Here at the National Academy for Educational Leadership we are already looking forward to what 2020 has in store and to appointing our latest group of Associates.  This will be our third cohort and they will be joining 21 other Associates from across Wales on a leadership learning experience which will equip them for this exciting and challenging role.

Our Associates are the lifeblood of the Leadership Academy; they provide our capacity in the wider system; they sit on our decision-making panels and they provide the leadership insights which we need in what is an extraordinarily exciting time for Welsh education.  Above all else, they must be able to operate in that interface between policy and practice – speaking to government and to experts with the confident, authentic voice of practising school leaders. They also have a role in ensuring that the whole educational sector feels connected to the Academy and understands its values and its principles.  Wales has a long and distinguished history of nurturing outstanding educators who have made our nation what it is today and through our Associates we are now enabling our school leaders to bring their experiences of leading effective schools to a national stage.

It has been a challenge for the Academy to ensure that the Associates are representative of all areas, sectors and regions.  For our third cohort we are specifically interested in appointing Associates from special schools, PRUs, all through schools, Welsh medium schools and secondary schools as well as from specific geographical areas.  We must do this to ensure that the Academy can genuinely claim to be national, able to listen to and influence leadership practice in the widest possible range of contexts.  This is not a straightforward task as there are logistic and other challenges to overcome but an Academy which claims to be for all leaders must attempt to be listening to every leader, wherever they may be.

We are working to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to engage with our work, to sign up for our newsletter and to engage with our events.  In a climate of seemingly endless reform we are starting to redress the balance between policy and practice.  It is our school leaders who are best placed to make decisions on curriculum and on learning and they should be able to inform national policy accordingly.  High-stakes, top down, accountability measures are increasingly seen as outdated and unsuccessful levers for school improvement – and government is listening.  The Wales education system is moving to a place where government policy is informed by school leaders, and where school leaders in turn are enabled by that policy to develop their practice together.

Huw Foster Evans – Chief Executive