National Academy for Educational Leadership

Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education officially launched the National Academy of Educational Leadership on Wednesday 16 May. She is making a statement to Plenary on 22 May 2018.

17 May 2018

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education officially launched the National Academy of Educational Leadership on Wednesday 16 May. She is making a statement to Plenary on 22 May 2018.

Why a leadership academy

Concerns about the quality of leadership in schools have been identified in number of reports and reviews of the Welsh education system. These include reports by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (PDF 2.74MB) and Estyn Annual Reports for a number of years. These concerns include:

  • A lack of succession planning;
  • A limited number of well-tailored professional development opportunities for senior and middle-level leaders, and teachers;
  • School leadership not being considered an attractive profession;

Estyn inspections identified only a small number of schools as having excellent practice in leadership and planning for improvement.

The Welsh Government reaffirmed its commitment to leadership in its Action Plan for 2017-2021, Education in Wales: Our national mission  (September 2017) [PDF 2MB].  ‘Inspirational leaders working collaboratively to raise standards’ is one of the four key enabling objectives of the Plan which states: ‘promoting and supporting effective, collaborative leadership will therefore be central to our reforms’.

The importance of leadership and background to the establishment of the Academy is discussed in our previous blog article, Leadership in Education (16 May 2017)

A picture of books

How the Academy has been developed

On 12 July 2016, Kirsty Williams announced her intention to establish the National Academy for Educational Leadership (NAEL). In a statement to Plenary on 16 May 2017, Kirsty Williams said:

To succeed, every school needs inspirational leaders, and I believe the establishment of our national academy for educational leadership is an important step forward. Set alongside new professional standards, reforming initial teacher education and curriculum reform, it is part of a coherent and collaborative approach to leadership development.

A Shadow Board, working as a Task and Finish Group, was established in December 2016 to develop a vision, principles and governance structure of the Academy. The Shadow Board was chaired by Ann Keane, former Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales with representatives from key stakeholders and experts.

During 2017, a series of engagement events, regional roadshows, forums and workshops on specific issues took place to gather the views of stakeholders [PDF 435KB].

Structure of the Academy

The NAEL will be at arms-length from the Welsh Government and a Company Limited by Guarantee. It will receive a grant from the Welsh Government and be held to account for its spending, but represent the views of its stakeholders.

In a statement to the Assembly on 16 May 2017, the Cabinet Secretary said that she expected the NAEL to be a ‘small and agile organisation, with a small strategic board, and led by a chief executive.’

Following a public appointment process, on 1 May 2018, it was announced that the Chair of the Academy is to be Dr Sue Davies. The names of the Board Members were also announced.

In addition, a group of Academy Associates have also been appointed.  These are headteachers who have been appointed to influence the initial work of the NAEL. They will be able to engage in the first leadership development programme to be designed and owned by the Academy. Their role will include being part of working groups and panels that will be endorsing provision for leadership development and supporting the design, development and commissioning of leadership development provision.

What the NAEL will do

The Shadow Board has published a ‘vision and principles’ [PPT 102KB] for the NAEL. The principles are that the NAEL will be, excellent, collaborative, responsive, professional and innovative.

The Academy will not itself deliver learning. It will have a strong on-line presence and its core objectives will be to:

  • Ensuring the availability of programmes and provision to support leadership development, and where there are gaps, commissioning suitable provision where there are gaps;
  • Quality assure provision through a process of endorsement;
  • Promote the use and accessibility of leadership research and national and international best practice;
  • Offer support and advice on leadership career pathways;
  • Create a community of peers and offer information and advice.

The Task and Finish Group has worked to develop the principles and practice of endorsement and an information day for providers took place in April.

It is expected that the first programmes to be endorsed by the NAEL will be available from September this year.

Article by Sian Hughes, National Assembly for Wales Research Service


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