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Improvement Leader Apprenticeship

Improvement Leader Apprenticeship | Managing Business Transformation

At a glance

  • Empower managers to deliver complex change projects when faced with a volatile business environment
  • Build organisational capability and equip operational improvement leaders to drive change and transformation
  • Equip learners with globally-recognised expertise in project and change management principles
  • Build confident leaders who empower others to champion change
  • Use impactful work-based projects to enable immediate change
Subject area(s)
Business & Management
£15,000 (can be funded by your organisation's apprenticeship service account)
Course length
Up to 22 months, including the End-point assessment (EPA)
Suitable for
Those responsible for developing or leading improvement strategy and for providing leadership in improvement activities.


Today’s organisations face major changes like never before. In the aftermath of the pandemic, teams are adjusting to a remote or hybrid working world. This coincides with other significant shifts in the workplace, such as digital transformation, improving sustainability, and tackling recruitment issues. With these developments affecting businesses of all types, teams need dependable, competent leaders to champion improvement and maintain stability.

The Improvement Leader Apprenticeship | Managing Business Transformation programme will upskill management and leadership staff in your organisation. This Level 6 degree apprenticeship enables managers to become resilient leaders who can embrace business opportunities and withstand challenges.

Learners who complete this programme will become capable leaders who can:

  • train and delegate improvement specialists, teams and stakeholders to ensure an efficient improvement strategy
  • plan processes and resources to support improvement strategy deployment, such as guidance for structured project reviews
  • develop a long-term transformation strategy that incorporates Lean and Six Sigma principles
  • design and source training solutions for your organisation
  • lead large-scale, complex improvement or sustainability activities
  • support colleagues to apply theory and graphical or statistical analyses to projects and tasks

Apprentices who complete this Executive Diploma will gain a sought-after qualification from our Business School, which specialises in the fields of leadership, organisations and behaviour. Our open executive-level programmes are ranked the fourth highest in the UK, cementing Henley’s role in defining change in the nation’s businesses.

Key benefits

Typically, learners on this programme will have at least two years’ experience in improvement activities. This might include:

  • a history of participating in projects, process and change management activities
  • experience in developing methods and resources to support colleagues and stakeholders
  • an understanding of business improvement techniques, such as coaching or building the capability of others
  • the ability to apply improvement principles within projects
  • experience with building strategies and leading improvement projects.

As the employer, you need to formally nominate learners before they can apply to our apprenticeship programmes. You must also enter a three-way agreement with the apprentice and Henley Business School / the University of Reading. Find out more about the application process.

Entry requirements for the individual

Apprentices without Level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to entering the programme.

As an alternative to English qualifications, Henley supports a British Sign Language (BSL) qualification if it is the applicant’s primary language.

The Improvement Leader Apprenticeship | Managing Business Transformation costs £15,000. Your organisation can fund this with its apprenticeship service account. All employers will need to have an account to access our apprenticeship service.

How the apprentice is supported

Off-the-job training

Apprentices will spend 20% of their time on ‘off-the-job training’. This is a mandatory component of an apprenticeship that the employer must support them with. Both the learner and employer need to agree on how this time is set aside around the learner's work commitments as it is training that they will undertake during their paid hours. Off-the-job training is not exclusive to workshops and online study sessions - other examples include:

  • Practical training: shadowing, mentoring and industry visits
  • Chairing or attending meetings (outside the normal job function)
  • Learning support and time spent writing assignments
  • Meeting with the apprenticeship tutor
  • Working on their evidence portfolio.
Line manager

Additional support for the apprentice comes from their line manager. We will engage with them to ensure they understand the details of the programme and format for learning as well as the requirements for off-the-job training. Line managers will also be involved in agreeing on impactful work-based projects, meeting with the apprenticeship learning coach, and, if required, allocating apprentices a mentor.

