A training programme to develop the leadership skills of England’s directors of children’s services was launched this week with a two-day event in London.
Twenty-six directors with a range of experience levels have been chosen as the first participants on the 12-month leadership development course, ordered by children’s secretary Ed Balls following a damning report on Haringey Council. It is being run by the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services.
It includes eight residential days spread over four events, six sessions with an executive coach, and work-shadowing leaders of other organisations in the public, private and third sectors.
Balls announced the establishment of the programme in December 2008 after a report identified serious management failings and poor inter-agency working in Haringey children’s services.
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has welcomed the initiative, having overseen development of the course’s content and structure.
Eleni Ioannides, vice-chair of the ADCS workforce development committee, who is among the first cohort of participants, said the programme was not only designed to strengthen leadership but provided “recognition of the complexities of the role”, which combines education, children’s social care, and other services such as youth work.
One core element of the programme focuses on the effective management of risk and examines the kinds of questions a director needs to ask in order to ensure the quality of services, while other modules cover partnership working, improving outcomes for children, and how to operate within the political context of local government.
Further cohorts begin the course in January and April, and all existing directors will be given the opportunity to complete the course by 2012. There will be 30 spaces each year after this point to cover new appointments.