work-based and self-directed study
Factors that drive changing professional development needs

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 7 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 NPQSL (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 60 credits accredited prior learning from the NPQSL 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: NPQSL (60 credits) three 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 NPQSL.

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 NPQSL final assessment.

You will be expected to lead an improvement programme across your school, lasting at least 2 terms, to reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching.


12 months.


Star Development Centres currently offering the NPQSL:

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
Manchester TBC TBC TBC
Salford and North East Ellesmere Park High School Heather Aaron
0161 789 4565
Open for applications
Stalybridge TBC TBC TBC
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 Kate Atherton
01282 865200
Open for applications
Lancaster Central Lancaster High School Nicola Hall
01524 32636
Open for applications
Preston Red Rose Teaching School Alliance and Catholic Teaching Alliance Adrian Gormally
01772 326931
Open for applications
Mossley Hill TBC TBC TBC
West Midlands
Hereford TBC TBC TBC
Birmingham TBC TBC TBC
Wolverhampton The Royal School Louise Hale
01902 341230
Open for applications
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.

NPQSL Application Form


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


“This is a highly reflective course delivered by competent and interesting leaders who inspire and motivate me to want to improve my skills in leadership. One of the most worthwhile and inspiring courses I have been on that I know has already had an impact on me as a middle leader in current role.”
NPQSL, Victoria Cross, Helsby High School, Cheshire
“Content was great, so passionate and reminded me of the moral imperative.”
NPQSL, Kate Doyle, Kelsall Primary School