During the action learning workshops and through some of the online learning apprentices will have the opportunity to learn from our academic staff, whose knowledge and expertise underpin the modules they will study.​

The Improvement Leader Apprenticeship programme will be taught using a blended learning method that combines learning in the workplace with face-to-face workshops* and online learning. In the workshops, apprentices will have the opportunity to learn from Henley's apprenticeship learning coaches who have relevant background experience in these subject areas.

The programme includes:

  • Blended learning combines face-to-face workshops, with the virtual learning environment (VLE). The VLE provides access to resources and learning coach interactions to develop your learning portfolio which allows you to reflect on the knowledge, skills and behaviours that you develop throughout the programme
  • Application of learning in the workplace: Implementation of the new tools, techniques and methodologies learnt, with guidance from Henley academic staff and learning coaches
  • Continuous 360-degree reviews of your progress with you, your line manager and Henley learning coaches
  • Liaison with the learner's employer and line manager to determine the topics to use in the work-based projects

The learning in the workplace is supported by ten core modules. These will be delivered through a combination of online learning and experiential learning through application in the workplace, supported by a learning coach.

This apprenticeship programme consists of three streams delivered over three stages.


Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Leading direction

Strategic thinking

Teams and leadership

Project and change management

Process improvement

Process management

Problem-solving methods

Improvement methods and strategies

Data-driven measurement

Measurement systems

Data analysis

Experimentation and optimisation

Each stream includes three modules tailored to core aspects of improvement and leadership. Apprentices study each module for an eight-week period, with each stage lasting six months. In addition to the stream-specific modules, all learners complete the standard Professional practice module.

Module assessment

At the end of each eight-week module, apprentices complete a 1,500-word work-based project. When completing these projects, learners focus on improving a process, system, product or leadership approach. The work-based assessments form part of each apprentice’s portfolio for their end-point assessment (EPA).

The EPA also includes a work-based dissertation of 4,000-5,000 words. This assessment focuses on the development and deployment of an improvement strategy. Learners present their work to assessors for 45-50 minutes, followed by a questioning session of 35-40 minutes.

Dr Sinem Bulkan is an experienced lecturer in Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at Henley. Her specialities include the impact of ‘dark leadership’ on employees’ behaviours and attitudes. She has presented her research at leading academic conferences, including the British Academy of Management.

Dr Sinem Bulkan is an experienced lecturer in Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at Henley. Her specialities include the impact of ‘dark leadership’ on employees’ behaviours and attitudes. She has presented her research at leading academic conferences, including the British Academy of Management.

Sinem has extensive experience in the managerial world, having worked for 12 years as a regional sales manager and finance manager in Istanbul. She combines her award-winning academic credentials with her business experience to teach apprentices the most effective leadership strategies.

The assessment process allows learners to showcase the impact of their work and learning with the submission of a work-based project at the end of each module. ​

Learners will collect evidence of knowledge, skills and behaviours as they progress through the programme. They will then showcase this evidence in the final stage of the apprenticeship. This is known as the end-point assessment (EPA), comprising an evidence portfolio and work-based dissertation.


On successful completion of the EPA, learners will hold:

  • Level 6 Improvement Leader Apprenticeship
  • Henley Executive Diploma in Managing Business Transformation.

For clients who want to run a closed cohort, we have the flexibility to deliver the programme at locations nationwide. If you do not want to use your organisation's facilities, we are happy to arrange an alternative teaching venue that is more convenient for your staff.

Henley Business School also delivers open cohorts in venues across the country. We typically deliver our first and last workshops at our Greenlands campus near Henley-on-Thames. Set in sweeping parkland on the banks of the River Thames, this beautiful campus provides an inspiring and reflective environment for focused work and study.

Find out more about our facilities and how to find us

Why choose Henley?

For 75 years, Henley Business School has developed confident and resilient business leaders. Find out more about our approach to working with you

Contact us

For more information about Henley’s apprenticeship programmes please contact

Telephone: (0)118 378 4030