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Academy Leadership Excellence Framework

Strengthen your teaching and leadership practice with the Academy Leadership Excellence Framework.
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    There is compelling evidence that the quality of school leadership matters. It has a critical impact on student learning, wellbeing and achievement. 

    That’s why the Academy has developed the Academy Leadership Excellence Framework (ALEF). 

    Academy Leadership Excellence Framework model

    Excellence across the profession is essential to ensuring that every child in every school gets the best start to enable them to reach their full potential. ​ 

    That’s why investing in leaders matters.​ 

    Excellent educational leadership requires the integration of a small number of key capabilities across multiple domains of practice motivated by the right dispositions.  

    Resources for schools

    What is the Academy Leadership Excellence Framework?

    The Academy Leadership Excellence Framework (ALEF) aims to inspire current and future school leaders to pursue leadership excellence, so that every child has the opportunity for a great education and the best possible start in life.  

    The ALEF sets out the practices, capabilities and dispositions required for excellence at all levels of leadership.​ It equips teachers and school leaders with the skills and mindset to navigate student-centred decision making and drive positive change.  

    Leadership excellence matters to ensure that every child gets a great education and the best possible start in life.  


    The five domains of practice included in the ALEF are:

    • leading teaching, learning and wellbeing
    • developing self, others and teams
    • leading improvement, innovation and change
    • leading the management of the school
    • engaging and working with the community.​



    Three leadership capabilities are included in the ALEF. 

    Excellence requires leaders to:

    1. use relevant knowledge 
    2. to solve complex problems 
    3. while building trust with those involved. ​



    Dispositions are the motivations, thoughts and emotions that drive behaviour. 

    The ALEF treats four dispositions as critical to the excellence of educational leadership:

    • open-mindedness
    • interpersonal courage
    • empathy 
    • perseverance

    These qualities of leadership character enable leaders to embrace vulnerability, demonstrate openness to feedback and support others to grow.​


    The Framework is reflective of the work of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Viviane Robinson of the University of Auckland. Viviane has published extensively on school improvement and leadership over many years and has worked tirelessly to reduce the gap between research and practice in education.

    The Framework was developed over a number of years by reviewing research linking leadership to student academic and wellbeing outcomes, investigating leadership development frameworks in comparable jurisdictions, and consulting with Victorian school and system leaders.  

    The framework

    Gold computer screen with play button icon by the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership

    Watch the video below to learn more about the Framework.

    The video features Kate Morris, Director, Leadership Excellence Division, Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Viviane Robinson.

    Academy Leadership Excellence Framework - Introductory video from eduVideo on Vimeo.

    The ALEF can be used by individuals, leadership teams or networks to assess and develop current and aspiring leaders to guarantee a sustainable leadership pipeline.

    Through using the Framework and associated resources, leaders can learn to make wise decisions about what is best for students by skilfully integrating the practices, capabilities and dispositions that are relevant to the situation at hand. 

    Excellent leadership is not just for those in formal leadership positions. It is something everyone can aspire to and work towards, no matter their career stage. Principals and Assistant Principals, middle leaders, teacher leaders and aspiring leaders all have the capacity to demonstrate and develop leadership excellence in themselves and others.

    At the Academy, we have a critical role to play in the development of school leaders, at all levels, who are highly committed, knowledgeable, and skilled in the development of school cultures in which everyone strives for excellence. Using the Framework and its resources will support the advancement of excellent educational leaders in schools across our system.

     Gold glasses icon by the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership

    Read the full Academy Leadership Excellence Framework.

    Academy Leadership Excellence Framework (PDF) 
    543.33 KB
    Academy Leadership Excellence Framework (Word)
    1.7 MB

    Gold target and bullseye icon by the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership

    Learning activities

    After reading the ALEF, choose one of the following activities to help you and/or your team further deepen your understanding of the Framework.

    Reading activity 1: Connect - Extend - Challenge

    A routine for individuals to draw connections between new ideas and prior knowledge. 

