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Leadership apprenticeships

Our leadership apprenticeships are offered in partnership with the University of Derby, including its subsidiary Buxton and Leek College, and Derbyshire Adult Community Education (DACES) to support our leaders and managers as we move forward as an enterprising council.

Boldness, innovation, embracing change and thinking and doing things differently are all essential to our success in achieving our collective vision for Derbyshire.

While supporting personal aspirations and continuous professional development, the benefits that leadership development offers are far reaching. This is an opportunity for successful individuals to:

  • achieve a leadership and management apprenticeship including a qualification at degree or postgraduate level at no personal financial cost as the funding is covered by the Apprenticeship Levy
  • develop core leadership competencies and enhanced leadership confidence and performance
  • support your academic progress with the support of a mentoring relationship throughout the duration of the programme
  • be at the spearhead of significant cultural change within our organisation by driving projects that are aligned to work based challenges
  • with the support of your line manager dedicate 6 hours per week of your working time to leadership development
  • register with a professional body, for example Chartered Management Institute

Senior Leader Apprenticeship (level 7)

Aimed at strategic leaders with senior management responsibility, this can include formal governance or director responsibilities. You are responsible for setting strategy, direction and vision, for providing a clear sense of purpose and driving strategic intent. You consider global and macro level market trends and environmental influences, identifying longer-term opportunities and risks. Through inclusive leadership, you are responsible for developing ethical, innovative and supportive cultures with the agility to deliver results, and are a role model, with responsibility for those in senior positions and for significant organisational budgets.

You'll achieve a Senior Leader Apprenticeship which includes the additional Postgraduate Diploma in Management award. This apprenticeship will typically take 2 to 2-and-a-half years to complete. The exact duration will be dependent on previous experience.

The University of Derby may offer the opportunity to gain the additional 60 credits to upgrade the qualification to an MBA / MSc on successful completion of the apprenticeship. The costs of any MBA / MSc upgrade cannot be met from the apprenticeship levy. Funding support cannot be guaranteed therefore anyone interested in taking up this offer will either have to seek funding via our qualification training scheme or self-fund.

Read more about the senior leader apprenticeship.

Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (level 6)

Aimed at professional managers who take lead responsibility for people, projects, operations and or services to deliver long term organisational success, with the professional recognition of their ability to deliver impact, behave ethically and demonstrate their commitment to continual learning and development. This apprenticeship is applicable to professional managers from all sectors and all sizes of organisation.

Working with the University of Derby, you'll achieve a Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship which incorporates a BA (Hons) Business Management and Leadership as an additional qualification. Typically taking 4 years to complete, the exact duration will be dependent on previous experience and whether you've been accepted on the level 6 top up route, typically taking 2 years.

Read more about the chartered management degree.

Operations or Departmental Manager Apprenticeship (level 5)

Aimed at operations or departmental managers who manage teams or projects, and have responsibility for planning, delivering and achieving operational or departmental goals and objectives. They are accountable to a more senior manager, for example head of department and are responsible for the operational and or policy delivery of the organisation's strategy. Specific responsibilities and job titles will vary, but the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed will be the same. Key responsibilities may include creating and delivering operational plans, managing projects, leading and managing teams, managing change, financial and resource management, talent management, coaching and mentoring.

You'll achieve the Operations or Departmental Manager apprenticeship which includes a Level 5 Diploma in Management as an integral qualification. Typically taking 2-and-a-half-years to complete, the exact duration will be dependent on previous experience. This apprenticeship will be delivered by Buxton and Leek College on behalf of the University of Derby.

Read more about the operations departmental manager degree.

Team Leader Apprenticeship (level 3)

This apprenticeship is aimed at team leaders, supervisors or anyone who is in or aspiring to a first line management role. It is applicable to those with operational and project responsibilities or responsibility for managing a team to deliver a clearly defined outcome. They provide direction, instructions and guidance to ensure the achievement of set goals. Specific responsibilities will vary, but the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed will be the same whatever the role. Key responsibilities are likely to include supporting, managing and developing team members, managing projects, planning and monitoring workloads and resources, delivering operational plans, resolving problems, and building relationships internally and externally.

This apprenticeship typically takes 12 to 18 months to achieve and is delivered by Derbyshire Community Education Service (DACES) who are the council's internal apprenticeship provider. On completion, apprentices may choose to register as Associate Members with the Chartered Management Institute and/or the Institute of leadership and management, to support their professional career development and progression.

Read more about the team leader apprenticeship.


The following are quotes from senior leader apprentices:

"I started the leadership and management apprenticeship early October and was quite apprehensive at first, mainly due to much of the course having to be delivered virtually. We have now completed the first module assessment and I have already gained skills that I am able to apply to my current role. University of Derby have been fantastic from the very beginning in providing course material and keeping everyone informed of course requirements. As a cohort we have WhatsApp and Teams groups setup to collaborate, share ideas and experiences. The whole experience so far has been great and I would recommend anyone considering the course to go for it."

