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Bespoke leadership development programme for children’s services

A shire county children's services had recently had a poor Ofsted inspection and as part of a package of improvement measures asked us to design and deliver a bespoke leadership programme for all senior and team managers

  • Situation and task

  • What was the impact?

  • Key success factors

  • Situation and task

  • Situation and task

    The aim of the programme, delivered to 6 cohorts across 18 months, was to support all managers to enhance their skills and resilience to provide a confident, high quality management team across children’s services.

    We worked with directors, senior managers and team managers to co-produce the programme content. Led by the participants, we developed a series of experiential learning modules covering:

    • Leadership and management
    • Social work practice
    • Quality assurance
    • Performance management
    • Partnership and collaboration

    Alongside workshop delivery, a series of action learning sets and one-to-one coaching sessions allowed participants to explore issues at a greater depth.

  • What was the impact?

  • What was the impact?

    • There has been an increase in consciousness around leadership and more awareness of personal approaches, and the importance of working together
    • Through increased consciousness, participants have been more able to make changes to their styles of managing, and have seen positive results from this
    • Confidence has improved overall; participants feel more confident in being able to influence and challenge – including upwards
    • There is a desire to improve the current culture and become more self-directing
    • Heads of Service have been able to empower their team managers, celebrating the positives and challenging the negatives.
    • Team managers have a better understanding of what they need to prioritise in relation to overall strategic improvements; there is a better sense of being part of the ‘whole system’ and how their role/team fits in with that
    • For Heads of Service, relationships with partners have improved
    • Managers feel more connected with each other through undertaking the programme, and some good relationships have been formed; there appears to be more cohesion across the whole management team as a whole
    • The programme has been a hugely positive experience overall; participants have welcomed the opportunity for reflection, have become more ‘mature’ in their approaches, and they are now keen to embed the learning and build on this by continuing their development going forwards

    What participants said:

    “I realised the importance of unpicking why the team didn’t work well and even asked the team what we needed to do to change how we work together.”

    “The programme has helped me think about how we manage people without them feeling done to.”

    “Conversations with other heads of service has helped to join up what I am doing and I feel less isolated. This programme has helped me understand who I need to go and talk to for support and has linked me back in with the management group.”

    “The action learning sets made me realise that I need to positively challenge much more than I normally would.”

    “It really helped me think about the more negative aspects of how I interact with certain people and helped me question why I fall into certain behaviours.”

  • Key success factors

  • Key success factors

    The design of the programme was co-produced with directors, senior managers and team managers, ensuring content focussed on the most problematic areas.

    Flexible learning – content adjusted to fit around events as they were happening – for example tailoring learning around a recent Ofsted letter.

    Inclusion of a young people’s forum to deliver learning.

    Senior leaders attended team manager workshop events to hear about the work of the group and listen and respond to the issues raised.

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