Roads Academy

The Roads Academy is a joint initiative from Highways England and the roads industry. It offers membership, masterclasses and development.

The Roads Academy is a cross-sector leadership development programme. It aims to secure a step change in the way the roads sector collectively delivers its activity by developing senior leaders who can tackle the complex challenges of the roads sector. The programme offers you:

  • support and development to become a skilled and influential future leader
  • innovative thinking and collaboration
  • a platform to share best practice
  • ways to improve safety, sustainability and value for money
  • an understanding of sector needs

Being a member gives you:

  • the opportunity to develop your staff through a subsidised development programme
  • two places on each Roads Academy masterclass, delivered by leaders in the roads sector
  • access to cutting edge knowledge and best practice
  • the chance to influence and contribute to the future of the roads sector
  • a platform to tell the industry about your experiences and success
  • the opportunity to be involved in the Roads Academy steering group
  • opportunities to network across the roads sector
  • regular newsletters

Become a member organisation

Email Highways England to become a member:


The annual membership fee is £3,000 per organisation


The Roads Academy offers a minimum of two masterclasses each year, held at various locations around the UK. Masterclasses involve a combination of expert and/or academic input, group discussion and working with live issues.

Masterclasses are a great opportunity for collaboration and networking between member organisations, development programme participants and attendees from across the roads industry. As a masterclass delegate you will explore situations you face and share your ideas in group sessions. There are opportunities for questions and debate.

Each masterclass will cover a different topic depending on the current needs and challenges facing the sector. The underlying theory introduced at masterclasses can be a challenge to conventional thinking. Typical subjects may include:

  • strategic leadership in infrastructure
  • systems thinking
  • crisis leadership
  • thriving in a political environment

Member organisations are entitled to two places at every masterclass as part of their membership. You can purchase additional places at each masterclass - email for the latest prices. Places are also provided to current and past development programme delegates.

Development programme

The Roads Academy offers a prestigious two year development programme, created with significant input from the whole roads sector and expertise from both industry and academia. This programme is heavily subsidised by Highways England, offering you great value for money.

The programme is held at Roffey Park Institute - leaders in research and innovation in management development. The qualification is validated by the University of Sussex.

On successful completion you will gain a formal postgraduate certificate in leadership and management and 60 Credit, Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) points at masters level. You will also be awarded a Roads Academy diploma. You will also:

  • build your expertise and CV
  • raise your career profile
  • receive personal coaching
  • network across the sector

On returning to your organisation you will act as a catalyst for change in the way industry thinks, behaves and performs.


The development programme fee is £5,000 per delegate.

Apply for the 2017 development programme

The next programme starts January 2017. Nominations opened on 12 September and close on 7 October 2016.

To apply:

  • go to the Highways England jobs site - you will need to register with this site to apply
  • obtain senior management endorsement, for example Director or Board member – we will ask them for confirmation

Shortlisted applicants will be emailed to book their assessment from 24 October onwards and invited to attend an assessment centre in Birmingham.

Assessment centres will be held on 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 November 2016 and will comprise:


To be accepted into the programme your organisation must be a Roads Academy member and you must be nominated by a senior manager to attend. There are a maximum of 18 places per cohort shared across the supply chain and Highways England.

The Roads Academy are looking for delegates who can (or have potential to):

  • provide strong senior leadership
  • act as an ambassador for the roads sector
  • shape how the industry works
  • influence and communicate at a national level
  • apply learning in a practical way within the workplace
  • understand development at industry level

The senior manager endorsing applications will need to consider who would make an appropriate delegate and how they can support them through the process.

This is a challenging academic programme so candidates must:

  • be able to study for 2 years at masters level
  • be able to manage their own learning, think critically and self-assess

The assessment centre exercises and final interview will refer to the following competency framework.

Competency framework: Roads Academy development programme 2016

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About the programme

The Roads Academy is a ‘self-managed learning’ (SML) programme. This means you will design your own learning and pursue your own areas of interest within the agreed field of leadership and change in the roads sector.

You will work collaboratively with your fellow delegates both during the programme and in internal consultancy project groups to address strategic issues within the sector.

The programme challenges current thinking from day one. You will work with live issues to ensure that you can implement your learning both during the programme and beyond. Both the learning process itself and the pass-fail outcome are determined by rigorous peer and Set Advisor review. This ensures that you gain practical learning and build the skills essential to good leadership as well as being held to a high academic standard.

All the formal learning activities will be scheduled during the working week. You will typically spend up to three to four percent of your time per week (based on a full seven day week of eight hours per day) on the programme over the two-year period.

