Become an Academy Associate


The National Academy for Education Leadership (NAEL) is committed to ensuring that Wales is a great place to be an educational leader and that through high quality leadership across the educational system we deliver our bold ambition for learners.

It is an arms length organisation from Welsh Government and has it own Company structure which is headed by Dr Sue Davies, as Chair of the Board. As a Company Limited by Guarantee established in May 2018, it will represent the voice of the sector and develop leadership across the whole educational sector.  The Company’s Chief Executive is Huw Foster Evans who has vast experience in the educational field over many years

The NAEL is committed to equity of access to high-quality leadership development for all those serving the education system in Wales. The NAEL is working to secure, nurture and inspire leaders now and for the future.  We will do this in partnership with all those who have a part to play in realising the ambition for the Welsh Education system.

To help us meet this bold ambition we are looking for effective and credible leaders from across Wales to join the current group of Associates and become the next group of Associates of the Academy. As Associates you will play an influential role in the development of the Academy and will also play a key role, alongside the NAEL, in delivering on the ambition outlined in ‘Education Wales: Our National Mission’. The Associates will become role models for educational leadership across Wales.

To support this exciting and challenging role, Associates will have the opportunity to engage in a commission for the Academy and support the development of the Associate Role. Through this exclusive role you will develop and strengthen your skills and knowledge to become an active setting based strategic system-leader in Wales.

This is a unique opportunity to ensure that the work of the Academy meets the needs of all leaders in Wales.  Associates will be in a unique position not only to help the NAEL make an impact on educational leadership in Wales but will also influence the work of the Academy and help secure its standing for the future.

The role of the successful Associates will be to:

  • Ensure that that the Academy understands the contribution leaders in Wales are making to the future of Welsh children and young people and is able to meet their leadership development needs in a range of ways. The Academy needs to look and feel credible to all leaders in Wales and the Associates will have a key role in helping fulfill this through ensuring a close and effective working relationship between the Academy and the education system.
  • Support specific areas of development by playing a role on working groups and panels. Associates will have an active role in supporting the quality Assurance area of work for the Academy not just through endorsement but also supporting and bringing forward innovative approaches to leadership development in Wales
  • Associates will represent the ‘voice of practice’ within and beyond the Academy.
  • Play a key role in supporting the design, development and commissioning of leadership development provision; engage in research that will support the concept of schools as learning organisations; and work on key strategic areas of system-wide improvement.
  • Ensure that the work of the Associates is in line with the new National Framework of Professional Learning
  • The Associates will have an outward facing role, working with and through a range of networks to ensure that the whole educational sector feels connected to the Academy and understands its values and principles
  • Play a key role in building ‘system leadership’ capability and capacity across Wales and in helping others to develop the capability to support other leaders.
  • Associates will be invited to produce content for the NAEL website and support the development through blogs, case studies of your own experiences

Time commitment

The expected time commitment required to carry out the role will vary across weeks and according to the interest and expertise of the Associate, but is expected to be at lest a day a week for the first year. A further two years engagement is likely and will be related the specific interest of the Associate and subject to mutual agreement between the Associate and the Academy.

In Year 1 the Associate will be part of a strategic commission for the Academy which will develop your skills and knowledge. The Associate Role has been designed to achieve two outcomes. It will develop the leadership skills required to operate as a system leader and lead strategic reform while also helping to equip you for the role of Associate of the Academy. It will consist of a series of core seminars and there will be an opportunity for the Associates to work together as a Communities of Enquiry that supports the commission which will address issues of national significance on behalf of the Academy.

Funding will be available to provide an element of compensation to the school for releasing the Associate to fulfil the role.

For the initial 12 months period the NAEL will provide a contribution to the releasing school of £12,000.  Funding for future years is currently being considered by the NAEL and will subject to priorities, available budget, level of participation and mutually agreed.

Selection Criteria

The Academy is keen to ensure that the Associates reflect the diversity of school and other educational settings in Wales; the Academy is only to well aware that highly effective leaders work in many types of settings and we encourage all leaders wherever they are to consider what contribution they can play.

For this next round of Associates we are seeking a further 12 Associates from the school sector and would especially like further consideration by credible and highly effective Headteachers from rural and special schools.  Each school will be at different stages of their improvement journey and all leaders are invited to consider how far they meet the criteria below and the specific expertise and experience they can bring to the role of the Associate.

We anticipate recruiting a further cohort of around 12 Associates drawn from across the Welsh regions.

The successful Associate will be expected to demonstrate the following in their current and/or previous roles:

  • A current serving leader / Headteacher in a school or other setting with a minimum of five years successful leadership experience
  • Knowledge and use of the new Professional Standards for Teachers and Leaders
  • Able to demonstrate improvement across a range of areas in current or previous settings
  • Able to demonstrate and evidence impact in area other than one’s own area of work
  • Demonstrate collaboration and networking
  • Able to evidence wider work experience that has helped to successfully address system-wide issues at cluster, regional or national level
  • Able to show how the commitment to Welsh education is demonstrated through their leadership
  • An interest in leadership development and adult learning

The programme will offer stretch and challenge which will provide significant reward and accomplishment in terms of leadership development for the successful applicant while also providing an opportunity to make a difference at national level

The following will also be taken into consideration when assessing applications:

  • The applicant will need to ensure that there is enough leadership capacity within the current organisation or available to the educational setting from its collaborative working arrangements, for an aspirant leader to step up and lead whilst the Associate is out working in the wider system
  • The applicant will be a role model for leadership and will need to demonstrate high level interpersonal skills coupled with effective communication
  • The applicant will be subject to confidential and politically sensitive information and will need to demonstrate the ability to work effectively in this context

Application Process

Those interested in the role will:

  • Be required to seek agreement from their Governing Body and Director of Education prior to applying for the role of Academy Associate.
  • Need to ensure that there is enough leadership capacity in their own setting for an aspirant leader to step up and lead whilst the Associate is out working in the wider system.
  • Need to have their application endorsed by either by the Director of Regional Consortia, or the Local Authority Director of Education.
  • Produce a personal statement which reflects the selection criteria and shows and demonstrates experience and expertise that the candidate can bring to the role of Associate

Your application will be assessed by a panel consisting of NAEL Members and some of the current Associates. Quality Assurance and support and guidance in the Associates Role will be provided by the Assistant Director for Leadership Development and Quality Assurance. Associates will be subject to annual reviews and will have performance development conversations with each Associate. An individual’s engagement in the programme can be terminated with 3 months notice at any point by the individual or by the NAEL. If applicants are not selected on this occasion, there will be other opportunities in the future.

The NAEL welcomes applications form candidates who can demonstrate their capability to work in both English and Welsh


Application process opens

  • Advertised via WG media channels
  • Advertised via consortia websites / newsletters / media channels
December 2018
Application process closes 18 January 2019
Short listing writing applications

1 February 2019

NAEL Associates selection panel interviews 13 & 14 February 2019
Candidates informed of the outcome from the selection panel by Welsh Government on behalf of the NAEL W/C 18 February 2019
Associate Role begins

Please note that the induction for new Associates will take place over 3 days during March 2019

1 March

To apply, or for further information regarding the above, please contact Kirsty Payne or Michaela Renkes on