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Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education

First published:
17 November 2016
Last updated:

I’m pleased to announce significant progress on the development of a National Academy of Educational Leadership.

International evidence tells us that the best performing education systems produce and develop teachers as outstanding leaders. Critical to the success of our education reforms is developing the capacity of our education workforce to shape and lead change and to raise standards.

The OECD told us in 2014 that we should “treat developing system leadership as a prime driver of education reform.” As set out in the Programme for Government, we are committed to incentivising, recognising and promoting teaching excellence so that we raise standards across the board, and develop training and opportunities for teachers and the broader education workforce.

The development of the Leadership Academy is an important step forward, alongside our new professional teaching standards, reforming Initial Teacher Education, and curriculum reform, in our collaborative approach to leadership development.

Key partners from within Wales and beyond have been part of initial discussions aimed at designing a facilitating body.  This body will help move forward our reform agenda and provide current and future leaders with the learning opportunities they need to ensure a thriving community of leaders in education.  

Following discussions with these partners, I will be forming a Shadow Board for the Academy which will work on a task and finish basis  to fully scope the remit, organisational structure, governance arrangements, and vision for the proposed Academy.

I have asked Ann Keane former HMCI to chair the initial phase of this work.   She will work with all key partners to develop the framework for the Academy.  To support the chair we have also secured the following members for the shadow board:

  • Professor Alasdair Macdonald -  who works with the Welsh Government as the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) Advocate 
  • Professor Mick Waters - an experienced head, and previous Director of Curriculum for QCA, Mick is currently working with WG on the development of professional standards (including collaboratively developing those for school leaders);
  • A representative of ADEW (the Association of Directors of Education);
  • A nominated representative of the four regional consortia Managing Directors;  
  • A representative of the Education Workforce Council; and
  • A representative of the WLGA.

HMCI Estyn will also act as an observer to the board.  The teaching unions have also been invited to nominate a representative for the Board.  The shadow board will initially be supported by my officials but I am additionally seeking to secure an external consultancy company to provide expertise and resource as this work progresses.  The board will determine further working groups, for example ensuring experience of leadership in other fields and from across the world,  that may support them in their work across a range of interested user groups.


I expect the board to engage widely with teaching professionals and leaders to ensure that the Academy is developed in such a way that it holds their confidence. Ultimately, the intention is for the Academy to become the go-to body providing access for our educationalists to the best learning in the world, delivered through partnership here in Wales. 

The Academy will ensure that we can successfully develop current and future leadership talent for Wales, through effective partnership working between schools, local authorities, regional consortia and higher education institutions – within Wales and beyond.  

It will help ensure that all schools can deliver our new curriculum and vision for education in Wales, and ensure that our system develops with greater consistency, and with collaboration at its heart.  

The Academy will be at arm’s length from Government. Over time I expect that it will be embraced by teachers and others across Wales as it works with and for them to ensure that the professionals who lead, and those who will lead in the future, benefit from development opportunities that are well-designed and quality assured and which provide a global outlook on leadership.  .  

The Academy will not be a provider, but will work with all committed partners to ensure that leadership development is well co-ordinated, appropriate, challenging, and designed to equip all leaders with the skills and knowledge to lead in a changing world.  I  also expect to see our Universities work closely with each other and our regional services, and where appropriate, with global leaders in educational leadership to facilitate progression for individuals, across a range of providers.  

While establishing the Academy, we will focus on ensuring that we work with two target groups.  

  • We will focus on the critical needs of our next generation of headteachers, ensuring that they are well prepared for the crucial role of headship.  This will include considering the current structure of the NPQH qualification, as well as developing pathways for aspiring heads, and importantly supporting new heads in the early years of their role.
  • We will also work with our well-established and successful headteachers to help create a group of leaders that can then provide further extensive leadership across our entire system.  This will include making sure that Welsh Government is well informed by our leading educationalists.   

Beyond that initial period, the Academy will oversee the roll-out of support and development for a wider group of educationalists – including senior and middle leaders in educational providers, local authority education staff as well as Welsh Government education officials.  Now is the time for ensuring that all of our key players share a vision for the future of education in Wales.


So, today I provide a challenge to our partners in Higher Education, the regional services and other settings to ask you to work openly and transparently with the range of necessary partners so that you can play your part in a co-ordinated and collaborative way.

This is a Leadership Academy that will serve our education community.  The first group of serving and aspiring headteachers will be able to benefit from programmes in September 2017 and after that I expect to see the entire leadership community in Welsh education to benefit from the work of our new Academy.  

This is an important step in our national mission to ensure that our entire system continues on its journey of improvement.