The programme emphasises the practical use of knowledge and learning for the benefit of delegate, organisation and the wider roads sector. It aims to produce people who are:

  • confident in their knowledge
  • skilled and influential leaders and managers
  • able to tackle the complex challenges encountered in the roads sector

The programme involves:

A typical module will follow this outline:

  • two day workshop
  • challenge and innovation coaching session
  • learning set
  • masterclass
  • challenge and innovation coaching session

The course follows the Roffey Park five question framework.

  1. “Where have I been?” – what is my background/experience
  2. “Where am I now?” – what are my current skills, qualities, knowledge
  3. “Where do I want to get to?” – who I want to be, what I need to develop
  4. “How do I get there?” – what learning programme do I need
  5. “How will I know I have arrived?” – what evaluation and assessment should I use

The first two questions aim to clarify learning needs. The third question defines goals. The fourth question helps to outline a plan of action. The fifth question gives a basis for assessment.


Delegates will attend the Roads Academy programme of masterclasses.


Before you join your fellow delegates for the first workshop you will take part in a webinar-style introduction. This provides information about programme structure, objectives and approach and gives you the opportunity to ask questions of the programme managers.

Workshop content may be subject to change in response to the evolving needs of the sector but you can view a sample programme.

Sample workshop programme

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Learning sets

Learning sets involve 6-7 participants. They allow you to discuss the work you are doing towards your portfolio of evidence. It is also the forum that allows delegates to peer review each others’ work. Each set is supported and facilitated by a Roffey Park learning set adviser.

Learning sets encourage the skills necessary for self managed learning:

  • self reflection
  • critical thinking
  • participation in effective giving and receiving of feedback

Together you will:

  • help each other work towards and produce learning contracts
  • support set members who are taking risks
  • constructively challenge each other
  • establish assessment criteria
  • assess each others’ work and progress with learning goals
  • share personal experience, learning and development with other set members
  • give and receive feedback

Internal consultancy project groups

It is important to demonstrate return on investment for members of the Roads Academy. We achieve this through internal consultancy.

At the 15 month point you will be briefed to conduct research with senior leaders to find out the challenges facing them, the issues on their minds and how they could benefit from six months’ group consultancy.

You will use these findings to generate ideas for possible consultancy projects and present these to your fellow delegates. The group then agree which three projects best meet the criteria of:

  • opportunity for sector-wide (and beyond) collaboration
  • impact across the sector
  • likely return on investment
  • provide a way to implement learning from the Roads Academy

Once agreed, you form project groups to tackle these projects and present their outcomes.

Groups are formed on a ‘max mix’ basis, ie with as much diversity as possible, not only across age, gender, ethnic background, etc but also across role, organisation, and geography. This provides participants with the challenge to take up a role that differs from one they might traditionally play on a project.

Each project group is given an initial deadline to:

  • engage sponsorship from one of the senior leaders who suggested the idea in the first place
  • manage the expectations of other senior leaders whose project ideas are not being carried forward
  • scope and define the project
  • draft and submit terms of reference for the project to the Roads Academy steering group, detailing objectives and outputs, method plan, roles and responsibilities, timescales and milestones etc.

The projects run from the end of module 4 and the amount of time available to work on them is spread over a nine month period. With this in mind, and given that participants all have full-time jobs, we encourage participants not to be overambitious in the scope of projects undertaken.

Realistically, it is better to deliver value to the sector by limiting the projects and producing results, rather than overextending themselves and being unable to deliver the agreed outcome. This is an example of leadership in action.

Upon successful completion of the internal consultancy process, delegates will receive the Roads Academy diploma.

Challenge and innovation sessions

“Challenge and innovation” sessions offer you personalised support and challenge you to use your learning to benefit you, your team, your organisation and the roads sector. The coaches come from Roffey Park’s highly experienced faculty.

Your coach will help you explore goals and decide how you’ll achieve them. You will also be partnered with a fellow delegate, allowing you both to gain different perspectives on your work. Partnerships remain the same for the duration of the programme.

As such, the challenge and innovation sessions come in two forms:

  • 1-to-1 sessions - working individually with your coach
  • 1-to-2 sessions - working with your coach and partner

There are three one-to-one and six one-to-two challenge and innovation sessions for each delegate over the 15 month academic portion of the programme. Writing up your reflections on these sessions will help you link your learning to the goals you have set for yourself. You could include your journal in your portfolio for assessment.


To qualify you must attend each of the workshops and learning sets.

You will be required to produce a portfolio of evidence based on your own research and process of inquiry. This portfolio will be different for each delegate based on the learning and assessment they identify, but could include any assignments undertaken and a journal of the challenge and innovation sessions.

This portfolio will be peer reviewed during learning sets. The learning set, along with their adviser, determines the assessment criteria for the qualification and jointly carries out a peer assessment process. A portion of the portfolios will also go forward for external benchmarking.

On completing the qualification you will have gained the independent learning skills required for continuing professional development.


If you have any questions about the academy please speak to your manager or contact a member of the Roads Academy project team.