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Henley launches the new Senior Leader Apprenticeship (Business Administration)

Senior Leader Apprenticeship Business Administration

Anne, can you tell us why there has been a change?

In January 2021, following a review of the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), changes to the standard were confirmed. These included an adjustment to the funding band, and the removal of the degree element, as well as small amendments to the standards themselves. This created the new Senior Leader Apprenticeship (SLA) standard. We have put a lot of energy into consulting with our clients around their needs for this programme. This has allowed us to design the Senior Leader Apprenticeship (Business Administration) programme that enables students to directly address the senior leader apprenticeship standards, while making it highly relevant to the challenges that leaders and managers are facing today.

These challenges include:

  • encouraging values-based leadership, with a strong focus on ethics, sustainability and corporate responsibility
  • leading change, driving innovation and new ways of working – especially given the impact of COVID-19 as well as challenges resulting from Brexit
  • developing high performance, agile and collaborative cultures
  • creating an inclusive workplace, encouraging diversity and difference
  • ensuring employee wellbeing and resilience.

So, what programme have we developed and what Quality Assurance process has it gone through?

Henley’s Senior Leader Apprenticeship (Business Administration) programme enables learners to address all the SLA standards ‘head-on’ through the application of learning to ‘live’ work-based challenges. I’m really excited about this programme as I was able to bring together the experiences of my colleagues within Henley and consult with businesses along the way, as well as, crucially, taking on board the experience of our many hundreds of learners over the past few years, and being able to observe the impact of the learning on their organisations. This programme creates an architecture of support for senior leaders which improves their knowledge, develops their skills and helps them modify their behaviours, where needed.

Although not an academic degree programme, it has still been submitted to the University of Reading for verification and approval, ensuring that it meets the rigorous quality standards demanded by Henley Business School and the University Programmes Board. In addition, we shared details of the programme with some of our External Examiners, who provided positive and constructive feedback, to which we responded, and which gave us further endorsement for our exciting new approach.

What are the key features of the Senior Leader Apprenticeship (Business Administration) programme?

They are:

  • strong collaboration between employers, individual learners and Henley, to maximise benefits to both the individual and the organisation
  • a programme lasting approximately 15 months, followed by an End Point Assessment
  • seven core modules which directly reflect the Level 7 Senior Leader Apprenticeship standards, with a clear focus on delivering the required learning outcomes associated with these standards
  • an innovative delivery method based around the development of work-based projects, using action learning approaches to drive successful outcomes.

Students work in Learning Teams and tackle a ‘live’ challenge in the workplace for each module, using action learning techniques, with the support of a Learning Coach. Students develop their work-based projects throughout an eight-week ‘Sprint’: the learning journey for the module. Each Sprint incorporates check-in points with the Learning Coach, as well as an action learning workshop. This workshop is facilitated by the Learning Coach and supported by a member of Henley’s academic staff with relevant subject-matter expertise.

The Learning Coach helps facilitate the learners’ application of new knowledge in the workplace. This is a blended learning programme with a variety of rich content provided on the Canvas learning platform, to cover knowledge requirements. Students can also post any questions to an online tutor. While a Learning Coach facilitates learning during a particular module Sprint, an Apprenticeship Tutor helps the learner successfully manage their progression throughout the programme as well as providing pastoral support. The Apprenticeship Tutor will hold regular reviews with the learner, to check progress during the programme. Assessment of the SLA is via an End Point Assessment (EPA) with an independent assessor, for which the student must produce an evidence portfolio and a strategic business proposal.

Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration:

Given Henley’s outstanding reputation and heritage in delivering MBA programmes, we were very keen to provide students with the opportunity to leverage their learning experience from the SLA to achieve an academic qualification. We are really pleased to have gained University approval to offer a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration to those students who:

  1. successfully pass their End Point Assessment
  2. then submit their body of work from the SLA for academic evaluation, and who are deemed to have achieved a Pass. (The seven work-based projects completed during the SLA programme and strategic business proposal will be submitted for post-programme academic evaluated, for an additional fee).

Students who gain a Pass in four of these assignments will exit with a Postgraduate Certificate in Business Administration. Students who gain a Pass in all eight assignments will exit with a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration.

This then opens up a further exciting opportunity for students: to join Stage 3 of the Flexible Executive MBA programme (subject to an additional fee).

In what circumstances would a client use this new programme?

I can see this being used by a variety of clients for the development of their senior managers, or those who aspire to be senior managers. As well as providing exciting opportunities for individual employees to grow both professionally and personally, the organisational benefits go well beyond this.

With strong employer support, this programme can potentially play a significant role in enabling organisational transformation. We already know from our existing SLMDA MBA programme that individuals’ applied assignments can trigger improvements in management practice. Think how much more powerful this SLA programme will be as a catalyst for positive organisational change, given the emphasis on employer involvement in the selection of work-based challenges. A collaborative approach between the employer, the student and the Henley Learning Coaches will help to ensure that the organisation’s transformation agenda is at the heart of each project’s goals.

What are your ambitions for the programme?

I would rather talk in terms of ambitions for learners and employers, than ambitions for the programme! This programme exists to enable both learners and employers to meet their development goals. It’s about enabling both individual and organisational transformation: for individuals to be the best senior leaders they can be, within organisations that are best-placed to thrive in today’s challenging business environment.

Published 18 February 2021
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