    Adapted from Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education.


    This activity will help you make connections between new ideas and prior knowledge in relation to educational leadership excellence. It also encourages you to take note of ongoing questions, puzzles and difficulties as you reflect on what you are reading.


    This protocol can take as long as you like. It is suggested that you take enough time to sit with your thoughts and reflections. Allow up to 30 minutes.


    As you read, individually record personal connections, extensions and challenges. Write your thoughts down and respond to the following questions.

    1. How do the ideas and information presented connect with what you already knew?
    2. What new ideas did you get that extended or broadened your thinking in new directions?
    3. What challenges or puzzles have come to mind from the ideas and information presented?
    4. How is the Framework connected to something you already know about? What new ideas or impressions do you have that extended your thinking in new directions? What is challenging or confusing? What do you wonder about.

    Reading activity 2: The Four "A"s

    A routine for pairs and teams to connect new knowledge with personal beliefs.

    Adapted from Judith Gray, Seattle, Washington 2005.


    To explore a text deeply in relation to one’s own values and intentions.


    Five minutes total for each participant, plus 10 minutes for the final two steps.

    1. The group reads the Academy Leadership Excellence Framework (PDF) (Doc) silently, highlighting parts and writing notes in the margin or on sticky notes in answer to the following 4 questions (you can also add your own "A"s).
      • What Assumptions does the author of the text hold?
      • What do you Agree with in the text?
      • What do you want to Argue with in the text?
      • What parts of the text do you want to Aspire to (or Act upon)?
    2. In a round, have each person identify one assumption in the text, citing the text (with page numbers, if appropriate) as evidence.
    3. Either continue in rounds or facilitate a conversation in which the group talks about the text in light of each of the remaining "A"s, taking them one at a time. What do people want to agree with, argue with, and aspire to (or act upon) in the text? Try to move seamlessly from one "A" to the next, giving each "A" enough time for full exploration.
    4. End the session with an open discussion framed around a question such as: What does this mean for our work with students?
    5. Debrief the text experience.

    Reading activity 3: Word - Phrase - Sentence

    A routine for teams and groups to capture the essence of a text.

    Adapted from Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education


    This routine provides structure for a conversation. It can be used as both a discourse and as a thinking routine.

    The power and promise of this routine lies in the discussion of why a particular word, a single phrase, and a sentence stood out for each individual in the group as a catalyst for discussion.


    The timing of this activity will depend on the group or team size. Allow 2 – 3 minutes for each group member to share their ideas with follow up discussion, in each round for the word, phrase, sentence. In the plenary activity, allow time for the group to gather collective ideas.

    1. As an individual, review the Academy Leadership Excellence Framework (PDF) (Doc) and then select and record a:
      • word that captured your attention or struck you as powerful
      • phrase that moved, engaged or provoked you
      • sentence that was meaningful to you, that you felt captures the core idea of the text.
    2. As a group, discuss and record your choices. If your team is large, break into groups of 4.
    3. Sharing and discussion should occur in rounds, so the discussion is structured:
      • First participant shares a word and explains why they chose it, inviting others to comment and discuss.
      • The words are recorded and then the next person shares, records, and discusses until everyone has their turn.
    4. The group then moves to share and discuss their phrases and finally on to their sentences.
    5. Looking at your group’s collective choices of words, phrases, and sentences, reflect on the conversation by identifying:
      • What themes emerge?
      • What implications or predictions can be drawn?
      • Were there aspects of the text not captured in your choices?

    Self-reflection activity

    Excellent leaders skilfully integrate the right combination of capabilities and dispositions to make the best decision for a students.

    Use the self-reflection activity to consider how you use the capabilities and dispositions of the ALEF in your leadership.

    Download the Self-reflection activity below for further instructions.

    Download activities (PDF)
    255.16 KB
    Download activities (Word)
    1.54 MB
    Download Self-reflection activity (PDF)
    129.74 KB
    Download Self-reflection activity (Word)
    1.26 MB
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