strategy and leadership

Engage Academy 2024

updated on 11 Jun 2024
3 minutes

Jackie Winchester, Senior Project Officer at NCCPE, has been running Engage Academy 2024. At its halfway point, Jackie writes about how it's going and her hopes for the Academy's future.

Academy 2023 - A group of around 15 people sitting around tables in a meeting room, looking to the front and listening to two people presenting in front of a screen and flip chart

The Engage Academy is a seven-month-long professional development programme, which enables people to embed high-quality engagement into their institution. Now in its tenth year, the current programme started in January 2024, involving a cohort of 40 delegates committed to public engagement backgrounds - largely working within universities, but also, over the years we have drawn from the third sector and funding organisations and including international delegates. In total, this flagship programme has worked with around 280 delegates over the ten years, making a big contribution to culture change within HE institutions and also to delegates’ perceptions of themselves as changemakers who are able to influence.  

The programme combines six full days of workshops - four online and two hybrid, three webinars on specific topics (e.g. convincing others through strong communication), and three peer learning group meetings, where delegates meet to build connections and discuss topics relevant to them in smaller groups. 

The Academy programme is focused on the EDGE tool encouraging delegates to reflect if and how their current organisation embeds engagement, and how they can effect change in their own contexts. An important part of the Academy is to include strategic thinking tools that delegates can get to grips within the workshops, and then take away to use in their own settings. So delegates have been working on creating their own stories of change as well as developing their skills in making grant applications/ writing REF impact case studies. This is as well as attending sessions that focus on making use of the EDGE tool and how it can be implemented in their organisations. 

The workshops encourage delegates to build connections and form their own networks to sustain them when Academy ends, including the NCCPE-run PEP network.

Comments from delegates reflect the value they have found from taking part and making new allies: 

"Amazing collaborative team building"
"I  feel energised to meet other people who share successes and frustrations of public engagement in their own institutions"


Workshops are led by experts from a range of contexts, and utilise different facilitation approaches to strengthen opportunities to learn and share together. For example, our workshops on authentic change-making in practice led to delegates reflecting: 

"You manage to bring together so much good practice and presented in is such a powerful and compelling way"
"It has been a wonderful session! Thanks to all the speakers and facilitators as well, so many great ideas to reflect on"

Mid programme evaluation findings

Evaluation is used to inform what we do, and to ensure that we meet the needs of delegates. 28 delegates chose to respond to our mid-term evaluation which found that the biggest changes in skills that delegates have developed are in: 

  • Feeling equipped to use the EDGE tool 
  • Developing strategic thinking practices 
  • Building a network of contacts they can draw on for support 

We hope that delegates will take away these new skills and networks and embed them further into their work and future plans, as well as discussing what they have learnt with their colleagues and existing contacts. 

Additional comments received through the mid-point evaluation include: 

‘It has been very helpful to get a sense of what other institutions are doing a build a picture of the national activity around engagement’ 

‘I have ideas and strategies to use now that I didn't before and I think these will help me a lot’ 

Next steps  

The Academy concludes with a hybrid workshop, based in Bristol at Watershed in July. Here delegates have a chance to reflect on what they have learned; celebrate their work and practice; and plan what they will do next. The NCCPE is committed to our alumni - and offer support through ongoing PEP network, as well as strategic support to help our alumni to build engagement into their organisations. If you missed out on Academy this year, look out for the next round, opening this autumn!


Applications for Engage Academy 2025 will be open between September and October 2024.