Guide to Qualifications and Training: Directors

Charlotte Goddard
Thursday, September 1, 2022

During 2021/22, there were 18 new permanent appointments of directors of children’s services (DCSs), up from 12 the previous year, according to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. Fewer local authorities are combining children’s and adult services with just 22 “twin hat” directors, the lowest number since 2010.

The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care found leadership was not “sufficiently stable, diverse or experienced”, with only six per cent of DCSs identifying as an ethnic minority. It called for a review of the curriculum for leadership programmes and action to address under-representation.

Aspiring directors

The Children’s Services Leadership Consortium – made up of The Staff College, Institute of Public Care (IPC), Skills for Care and GatenbySanderson – created the Upon programme to support existing and aspirant DCSs, funded by a three-year £3m Department for Education grant. Its Aspirant DCS Programme will welcome cohorts 4 and 5 in September 2022. Around a third of applicants are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, according to The Staff College chief executive Jane Parfrement.

New directors

The New Directors Programme continues to support all new DCSs, many of whom went through the aspirant programme. DCSs are facing a wide range of challenges, including recruitment and retention issues and financial pressures on local authorities and families, says programme lead Gail Hopper.


The Staff College will have delivered at least six Black and Asian Leadership Initiative programmes by the end of 2022 and plans to offer further cohorts on its Women in Leadership programme in 2023.

Leadership training

The IPC delivers leadership and management training specific to children’s services and offers bespoke programmes for councils. The 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 councils and councillors. In 2021, it published a guide for new lead members.

Read more in CYP Now's Children’s Workforce Guide to Qualifications and Training

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