A new National Academy of Educational Leadership for Wales was announced by the Education Secretary Kirsty Williams in November 2016. January 2017 has seen a notable step towards establishing it.
A Shadow Board, led by former Chief Inspector for Estyn Ann Keane, is tasked with bringing the Academy into being. It met for the first time in early January.
Among the Board members are Hannah Woodhouse, Managing Director of school improvement consortia Central South; Rob Williams, Wales Policy Director for union NAHT; and Aled Evans, Director of Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning at Neath Port Talbot Local Authority.
The vision for the Academy is that it will support education professionals to fulfil current and future roles in a wide range of educational settings. It is intended to generate excellent school leaders but also leaders across the system, including local authorities, Welsh Government and the wider education system.
To deliver this vision, the Academy will broker and quality assure a clearly identified range of appropriately accredited provision to develop current and future leadership talent.
The Academy will not itself be a deliverer of learning; it is likely to be a virtual organisation that brings expertise to bear upon others who actually provide leadership development at national, regional and local levels, in both Welsh and English mediums.
To ensure that there is continuity in the pathway to leadership, the Shadow Board includes Professor Mick Waters, who is currently leading the development of new professional standards for teachers.
According to Welsh Government officials, the immediate priorities of the Shadow Board are:
- Explore and establish a sound governance structure
- Form the overarching vision for the Academy
- Establish Provision and Partnerships
- Marketing and Communication
Currently, it is necessary for an individual seeking appointment as a headteacher in Wales to have the NPQH qualification. It is widely believed that a decision to relax this requirement was imminent in November 2016 but was overtaken by the announcement of the Academy and establishment of the Shadow Board; the Board now has to consider recommending relaxing the requirement as part of a wider set of measures.