A proven track record


Over the past few years, the Staff College, formally known as the Virtual Staff College (VSC), has been a major contributor to the professional development of over 190 Directors and Assistant Directors of Children’s Services, and, through its close links with the community, is able to anticipate emerging challenges for local authorities and their children’s services partners.  Below are some examples of our most recent, directly commissioned work and supporting testimonials.

West Berkshire

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Mentor Plus

Designed by the College the Mentor Plus scheme aims to provide each newly appointed director of children’s services (DCS) with a mentor who is an experienced and successful DCS or a recently retired DCS with a track record of successful leadership.

Mentoring is particularly suited to new appointments where the mentor can offer advice and guidance based on their own experience and provide examples of dealing with similar situations, issues and challenges whilst supporting the mentee in analysis, reflection and determining appropriate action.

I think it’s incredibly important that in the current climate the sector supports the sector – linking a new inexperienced DCS to a colleague who has experience of the job they are doing and the challenges and dilemmas that they face is essential.
The scheme is a very helpful one in providing new DCSs with confidence in their decision making, via a confidential and objective ear.
This has been invaluable enabling us to share ideas and reflections around my DCS role leading an authority out of intervention.

The DCS Leadership Programme

What people have said about the DCS leadership programme

You have created a safe place for us to explore our challenges honestly, and an opportunity to network and nurture and be nurtured. This session was positive, stimulating and informative. Thanks for facilitating.
The programme has given me tools for managing and leading change – not just reacting. It has enabled me to conceptualise my role as a leader – to understand the authorising environment. I feel I have a road map now.
The best leadership programme I’ve ever attended and will ever attend.

Leadership for Change Programme

The Staff College, formally known as the Virtual Staff College (VSC), the Leadership Centre, Public Health England, NHS Leadership Academy and the National Skills Academy for Social Care are collaborating on a single national programme, which brings together leaders from Children’s Services, Adult Social Care, Public Heath the NHS and the Third Sector..

Three cohorts of the Leadership for Change Programme have taken place since 2014 and below are some comments from participants on the Programme:

Exceeded expectations as this was one of the most thought provoking days I have spent in many years.
Provided the opportunity to really get under the skin of seeing the world from different people’s lenses.
Good balance of provocative (in a good way) input and opportunity for focus on local system issues, hard work but worth it.

Future Directors Programme

The Future Directors Programme, which is part of the ‘Leadership for Change’ suite of programmes, is an ongoing collaboration between the Staff College and Public Health England. The programme has evolved from other senior leadership programmes offered to aspiring directors across the public sector and provides an opportunity for senior officers, who specifically aspire to director level roles in children’s services and public health, to jointly prepare for the next phase of their careers and learn from each other.

Three cohorts of the Future Directors Programme have taken place since 2014 and below are some comments from participants on the Programme:

By far the most exceptional course I have been on in my career - long may it continue into Residential 2!
The programme has given me a wealth of skills, techniques and insight into leadership that I will apply going forward, no doubting that.
Very positive, well-paced day, clear organisation, good balance of presentation and activities.
Good to have some space to think and consider future developments.

Lincolnshire Senior Leadership Programme

Participants on this programme were given the opportunity to explore the major issues in the leadership and management of services for children and young people. The content of the programme was rooted in the current context of legislation and policy and the new relationships between parents, communities, other service providers and government. The design and content of the programme ensured that learning was embedded in professional experience in the workplace. Seminars, group learning and individual reflections were informed by both research and practice and aimed at supporting the development of effective leadership qualities and informed leadership judgement in challenging and complex social and educational settings.

Thank you very much for a very provoking, knowledgeable and enjoyable programme.
Very thought provoking. I think this could help us tremendously with the challenges we face.

East Midlands Directors of Adult Social Care Residential

Following an approach from the East Midlands Directors of Adult Social Services (DASS) group requesting a bespoke offer that met the shared needs of those DCSs with extended roles and their DASS colleagues, this residential built upon the recent Core Concepts webinar where participants were introduced to the concepts of wicked issues, adaptive leadership and the strategic triangle.

The residential included an input from former permanent secretary dame Sue Street who encouraged participants to consider the drivers for change and cues in the system, this was followed by detailed scenario planning work as well as exploring the idea of social capital.

An extremely valuable experience which I have longed for – finally having the conversations that need to be had. Thought provoking and stimulating but rooted in reality.
The scenario planning was brilliant. Gave me the methodology to develop my thinking.

International work – The Staff College impacting on schools in Pakistan

The Staff College, formally known as the Virtual Staff College (VSC), in conjunction with The City School (TCS) network Pakistan has held an Executive Leadership programme for staff from their Head Office and Regional Offices.

Dr Coleen Jackson and Dr Robin Precey delivered the Executive programme in Lahore last October which focused on aspects of adaptive leadership, new models of working, project management and social intelligence in Leadership.  In February 2013 the programme will be repeated in Islamabad, which will ensure almost 50 staff will have undertaken the learning. The notion was to support those in the regional and Head Office to adopt an even more strategic stance and create the frameworks, systems and structures required to take the schools forward and ensure sustainability and quality.