Guide to Qualifications and Training: Leaders

Joe Lepper
Friday, September 1, 2023

In April the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) published details of the characteristics of directors of children's services (DCSs) for the first time.

This revealed a lack of diversity, with 81 per cent identifying as white British and just six per cent identifying as either black African, black Caribbean, white and black Caribbean or white and Asian.

This backs up findings from the Independent Review of Children's Social Care which found leadership is not “sufficiently stable, diverse or experienced”. The ADCS has set up an equalities and diversity working group to look at what more can be done to ensure the organisation is inclusive and diverse.

Leadership programmes

The Department for Education-supported Upon scheme offers leadership training to new and aspiring DCSs. The programme is delivered by the Staff College, Oxford Brookes University's Institute of Public Care (IPC), Skills for Care and public services firm GatenbySanderson. Its aspiring directors programme launches in September 2023 and runs until March 2024 for 40 potential leaders. Upon contacts new DCSs as soon as they are appointed for enrolment on its new directors programme.

The Staff College's Black and Asian Leadership Initiative offers courses for black and Asian leaders. This three-day programme, which includes sessions on tackling racism and understanding concepts of race, is available for up to 25 participants in 2023.

A Women in Leadership Programme is also available from The Staff College, with a two-day residential course taking place in October.


IPC has developed a commissioning course specifically for children's services. This involves eight half-day learning sessions online, supported by independent study. Optional accreditation based on a work-based commissioning project is available to gain a postgraduate certificate in commissioning and purchasing worth 20 master's-level transferrable credits. The course is fully booked as of July 2023 but those interested can be placed on a waiting list and notified of future dates, say IPC.


Lead council members for children's services and chairs of children's services scrutiny committees are offered training through the Local Government Association's Leadership Essentials series. This two-day training programme is running in autumn 2023.


Read more in the Children's Workforce Guide to Qualifications and Training 2023/24

Read the full guide online

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