Certificate in Strategic Educational Leadership

A short, accessible level 7 module for school business professionals who want to demonstrate their strategic educational leadership.

20 credits at level 7

Aims of the module

This module provides a valuable opportunity for participants, either individually or as a group, to reflect critically on an area of personal or professional practice by engaging with appropriate literature and research in the negotiated field.

The ‘Negotiated Field’ is the area or topic that is being studied. This is agreed with the tutor at the start of the module. Examples of the negotiated field could include, a specific project you have worked on as an SBP, an area of the ISBL Professional Standards you want to research and develop in, or an area of strategic school leadership.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Developed in-depth knowledge and understanding of the negotiated topic area;
  2. Engaged critically in a systematic review of the literature pertinent to the negotiated topic area;
  3. Critically evaluated and applied key concepts and theories related to the negotiated topic area;
  4. Developed critical insights into the negotiated topic area.

Module content

  • Introductory webinar
  • Leadership theories
  • Culture within education
  • Critical incident analysis
  • Leading change in education
  • Assignment writing

This will be supplemented by a range of online resources including, but not limited to, a series of webinars, videos, PowerPoints, eBooks and journal articles.

Learners on this module will follow a high-level structure to their study but will be expected to work independently as they research and analyse their chosen negotiated topic area. This includes seeking support and advice from the module tutor as well as ensuring that all deadlines are met.

“Theories on management and leadership are developing constantly and evolving. Education is a changing landscape and it is important for me to have the skill sets to lead my teams towards positive outcomes for pupils in my school. No one ever gets it right 100% (certainly not me) but by learning and developing I strongly feel I can be the best I can be – that is what I always work towards with all training and qualifications such as this certificate.” 

Fiona Gill

Who is the module aimed at?

The module is aimed at individuals who wish to continue their professional development at level 7 (masters level). You may want to:

  • Demonstrate the level at which you are working at or are capable to working at. The module is open to anyone who currently works in school business role within an appropriate setting.
  • Apply for ISBL Fellowship – If you do not already have a SBP qualification at level 6 or above, then completing the Certificate in Strategic School Leadership will allow you to meet the qualification requirements when applying for ISBL Fellowship.
  • Ensure your knowledge and skills are current so that you can demonstrate not only your continued learning but also your strategic insight which could support you as you progress into executive and specialist roles.
  • Research a specific area of interest to you as professional or one that will benefit your school/trust.
  • Explore studying at this level without committing to a full PG Cert or Masters programme. Completing this module allows you to start to study at level 7 in a manageable and cost effective way, paving the way for further study and qualifications in the future.


The Certificate in Strategic School Leadership is delivered 100% online. You will not need to attend any sessions at the University of Chester. All delivery is carried out via webinars, virtual tutorials, etc.


The module lasts one academic term. There are three cohorts per year, starting at the beginning of the Autumn, Spring and Summer term.


Individuals will complete one written assessment of 4500–5000 words, covering the four learning outcomes stated above and the agreed element of tier 4 of the ISBL Professional Standards.

In order to pass the assessment, students will need to achieve a mark of at least 50%.

What does the programme cost?

  • Member rate £780.00 +VAT
  • Non-member rate £920.00 +VAT

One of the benefits of being an ISBL member is being able to access the member rates for training and conferences. If you are not a member, you can find out more about joining ISBL here.

To be able to access the ISBL member rate, your membership needs to be active before you book your place on the programme.

We do not offer any payment plans. The full cost must be paid in full before you start the programme. Our Terms & Conditions can be found here.

How is the programme funded?

The module is either paid for directly by your school/trust or it can be self-funded. It is separate from the apprenticeship scheme and unfortunately is not eligible for apprenticeship funding.

Progression routes

On completion, you could continue your study and complete two more modules to achieve a postgraduate certificate in educational leadership (PgC) qualification.

You do not have to do this immediately; you can take a break and then rejoin the University of Chester later on in the academic year to continue your studies.

ISBL Fellowship

To meet the criteria for ISBL Fellowship, you must hold a qualification at level 6 or above in school business management or in a subject that supports your professional practice in at least one of the areas of school business management outlined in the ISBL Professional Standards. Achieving this module will help you meet these criteria and support your application for ISBL Fellowship.

I have already achieved the CIPFA Diploma in School Financial and Operational Leadership. Can I receive any credits for it towards the Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Leadership or the MA in Educational Leadership?

Yes you can. The Diploma in School Financial and Operational Leadership can be accepted as part of the MA in Educational Leadership or the Postgraduate certificate in Educational Leadership. As the qualification is not conferred by an HEI it is not an automatic progression and you would have to go through the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) process. This would involve a short discussion with your tutor, lasting about 20 minutes, in order to ensure that the learning is at level 7 and that it is underpinned by the necessary theory. The Ciploma in School Financial and Operational Leadership would then count as 20 credits towards the educational leadership qualification.

This means that once you have achieved the Certificate in Strategic Educational Leadership and the Diploma in School Financial and Operational Leadership, you only need to achieve one more module to gain the Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Leadership.


Click here to view the FAQs for this module.

How can I book my place?

To book your place and to find the date of the next cohort Click here .

Once you have booked and paid for your place, you will be sent instructions on how to register with the University of Chester. As part of this process we recommend you read the FAQs.