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.

NPQSL Apply Now


Programme NPQSL
Duration Five days or 10 twilights delivered over 10-12 months
Entry requirements Aspiring and serving senior leaders with the support of their school to apply
How to apply Delivered nationally in partnership with Star Development Partners
Contact Contact us or email a Star Development Partner


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

Our courses start throughout the year. To apply, find a Star Development Partner near you and then click on the Apply Now button.


Click here to see our Star Development Partners and locations.


We know that having the opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners and share your experiences with peers is the most important part of your learning.  That’s why we offer 5 really focussed face-to-face leadership learning days.    Alongside this sit online units which you will work through in your own time to supplement the learning from your face-to-face days, prepare you for final assessment and give you and opportunity to look at research and theory.  Types of study include:

  • Face to face sessions
  • Workplace learning
  • Coaching and mentor support from sponsor
  • Online collaborative learning
  • Reading and reflective learning
  • Online, self-directed learning

The NPQSL programme is based on the  six areas of the DfE’s NPQSL Content and Assessment Framework and  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.

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).

The final assessment for NPQSL involves completing a school improvement project over at least two terms titled: Working across the school to a) reduce variation in pupil progress and attainment b) improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching. You will submit a 5,000 word write up of your project once you have completed your face to face training. This will be assessed against the DfE assessment criteria.

Star Institute’s NPQSL 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 NPQSL, 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 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

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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For information relating to 18/19 programmes, please click here.

NPQSL Apply Now


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

“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