"I have been fortunate to get a place on the Leadership Apprenticeship Course being run by Derby University and arranged through DCC. I was looking forward to undertaking this course although with some trepidation as it is 14 years since I have undertaken formal academic work. The tutors and the university have been really supportive making the work very accessible and guiding us through the first assignment which I have just completed. Like everything the course has been affected by Covid so we are undertaking the course remotely which has some advantages such as being able to watch the lectures again. Those of us doing the course also have a WhatsApp group set up which has been great in supporting each other. It's been a challenge and lots of work but definitely worth it. I have enjoyed the return to formal learning and reflecting on my role and work in the department as part of this."

"Despite the current restrictions on our daily lives the University's online learning system has enabled studies to continue and the approach of each lecturer is varied, making content interesting. My work-based mentor has also been extremely supportive as well as insightful, setting our service into context in relation to the council and bigger picture and helpful in defining value and essential content for my first assignment."

"It's a great privilege to have the opportunity to take part in the apprenticeship, it's extremely challenging, thought provoking, and great opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues."

"I have welcomed the challenge of learning a new area with like-minded colleagues whilst being able to witness its implications within the workplace. It is a great opportunity and I would highly recommend this apprenticeship."

The application process

The 2024 leadership apprenticeship application window is open from 1 April to 14 June 2024.

All applications will need to be submitted and to have received line manager approval, through the online application process, no later than end of business on the closing date.  

The application window aligns with the start of the 2024 annual PDR cycle. The PDR process, or one-to-one / supervision process if you do not undertake PDR, will provide an ideal opportunity to discuss your development aspirations with your manager and identify whether an apprenticeship is suitable and can be supported at this time.

The application and approvals processes are rigorous so you will need to take some time researching the apprenticeships and completing your application.

Each applicant's enrolment must also comply with the government's detailed apprenticeship levy funding criteria - full completion of the digital AP1 application form will ensure compliance with these criteria. 

To make an application please complete the digital 'Apprenticeship for existing employees' application form' (AP1).

Apprenticeship application form for employees

View the apprenticeship application guidance for employees.

Your application needs to evidence how undertaking this apprenticeship will meet departmental and our workforce development and workforce planning requirements.

Those applying for a level 5, 6 and 7 are required to identify a mentor and to have sought their agreement prior to applying. Read more about the leadership apprentice, line manager and mentor relationship.

When you have submitted the application form it will generate an email to your line manager asking them to provide approval for your application.

Applicants in a seconded role

For those applicants in a seconded position where this role is likely to finish ahead of the length of the apprenticeship, the recommendation is that you discuss your apprenticeship application with both your seconded and substantive managers as when you return there may no longer be the scope in your role to meet the knowledge, skills and behaviours to complete your apprenticeship.

In order to fulfil the application process, applicants in this situation are required to gain the support of both the seconded line manager (on the application form) and the substantive line manager by a follow-up email. The substantive line manager should email:

Closing date

The application period closes on Friday 14 June 2024.

The application window is open for 11 weeks and so there should be plenty of time to discuss a potential application with your line manager and to submit this before the closing date.

You are recommended not to leave submission until the last minute as you will need time for your line manager to review and approve the application prior to close of business on the closing date.

No applications which are submitted after this date, or which do not have line manager approval in place by the closing date, will be accepted or processed. This is due to the extremely tight timescales to complete the final internal approvals and provider eligibility / suitability checks that are required prior to enrolment. 


Subject to approval at departmental senior management level, final approval of your application will then be subject to the university's application process which will include an academic review and interview with the University of Derby. In some cases, this may result in a different level of programme being recommended and agreed.

Successful Team Leader (level 3) applications will be referred to DACES so that a similar academic review and interview process can be undertaken.


The costs for apprenticeship learning delivery will be met from the apprenticeship levy, in other words, not from service or departmental budgets. In line with our travel policies there may be excess travel costs associated with attending face to face delivery events. The employing service will have responsibility for reimbursing any excess travel costs. 

Information relating to the attainment of functional skills

All leadership apprenticeship standards require attainment of level 2 (GCSE grade C equivalent and above) maths and English. Applicants not able to evidence this will be required to complete the qualification as a prerequisite to embarking on these apprenticeships. Achievement of functional skills is a non-negotiable requirement of the completion of an apprenticeship.

All individuals wanting to progress an apprenticeship but unable to produce a certificate for maths and English will need to undertake the functional skills learning pathway(s) ideally ahead of starting the apprenticeship. You should contact Derbyshire Community Education service (DACES) who are a functional skills learning provider, to set this in motion and not await approval of your apprenticeship application. In our experience it is best to commence the functional skills learning as soon as possible. Please email who will be able to help you access the relevant support. Please continue to complete your apprenticeship application and seek the appropriate approvals in line with the full application process.

To seek any clarification regarding the information on this page or ask any questions please email: