Directors – Children's Workforce Guide to Qualifications and Training

Charlotte Goddard
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Turnover of directors of children’s services (DCSs) in 2020/21 was half that of the previous year, with 12 new permanent appointments, according to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.

Fewer local authorities are combining children’s and adult services with just 26 “twin hat” directors, the lowest number since 2010.

Aspiring directors

The Children’s Services Leadership Consortium – made up of The Staff College, Institute of Public Care (IPC), Skills for Care and others – created the Upon programme to support talented leaders to become DCSs, funded by a three-year £3m Department for Education grant.

Starting in late September and running until March 2022, Upon will welcome around 50 aspirant directors and feature a mix of virtual and face-to-face learning. It is suited to those with senior leadership experience in the children’s sector or related areas and the potential to become a director in three to five years. “There is a strong track record of participants becoming directors and support for those in their first two years of a director’s role,” says Jo Davidson, principal at The Staff College.

Meeting challenges

The Staff College is expanding efforts to boost diversity and inclusivity in leadership roles with programmes and support for black and Asian leaders, and programmes to help all leaders develop inclusive leadership skills. It also runs a Women in Leadership programme.

Dealing with Covid-19 and the recovery continues to be a huge leadership challenge. “It’s a living testament to the skills leaders need – humility, adaptability, innovation, working across systems, influencing others and championing the resources and ingenuity of communities,” says Davidson.

Leadership training

The IPC delivers leadership and management training specific to children’s services and offers bespoke programmes for councils. IPC also delivers a Postgraduate Certificate in Strategic and Operational Leadership for Social Care Wales. The Local Government Association runs the residential Leadership Essentials Children’s Services programme, providing an intensive introduction to the role of lead member for children’s services. It offers mentoring and coaching plus bespoke support for individual councils and councillors. In May, the association published a guide for new lead members.


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